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D.C. Dispatch: IVF, Merrick Garland and baseball


D.C. Dispatch: IVF, Merrick Garland and baseball

Jun 15, 2024 | 3:26 pm ET
By Jack O'Connor
D.C. Dispatch: IVF, Merrick Garland and baseball
All of Iowa's House members voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt for refusing a congressional subpoena. (Photo by Demetrius Freeman-Pool/Getty Images)

Iowa lawmakers this week voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt, sent the defense budget to the Senate and unveiled bills on contraceptive access.

Some of those same lawmakers were also busy defeating Democrats in the yearly Congressional Baseball Game for the fourth year in a row.

Here is the roundup of what Iowa lawmakers have been up to over the last week:

Iowa lawmakers join Republicans in holding Garland in contempt

The House of Representatives voted to hold Garland in contempt over his refusal to adhere to a congressional subpoena.

Republican lawmakers were looking for recordings of an interview between President Joe Biden and special counsel Robert Hur surrounding classified documents from when Biden was vice president that were kept at his home.

Biden used executive privilege to keep the recording private but the Department of Justice provided transcripts and Hur testified about his decision not to charge Biden with a federal crime.

Many Republicans were unsatisfied with just the transcripts as they believed the recordings would show that Biden was not mentally fit to be president. 

The vote was mostly down party lines with just one Republican, Ohio Rep. David Joyce, opposing the move and joining the Democrats in a 216-207 vote.

Following the vote, Iowa Rep. Randy Feenstra praised the move and said Garland’s actions “cannot be tolerated.”

“The American people deserve to know the full truth behind President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents and his lack of mental fitness,” Feenstra said in a press release after the vote.

Although successful, no action will likely come from the vote as the Department of Justice notified Congress that it would not pursue charges against Garland. 

Assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte said the department’s policy is that an agency refusing a subpoena following the use of executive privilege is not considered a crime. He pointed to similar examples from the previous three administrations where the department did not pursue any charges.

Democrats and Republicans spar over IVF and contraception

Sen. Joni Ernst and Rep. Ashley Hinson unveiled companion bills intended to ensure contraceptives are available to purchase over the counter and counteract Democratic “fearmongering” over contraception access.

The bill was offered as a counterpoint to Democratic legislation, which failed to advance last week in the face of Republican opposition.

Since the 2022 Supreme Court overturn of Roe v. Wade, the issue of abortion and birth control access has been the focal point of debate between the two parties. 

With the upcoming November election, Democrats have pushed the idea that abortion and reproductive care are at risk from the conservative Supreme Court.

Senate Republicans have opposed Democratic efforts to protect birth control and in vitro fertilization (IVF) access over the last few weeks. 

Republicans say they support IVF access but that the bills were too broad and that they preferred narrower versions. Every Republican senator, including both Iowa senators, signed a letter accusing Democrats of fearmongering over the issue of IVF access.

“A partisan campaign of false fearmongering intended to mislead and confuse the American people,” the letter said. “We strongly support continued nationwide access to IVF.”

Democratic lawmakers blocked a Republican IVF bill that would have prevented a state from receiving Medicaid funding if it barred access to IVF. Democrats argued the bill would have allowed states to heavily regulate IVF thanks to its unclear wording.

House Democrats introduced their own bill that would protect abortion, contraception and IVF access on June 4.

Contraceptive use could still be under threat in light of comments from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that the court should review the precedent established in Griswold v. Connecticut which protected the right to use contraceptives. 

Defense budget heads to Senate with strong support from Iowa lawmakers

The Iowa representatives in the House joined the majority and voted to approve the defense budget of about $900 billion. The National Defense Authorization Act fell largely along party lines in a 217-199 vote where only three Republicans voted against it.

Rep. Zach Nunn, who was promoted to a colonel in the Air Force Tuesday, added four amendments to the bill which included funding for veteran mental health services, partnering with the Israeli Ministry of Defense and efforts to reduce Chinese influence.

“As a twenty-year combat veteran and current Reservist, I’m committed to protecting our national security,” Nunn said in a press release. “That means securing our Southern Border, stopping China in its tracks, bolstering our allies and supporting service members throughout their career.”

Before passing the House, Republican lawmakers successfully incfluded provisions to restrict diversity protections and abortion access for military members and their families.

Feenstra also voted in favor the Act and praised how it included pay raises for newly enlisted junior troops and cut “DEI and CRT” programs in military schools.

“The National Defense Authorization Act is a strong and important investment in our troops, our military families, and our national security. With rising threats abroad – particularly China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea – this legislation supports our military readiness, eliminates unrelated social initiatives, and enhances the quality of life of our
servicemembers and their families.”

The bill also includes provisions to expand health care and child care for soldiers as well as increased funding for the National Guard’s efforts on the southern border.

The bill is headed to the Senate for a vote and likely could be the basis of long negotiations between the Democrat-controlled Senate and GOP-led House.

Republicans win big on the field

Capping the news from the week was the annual congressional baseball game, where Republicans trounced Democrats 31-11 on Wednesday.

The Republican team, which included Iowa representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Feenstra and Ernst, wins for the fourth consecutive year.

Highlights of the game included Feenstra delivering an RBI base hit to score Miller-Meeks.

The game was briefly delayed when eight climate change protesters stormed the field before being arrested by Capitol Police.

This year’s game raised more than $2 million for various charities.