Iowa Leaders Call on Senator Grassley to Hold a Confirmation Hearing for Judge Restrepo
DES MOINES & WATERLOO, IOWA – Iowa leaders today met with Senator Chuck Grassley’s staff in Des Moines and Waterloo to stress the need to hold a confirmation hearing for Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo, and inquired why he is not among those being considered during Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee meeting.
After meeting with Senator Grassley’s staff, a number of local leaders issued statements in advance of tomorrow’s committee hearing:
Sue Dinsdale, Executive Director, Iowa Citizen Action Network:
“When he took over the judiciary committee, Senator Grassley led us all to believe he would not play politics with our courts. Unfortunately, the Senator has let down Iowans and Americans by blocking a number of judicial appointments, including even holding a hearing for Judge Restrepo. We can’t afford to wait any longer while Senator Grassley delays, delays, and delays.”
Matt Sinovic, Executive Director, Progress Iowa:
“If justice delayed is justice denied, then Senator Grassley is responsible for denying justice to far too many across the country. Our courts should be free from political influence, and the kind of petty gamesmanship being shown by Grassley with his refusal to even hold a hearing for Judge Restrepo.”
Chris Schwartz, Director, Americans for Democratic Action Iowa:
“Senator Grassley is building a legacy of obstruction, if he doesn’t hold hearings soon his legacy as an obstructionist will be written in stone.”
Joe Henry, State Director, League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa:
“It’s time for Senator Chuck Grassley to stop holding up the appointment of Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo. This vacancy on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is considered a judicial emergency. Yet Senator Grassley who heads the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has refused to hold a hearing on Judge Restrepo’s appointment even though the judge has the support of the senators from his home state and was unanimously appointed to his current position as a U.S. District judge by the U.S. Senate. Judge Restrepo has provided Senator Grassley with detailed responses to a long list of his questions, and has made many efforts to address any alleged concerns our senator may have. Our court system needs to be adequately staffed, and our government has an opportunity to do that with Judge Restrepo’s appointment. Senator Grassley has only let two of the seven people President Obama nominated to fill judgeships have hearings. Our senator needs to stop playing politics with our judicial branch and let these qualified individuals have their chance before the committee.”
Donna Red Wing, Executive Director, One Iowa:
“Senator Grassley would do well to remember that Judge Restrepo is a respected veteran attorney and judge. Before his appointment to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, he served as a state and federal public defender, a civil rights attorney, and a federal magistrate judge, among other accomplishments. Only two years ago, Judge Restrepo was unanimously confirmed for his seat on the District Court by both the Judiciary Committee and the full Senate. We respectfully ask that Senator Grassley immediately schedule a hearing for Judge Restrepo, and all the other judicial nominees languishing on his watch.”
It has been more than six months since President Obama nominated U.S. District Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Restrepo was born in Columbia, became a citizen in 1993, and earned his degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate to his current post as a judge in the Eastern District just two years ago.
Despite past public statements of support from home state Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, Senator Grassley has refused to hold a confirmation hearing for Restrepo.
Why the holdup on Third Circuit judge nominee?
Long past time to let 3rd circuit nominee Restrepo have his hearing
Charles Grassley, like it or not, will be up for re-election in 2016. There is no time like the present to let him know what he should be doing for the people of Iowa. Joni Ernst is in her first months and has already taken many steps that should be making her unpopular among voters. Like it or not, they are our senators and they need to hear from us.
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) may be up for a vote in the senate next week. My expectation, as I am sure yours is, is that Grassley and Ernst will vote for fast-tracking the TPP in lockstep with other Republicans. Remember this vote is not to approve the TPP, but to give the administration the ability to negotiate and approve the TPP basically behind closed doors. This is not what representative democracy is about.
Approving a trade pact the size of TPP in the dark just tears at all the basic tenets of democracy. From what we know TPP will affect every segment of our society. We have also learned that there are many troubling aspects to problem resolution within TPP that may overrule our laws from outside. Not a situation that America should allow itself to get into.
There appear to be many other troubling aspects of the TPP but we do not know for sure what is in this pact since all negotiations have been under super secrecy. The latest rumor is that the TPP is based on the model of the recent (2011) trade pact with South Korea (KORUS) that has been disastrous for the United States. That agreement has sent yet more American jobs offshore while greatly expanding our trade deficit. TPP will do the same on steroids. America can not afford the TPP.
Here is what I will send to our senators:
I am writing to ask that you vote against fast track authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership. This trade agreement will affect all aspects of the American economy and possibly aspects of out day tot day lives. In a democracy such as ours, any act that will have this much affect on the daily lives of our citizens should have open debate so that all sides may be brought out. There should also be plenty of time and opportunity for common citizens to offer input.
Please vote against fast tracking authority for the TPP when it comes to the senate floor.
Here are the email links for Grassley and Ernst:
Speculation may have been spurred last night on Iowa Press when former governor and current US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said he would not rule out putting his name on a ballot again.
From the radioiowa news story:
Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack says he wants to come back to Iowa and he isn’t ruling out another run for political office. Vilsack has served in President Obama’s cabinet since January of 2009, as the nation’s ag secretary.
“I have been really blessed and privileged by this state and the one thing I definitely want to do, regardless of the future, is I want to come back here and I want to contribute in some way,” Vilsack says. “I don’t want to go some place else. I want to come back home because this is where the people of Iowa gave me all these extraordinary opportunities and I will be forever indebted to them.”
Vilsack, who grew up in Pennsylvania, met Christie Bell of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, in college and adopted her hometown as his own after the couple married. Vilsack was elected mayor of Mount Pleasant and won a seat in the state senate before being elected governor in 1998. Vilsack won reelection in 2002, but did not seek a third term, saying eight years was enough. He’s not ruling out the idea of putting his name on an Iowa ballot again, though.
The first thought would be that Vilsack would most likely be interested in a state wide office. The major state wide office that would be up in the next election would be US senator. That seat is of course occupied by Chuck Grassley. In 2016 at the time of the next election, Grassley will be completing his 36th year as a senator and his 58th year in a legislative position. Over the years Grassley has embarrassed Iowans over and over, but somehow he keeps getting re-elected. Defeating Grassley will be a monumental task even at the then age of 83.
Here is an ad from his last run to remind us what an embarrassment Grassley can be:
Vilsack will have the name recognition that many of Grassley’s opponents have not had. He also will be running in a presidential year which historically has helped the Democratic turnout. As things are shaping up now, a national ticket with Hillary clinton at the top may add a spur to that turnout.
Just speculation folks. Removing Grassley from the senate should be a top priority for Iowans.
Below is a letter to the editor from Muscatine County Democratic chair, Don Paulsen
Forty-seven Republican U.S. Senators, including Iowa’s Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst, have shamefully and illegally tried to sabotage negotiations between the United States and Iran. The New York Daily News goes so far as to call them traitors. It’s pretty clear they have violated the Logan Act, which reads as follows-
“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or any officer thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.” (from Lestatdelc, Daily Kos, 3/10/15)
Indépendant U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders made this statement, “It appears that for most of my Republican colleagues in the Senate, a war if Afghanistan and a war in Iraq were not enough. They now apparently want a war in Iran as well. President Obama is working with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China to negotiate a peaceful means to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. These negotiations must be allowed to continue and, hopefully, will succeed. It is an outrage that my Republican colleagues are trying to sabotage that effort.”
No one wants Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Perhaps if the Israelis would allow international inspectors into their facility at Dimona the world would know how many nuclear bombs the Israelis have. That would certainly give any nation in the Middle East pause. Mutually Assured Destruction is still a valid point.
As for Grassley and Ernst, please resign immediately.
Ed. note – if you have never been outraged, you should be now. Will you do something?
Slightly over 60 days in office for one of our senators, a bit under half a century for our other senator. But there doesn’t seem to be a lick of sense between them at the moment.
Joni was never elected on her platform. As a matter of fact, you could easily say that most Iowans that voted for her probably had no idea where she stood on anything. She claimed she favored Social Security, but you had to dig down to find that what she favored was giving Social Security to the Wall Street gamblers. Outside of that she mouthed a few platitudes and avoided questioners like they had bubonic plague. She then sat back and let the Billionaire’s PACs negatively portray a very good man named Bruce Braley, and smiled all the way to the senate knowing full well that she had a huge debt to repay.
And Chuck? He is decades past being a reasonable senator. Chuck stuck his thumb up in the air around 1995 (probably earlier) and realized that doing whatever those with the money wanted would keep him well supplied with campaign cash. More importantly Chuck realized that taking orders kept away any challengers from his right. Thus in 2009 and 2010 when Americans of all stripe were begging, begging, begging their government to please let them have access to health care without having to go bankrupt, as if on orders, Chuck inserted himself smack in the middle doing all he could to deny medical care to Iowans and Americans. We elected him again anyway.
The supposed blank slate named Joni made sure to get her creeds up to snuff for her billionaire owners by coming out early to kill the ACA and replace it with some fanciful named Republican proposals that would send medical care in this country back to the 1800s. Her owners must be proud.
Then John Boehner sticks his nose into foreign policy by inviting the head of a foreign state, Bibi Netanyahu, to literally use the government of the United States as a token in his own re-election campaign. To say this was unprecedented and a total disrespect to the office of the president is being mild. Probably the worst single foreign policy insult in American history. But Joni and Chuck joined in because they know that their comfortable senate job depends on pleasing the billionaires. So, like every Republican in congress they fell right in line to be used like a harlot by Netanyahu.
Then Monday morning brings us the incredible letter signed by 47 Republicans that just supplanted the Netanyahu appearance as the greatest insult to a sitting president ever. Among the 47 signatures were those of our own potential teasers, Joni and Chuck.
How can we tell them just how proud we are? In 227 years as a republic we have never seen half of the senate sign a letter that borders on, or maybe crosses the line of treason. We have a new low in American politics and certainly in Iowa politics. Surely none here can remember any of our senators previously signing a treasonous letter.
There is just one reward for such actions. It is long past time for Iowans to stand up to Grassley and his disdain for Iowans and say with their vote in 2016 “Chuck, consorting with the enemy really crossed the line.” And we need to repeat it in 2020 with Joni.
Let’s add another major problem for Joni. As an active member of the military, she appears to have stepped way over the line that is allowed in the military. I know little of military law and will not pretend to. But the internet does have some very smart cookies out there. 8ackgr0und N015e at dailykos writes a rather intriguing diary about the hot water Joni may have gotten herself into. Please check the diary out yourselves, but here is the nut of the matter:
Chapter 29B.85 of the Iowa State Code of Military Justice.
29B.85 CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS.
Any person subject to this code who uses contemptuous words against the president, the governor, or the governor of any other state, territory, commonwealth, or possession in which that person may be serving, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
Iowans deserve some very serious explanations. Now!
My eye caught the name “Grassley” in the title of this diary on dailykos.com by Joan McCarter. So I peeked in and was astonished to see a former Grassley staffer actually telling the truth about the effects of the SCOTUS case of King v Burwell. The case is expected to be heard next month with a decision announced in late June. There are some 70,000 fellow Iowans who could immediately lose health care if SCOTUS decides against the ACA. Many, many more will lose insurance or be priced out of the market in the after shocks.
Here is the diary. I recommend you go to the link to read the full article by Julie Appleby . We also recommend reading the 30 or so comments on the diary on dailykos.
“Sen. Chuck Grassley was at the heart of the development of Obamacare, and one of his key staff members from that time has a dire warning about what the Supreme Court might do to gut the law.
“The doomsday scenario could materialize, and it does impact everyone,” said lawyer Christopher Condeluci, who worked for Iowa Republican Charles Grassley on the Senate Finance Committee staff during the law’s drafting. Those affected would include individuals receiving subsidies and those paying the full cost of their plans in states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey that use the federal exchange.
What’s that doomsday scenario, exactly:
Millions of consumers would likely be unable to afford their policies without subsidies.
Most insurers could not drop plans without giving one to three months’ notice. But the companies remaining in the market would likely seek sharp premium increases for the next year, anticipating that more of the sickest consumers would hold onto their plans. […]
“It’s not the subsidy market that will fall apart, it’s the whole market” for everyone who doesn’t get job-based insurance coverage, said Robert Laszewski, an insurance industry consultant who is no fan of the health law. “There will be millions of Republicans who are not subsidy-eligible who are also going to get screwed.”
Again, that’s another Republican who doesn’t like the law and sees impending doom for millions. Millions of Republicans. Who will be pissed at their elected Republican leaders for allowing this to happen.”
Remember that about a month ago when asked about King v Burwell, Senator Grassley said that the lawsuit was ridiculous.
During the run-up to the Nov. 18 vote on S-2280, a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, I messaged Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley, asking them to vote no. Harkin voted no, Grassley yes.
Senator Grassley sent along an explanation of his vote, which is pasted below. As he indicated, the motion failed to pass the Senate. What this letter doesn’t say is that I asked him to vote no, without any other comment. I have been around politics too long to believe that logic and rational thinking have much to do with why a U.S. Senator votes a certain way.
The framing of Grassley’s response points out the challenges opponents of the pipeline will have once the 114th Congress convenes. His arguments are rational in their way, if misguided.
It is hard to disagree with building a pipeline per se. There are many pipelines in the world, and they are a mode of transportation that serves the oil and natural gas industry, which in turn supports political stability. As Grassley pointed out, building pipelines creates jobs.
This is not a partisan issue. In Hillary Clinton’s secretary of state memoir, she mentions building pipelines several times, always as a solution to energy problems which in turn increases political stability around the globe. It will be hard to win the argument against Keystone XL because of the existential fact of it being a pipeline.
If oil prices continue to decline, the economic conditions which made the Tar Sands viable will erode. The reasons for declining oil prices are complex, but it boils down to a combination of increased U.S. shale oil production, lack of willingness by OPEC to curb production, and our society’s addiction to fossil fuels. It seems unlikely that the oil and gas industry will allow prices to get too low, and we are not in control here, except for our personal energy choices.
Something’s got to give to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Plugging an electric car into our household grid is not an answer if all we do is switch our energy source from gasoline to coal and nuclear, both of which have their own risks to human health. Grassley doesn’t directly mention decreasing reliance on fossil fuels as an issue in his response.
The argument about what happens to the oil in Texas is unresolved, despite Grassley’s assertion otherwise. The issue with refining, in light of increased U.S. oil production, is one of limited capacity. It has been a while since I was familiar with refining operations, but I suspect refineries are still running every minute they can to keep up with demand.
Could the refineries re-tool to handle Tar Sands oil? Yes, definitely. Is there an economic reason to do so when there is plenty of Middle East oil entering the Gulf of Mexico at a low price? Probably not in the short term, and there appears to be little interest in increasing refining capacity in light of the current regulatory environment. Going forward, one would expect the Tar Sands crude oil to be exported the way U.S. light sweet crude currently is—because the refineries are already doing all they can to keep up with imports.
Grassley’s right to say we should decrease our reliance on imported oil. The simple fact is there is not enough oil being produced in North America to meet U.S. needs, and as I mentioned, there are economic constraints to refining capacity. What is missing is affirmation of the need to decrease use of fossil fuels, and that’s more the problem with the response.
The trouble for opponents of Keystone XL is that Grassley takes apart many of their arguments in a way that will build political support for a likely re-consideration of the project in 2017, if not in 2015. It is important to read his response and learn from it… and hope the climate doesn’t reach the tipping point while we dance around what most needs doing: reducing and eliminating our reliance on fossil and nuclear fuels.
Charles E. Grassley
December 4, 2014
Thank you for taking the time to contact me. As your Senator, it is important for me to hear from you.
I appreciate knowing your concerns regarding the crude oil pipeline from Canada to Nebraska called the Keystone XL pipeline. On November 18, 2014, the Senate held debate and voted on S. 2280, a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. I was an original cosponsor of this bill and supported its passage. However, the bill failed by a final vote of 59-41, one vote short of the 60 votes necessary for it to pass the Senate.
The pipeline would supply more than 800,000 barrels a day of Canadian crude oil to U.S. refineries and help to counteract both insufficient domestic oil supplies in the United States and reduce dependence on less reliable foreign sources. The Keystone XL pipeline is a $7 billion, 1,700 mile pipeline that would create thousands of private-sector jobs at no cost to American taxpayers.
In 2008, TransCanada applied for a presidential permit from the State Department to construct and operate the pipeline. Due to environmental concerns, the State of Nebraska approved a modified route in January, 2013. Following this modification, the State Department released a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on the new presidential permit application. The State Department noted that oil sands development would go ahead regardless of the production of the pipeline by using different pipelines or rail to get to market. The report essentially found that the pipeline would not accelerate greenhouse gas emissions or significantly harm the environment along its route.
After nearly six years of rigorous regulatory review, the State Department issued its fifth environmental review on January 31, 2014. This fifth review reached the same conclusion as earlier reviews. It found that the pipeline will have no significant impact on the environment and is the safest way to transport the oil. It also found that rejection of the pipeline will not affect Canada’s decision to develop these oil resources. The administration had been in the middle of a 90-day review period for federal agencies assessing the State Department’s environmental study when, on April 18, 2014, the State Department announced an indefinite extension of the agency comment period.
Opponents of the Keystone pipeline argue that the pipeline will not increase oil and gas supplies in the United States, rather, that all of the Canadian crude would be sold to world markets. Even President Obama reiterated this claim when he said the pipeline would allow the Canadians to “pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else.” However, the Washington Post “Fact Checker” disproved this claim. It noted that the State Department’s final environmental impact statement specifically disputed claims that the oil would pass through the United States and be loaded onto vessels for ultimate sale in foreign markets. It found that the crude oil would almost certainly be refined in the United States, with at least 50 percent of the refined products remaining in the U.S. market. It stated, “market conditions could change, of course, but there is little basis to claim that virtually all of the product, or even a majority, would be exported.”
The energy and economic development benefits of this pipeline are too important to delay any longer. We need an all-of-the-above approach to meet the country’s energy needs and give consumers choice. That means oil, ethanol, electricity from wind, and nuclear power. A pipeline would be safer than transporting oil by rail. Canada will produce this oil with or without U.S. involvement in the shipment. I’d rather work with one of our strongest allies than continue to get oil from the volatile Middle East or Venezuela.
What is needed now in the United States is an increased supply of oil. It is simple economics. If you increase the supply, you decrease the price. We are still relying on a very finite amount of oil. We must increase our own domestic supply of energy while promoting the use of alternative sources of energy at the same time. I will continue to support these goals with your thoughts in mind.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate receiving your comments and urge you to keep in touch.
It is beginning to look like Joni Ernst just wants to be another Sara Palin. In case you forget who Palin is, she is the huge mistake John McCain nearly foisted on the US. Mostly known for being a real buffoon on the campaign trail, Palin is mostly forgotten now except when she says something so outrageous she can’t be ignored.
From Palin we have such golden moments as “mama grizzly”, “lipstick on a pig” and of course who could forget “I read them all” in response to a Katy Couric question on what newspaper she reads. She is constantly calling for the impeachment of President Obama, because, well he must have done something.
In only a few months on the old campaign trail Joni Ernst left her mark big time with her pig castration video. Beyond that some of her campaign ads have a “do you really want to go there?” feel. In one she shows her opponent Bruce Braley saying that Senator Chuck Grassley is a farmer. This may come as a surprise to Joni, but Grassley IS a farmer. Or at least claims he is. In reality Grassley is all politician. But I digress. Saying that calling a man who claims he is a farmer, a farmer is an insult how? Braley did not use “farmer” in a disparaging way, but Ernst surely does. And she is a farmer.
In another ad, she claims Braley missed several committee meetings. This from an elected state senator who could barely find her way to Des Moines last session. Only a small portion of her absences were due to Guard duty; most were due to campaigning. By the way has she ever seen a US House committee meeting? Committees with 50 members may be lucky to have 10 in attendance. If you can’t make it to Des Moines for you state senate job, could we expect any different from her if she is elected to the US senate? Even Republicans have their doubts.
Over the past year, Ernst has called for the impeachment of President Obama. This is now a sentiment that is sending shivers through the spines of Republicans. Ernst has also called for states to nullify federal laws. Maybe she missed it, but that was a settled issue back shortly after the Civil War.
Then last week when she was criticized for going to a fundraiser given by major oil interests said she “didn’t see a problem.” Well, at least we know who she will be working for. I think most Iowans can see a problem.
Just to add to the fun, playing the role of Todd Palin is Ernst’s husband Gail. In June Gail became a news item when his facebook posts concerning quite sexist remarks he made about Hillary Clinton. But other facebook entries make it plain he is on the very extreme right of this country. Makes you wonder if a husband ever influences his wife’s opinions doesn’t it?
Iowa is more than embarrassed enough by the likes of Steve King. Bruce Braley has proven over and over again his concern is about the country as a whole and Iowa in particular. He is beholden to no special interests. Braley’s views are those that most Iowans share.
Clearly his opponent hangs out in the very far right wing of a right wing party. Neither Iowa nor the country needs any more of those who wish to choke government from the inside. Much like Palin, Ernst has already proven we would be much better with her on the outside.