Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sen. Grassley says he and other Corn Belt senators could hold up Trump nominees over biofuels issue

We reported last week that Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa was outraged over President Trump's proposed rollback of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Now it appears as though he and other Corn Belt senators may be prepared to play hardball over it. At issue is the reduced requirements for ethanol in the fuel mix; Grassley and other legislators from corn-producing states say Trump is breaking a campaign promise to support ethanol.

Before an Oct. 17 meeting with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Grassley told reporters that he thinks "plenty" of Midwestern senators would consider holding up Trump's EPA nominees over the issue. Grassley said in a statement afterward that he "impressed upon Pruitt that supporting biofuels is 'good policy'" during the meeting, and that the message was "well-received," Ed Tibbetts reports for the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa.

But after the meeting, "Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, postponed the confirmation votes of four EPA nominees scheduled for today. That suggests that senators may have not gotten the commitment they were seeking from Pruitt, and that one or both of the Midwestern Republicans on the committee, Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), were willing to buck the Trump administration on the nominees," Dino Grandoni reports for The Washington Post.

Grassley may have other leverage in the fight: he's the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in last year's election.

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