Thursday, October 19, 2017

Writer says Grassley could throw a big wrench into Trump's plans if biofuels demands are not met

We reported yesterday that Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa threatened to hold up President Trump's nominees for the Environmental Protection Agency if biofuel mandates are reduced in the Renewable Fuels Standard. But that's not the only card in Grassley's hand, and he could become a thorn in Trump's side if push comes to shove. As Philip Wegmann's opinion column in The Washington Examiner says, "When properly motivated, Chuck Grassley can crush skulls. Right now, the Iowan octogenarian is just playing around."

That's because, as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley has far-reaching power over Trump's judicial nominees: he controls when nominees get hearings and which nominees get voted on in the Senate floor. Trump has been frustrated by the Republican-controlled Senate's failure to pass significant legislation that he can claim as an administration win, so he's focused heavily on judicial appointments as a means for asserting his legacy. "Any slowdown in confirmations would deal a major blow to the administration," Wegmann writes. "Without judges, Trump looks even more impotent." There are about 60 judicial nominees awaiting confirmation right now.

The administration has been walking the fence thus far on the biofuels issue, promising lawmakers from corn-producing states that ethanol is important, but without firm assurances to support increased biodiesel requirements in the fuel mix under the RFS. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds spoke on the phone separately to both President Trump and EPA chief Scott Pruitt yesterday. "Both of them personally committed to me their continued commitment to the renewable fuel standard,” Reynolds told Reuters, and said the call with Trump was "positive."

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