The World-Herald’s Washington Bureau rounds up news highlights from Capitol Hill and beyond.
The Environmental Protection Agency will soon accept public comments on proposed new ethanol rules, but it might need a bleep function for the statements coming out of Nebraska and Iowa.
“No more Iowa nice — now it’s Iowa pissed.”
That was how Iowa Corn Growers Association CEO Craig Floss summarized his folks’ response to the EPA’s draft rule. Floss said he was quoting a longtime Iowa farmer who normally wouldn’t dream of using such inappropriate language.
Ethanol supporters have been complaining bitterly that the EPA has been doling out Renewable Fuel Standard exemptions to small refineries like candy during President Donald Trump’s tenure.
They say those exemptions, known as SREs, undermine the federal RFS, which requires the blending of billions of gallons of ethanol into the nation’s fuel supply every year. The result, they say, has been lower crop prices and idled ethanol plants.
That’s why there was so much rejoicing in the ethanol sector when the administration announced earlier this month that it would re-allocate gallons lost to future exemptions.
But jubilation turned to despair after the proposed rule was released last week with details that differed from what was promised.
Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said he’s heard from farmers and ethanol shareholders who were anticipating some certainty but instead got a rule that simply asks them to trust the EPA to do the right thing.
“They stood by Trump on the trade issues even though it was hurting their pocketbook, and then got repaid with an SRE knife between their shoulder blades,” Shaw said of farmers and ethanol backers. “I will say this though — I don’t think it’s too late to get this back on track and to restore some of that confidence.”
Several Midlands lawmakers told The World-Herald that they understand why farm and ethanol groups are suspicious of the EPA and urged constituents to register their thoughts through the 30-day public comment process that will follow an Oct. 30 public hearing.
“I’m extremely disappointed in where we are, and we’ll see how the comment period goes,” Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb, said.
On the international front, Capitol Hill lawmakers spent last week wrestling with the ongoing crisis in Syria.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, was one of only 60 House Republicans to oppose the resolution, saying that he stands with the president on his decision.
As the 2020 election ramps up, campaigns’ third-quarter fundraising reports were due last week. They show that Republican incumbents in Nebraska, including Sen. Ben Sasse and Rep. Don Bacon, start with a significant fundraising edge over their challengers.
Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates
Receive a summary of the day’s popular and trending stories from Omaha.com.
Outsourcing bill OK’d
The House voted to approve Axne’s legislation on corporate outsourcing on a largely party-line vote of 226-184. No Democrats opposed it, while just two Republicans supported it.
Axne said the bill would increase transparency by requiring publicly traded companies to disclose where their workers are located.
“I’ve heard from dozens of Iowans in my district who are wondering how they’re going to pay their bills because they’ve been laid off due to ‘technological advances,’ only to then be asked to train their replacement overseas,” Axne said in a press release.
Eliminating presidential perks
The Iowa Republican said former presidents are pulling in millions of dollars through speaking engagements, Netflix deals and other avenues, but they still get significant taxpayer-funded perks such as travel, personal staff and office space.
Her bill would apply to future ex-presidents — those who have already left 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. would continue receiving benefits under the current system. And it would not affect security or protection of former presidents.
The legislation must still be passed by the Senate to reach Trump’s desk. When Ernst introduced the bill in a previous session of Congress, it passed both chambers but was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama.
Basketball in China
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., continues to share his thoughts on the conflict between China and the NBA.
Sasse recently issued a press release about China asking the NBA to fire Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for a tweet supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
“It’s good that Morey still has his job and the NBA deserves credit there,” Sasse said. “Let’s put this in perspective though: When an American citizen stands for basic human rights, the Chinese Communist Party tries to get him fired. But when a Chinese citizen stands for basic human rights, the Chinese Communist Party has a way of making them disappear.”
1 of 90
Rain clouds and a bit of a rainbow roll over the Millard, Nebraska, sky on Aug. 16, 2016.
The sun sets behind a center pivot located north of Red Cloud, Nebraska, on Thursday, July 27, 2006.
Storm clouds hide the sun as it sets over Nebraska's Sand Hills on July 7, 2009, near Thedord, Nebraska.
A summer storm passes north of Rose, Nebraska, on Sunday, June 10, 2007.
A rainbow forms over U.S. Highway 12, just east of Valentine, Nebraska, as storms roll over the area on July 25, 2017.
The sun sets behind an approaching storm as a car heads west on U.S. Highway 34 near Union, Nebraska, on April 24, 2016.
Icicles form on vines in downtown Omaha on Feb. 24, 2017.
Railroad tracks are illuminated by the setting sun on May 3, 2017, east of Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
The sun sets behind Chimney Rock on May 3, 2017.
Members of the Boats, Bikes, Boots & Brews group head to shore as the sun sets after an evening out on Lake Zorinsky on April 22, 2015.
Icicles hang from the horse carriage parking sign in the Old Market on Jan. 15, 2017.
Wheat, ready for the combine, is silhouetted by the setting sun as the wheat harvest on the Lagler farm near Grant, Nebraska, was in full swing on July 7, 2005.
A layer of fog covers the Missouri River near the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge on Feb. 5, 2015.
A setting sun creates a pink haze on a windmill and the Sand Hills southwest of Rushville, Nebraska, on Sept. 22, 2007.
Pigeons scatter at sunset as the St. John's steeple is silhouetted against the Woodmen tower in downtown Omaha on Oct. 3, 2014.
The sun bursts behind the clouds over the North Platte River east of Bridgeport, Nebraska, on July 26, 2006.
Steve Jobman, a farmer south of Minatare, Nebraska, cuts alfalfa after sunset on June 2, 2004.
Wheat waves in the wind in a field west of Dalton, Nebraska, on July 18, 2001.
The moon rises over the northern cross of the St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha on Feb. 10, 2017. On this night, there was a full moon, a lunar eclipse and comet 45P passed by the earth.
As the wind speed picks up, a woman holds onto her hood while crossing 16th Street along Dodge Street in Omaha on Feb. 24, 2017.
From left: Melody Borcherding, Kseniya Burgoon and Michael Beltz scoop out a vehicle on Jan. 23, 2018, in Norfolk.
Jeff Bachman harvests soybeans and prepares to transfer them as the sun sets on a field near Ayr, Nebraska, on Oct. 19, 2008.
As the sun sets, sandhill cranes arrive to roost in the Platte River at the Rowe Sanctuary & Iain Nicholson Audubon Center south of Gibbon, Nebraska, on March 12, 2008.
A pair of sandhill cranes pass in front of the moon shortly after sunrise at the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary near Gibbon, Nebraska, on March 13, 2012. Sandhill cranes, which mate for life, can live between 20 and 40 years.
A windmill is dwarfed by storm clouds near Crawford, Nebraska, on May 3, 2017.
An early November storm system rolls through the Great Plains, but Omaha only receives rain, which collected on freshly-fallen leaves on Nov. 11, 2015.
Cattle head up to a well to get a drink at the end of the day near Sparks, Nebraska, on Aug. 21, 2015. Smoke from the wildfires in the western states created a haze.
The moon rises above the corn as farmers harvest the last of their fields in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa on Nov. 5, 2014.
Two riders help round up part of the 750 head of cattle branded at the Lute Family Ranch, located south of Hyannis, Nebraska, on May 12, 2005. Mick Knott, who runs the ranch, owns about half the cattle, and the Lute Foundation owns the rest. The work started about dawn and finished about noon.
The rising sun illuminates a tree and a windmill in a snow-covered field located on U.S. Highway 20 between Rushville and Chadron, Nebraska, on March 1, 2017.
The College Home Run Derby was held at TD Ameritrade Park and was highlighted by The World-Herald's annual Independence Day fireworks display on July 2, 2015.
Fog rises from the Missouri River and covers the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge on Jan. 5, 2010.
The weekend's perfect weather colored the clouds at sunset south of Wymore, Nebraska, on Oct. 23, 2004.
Deer chill out at Chalco Hills Recreation Area on Feb. 22, 2018.
A leaf is covered in a dusting of snow near 138th and Hickory Streets on Dec. 18, 2014, in Millard.
A runner emerges from the edge of the rising sun on Sept. 11, 2015, at Zorinsky Lake Park and Recreation Area in Omaha.
Nearly 45 minutes after sunset, an orange and blue glow is seen setting behind the Omaha skyline flanked between trees in Council Bluffs on Jan. 11, 2018.
Rain drops collect on a flower following early showers on May 10, 2017, in Millard.
The promise of rain is fleeting for the seven windmills on the Watson Ranch north of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, on U.S. 71 on May 16, 2004.
A crescent moon sets behind the UNO bell tower on Nov. 6, 2013.
Ralph Remmert is depicted in the mural "Fertile Ground" near 13th and Mike Fahey Streets in north downtown Omaha on June 19, 2017.
Ralph Kohler, 94, keeps his eyes to the sky for ducks and geese as the sun rises over his hunting pond east of Tekamah, Nebraska, on Nov. 30, 2011. Kohler has been a professional guide for most of his life, and he is preparing for the spring season.
The sun rises over St. Paul Lutheran Church, located three miles north of Republican City, Nebraska, in March of 2004.
Geese are silhouetted in the color and clouds as the sun sets at Zorinsky Lake on Feb. 21, 2016.
The sun rises on Chimney Rock on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, near McGrew, Nebraska.
Cranes walk through the shallow water of the Platte River shortly before sunset near The Crane Trust, which is close to Wood River, Nebraska, on March 13, 2012. The river provides cranes with a safe place from predators for rest at night.
A bespangled vest awaits a rider during Nebraska's Big Rodeo on July 25, 2013, in Burwell, Nebraska.
Horses stand in the snow on Feb. 22, 2018.
Residents of the Nebraska Panhandle enjoyed unseasonably mild temperatures and cloud cover on Aug. 12, 2004.
Members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association hold their hats as 2013 Miss Burwell Rodeo Olivia Hunsperger passes by during the opening ceremonies on July 27, 2013, in Burwell, Nebraska. "This may be a small town, but it's got a big rodeo, and it's got a really big heart," Hunsperger said.
A break in the clouds highlights downtown Omaha as seen from Lewis Central High School in Council Bluffs, as severe storms passed through the Omaha Metro area on June 5, 2014.
John Wanief waits for the bus in a shelter at 120th Street and West Center Road as cold rain pours down in Millard on Nov. 11, 2015.
Flocks of waterfowl fill the sky as the sun rises over Ponca, Nebraska, on March 3, 2018.
A red tail hawk perches on a light stanchion backed by the moon and overlooking the property near the Indian Creek development in Omaha on Feb. 27, 2018.
A woman walks with two dogs in Memorial Park near Dodge Street as many sledders go down the hill in Omaha, Nebraska, on Feb. 2, 2016. MATT MILLER/THE WORLD-HERALD
The sun sets over Sidney, Nebraska, on June 2, 2015.
The rising sun shines on a snow-covered hill located north of Chadron, Nebraska, on March 1, 2017.
Storm clouds are illuminated by the setting sun as people exit a football camp in Lincoln on Friday, June 16, 2017.
Sharon Vencil walks her dogs, Blackie and Whitie, along the Field Club Trail on March 6, 2018, in Omaha.
The morning sun burns off a layer of fog just north of the Chimney Rock.
The sun rises behind one of seven wind generators as a windmill pumps water for cattle just northwest of Kimball, Nebraska, on Sept. 17, 2002.
A slightly less than full moon known as a waning gibbous is seen near the colorful Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge on June 22, 2016.
A combine fills a truck with corn during harvest near Wahoo, Nebraska, on Oct. 22, 2015.
Birds take flight at Ponca State Park on March 3, 2018.
Michael Martin of Chadron, Nebraska, fishes for pike at the Chadron Reservoir on May 2, 2017.
The headlights and taillights on vehicles pass by water droplets on a windshield of a car as high winds, hail and rain hit Omaha on March 23, 2016.
The sun silhouettes Cecilia Cathedral as it shines through the rain clouds hanging around Omaha on Aug. 12, 2016.
A bird takes flight in the early morning fog at Zorinsky Lake on Feb. 6, 2017, in Omaha.
Three horses graze at sunset in a pasture east of Valentine, Nebraska, along U.S. Highway 12 on July 8, 2014.
As the sun sets, cattails and trees are highlighted at Island Lake, a popular hunting area at the Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Garden County, Nebraska, on Nov. 17, 2013.