Iowa officials joined in bipartisan support to help veterans and members of the armed forces re-enter the workforce, as well as advance breast cancer treatment technology for female veterans.
Before the House took a two-week recess, lawmakers also passed legislation to allocate additional funds to address the baby formula shortage.
Shortage of infant formula
Iowa lawmakers disagreed on how best to address a national infant formula shortage.
All Iowa lawmakers supported the Access to Baby Formula Act. The bill directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that those dependent on the federal Women, Infants, and Children’s Assistance (WIC) program receive formula at an affordable price.
Sen. Chuck Grassley was one of the co-sponsors of the bill, which passed the Senate unanimously on Thursday and is heading to the president’s desk.
“Today and in the future, we must ensure that all families are able to buy the formula milk needed to feed their infants. That’s why I was proud to support the Infant Formula Access Act, which will help families use the WIC program while taking the necessary steps to prevent a dangerous infant formula shortage from happening again. “Grassley said in a statement.
Rep. Cindy Axne, the only Democrat on the delegation, was the only one from Iowan to support the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriation Act, which passed the House this week. The bill would allocate $28 million in emergency funds to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to deal with the crisis and prevent future shortages. In Iowa, more than 50% of formulas are out of stock.
“As a mom, I know firsthand how critical it is for families to have access to safe baby formula and the current crisis is leaving families in Iowa and across the country with no one to go to. to turn. I’ve heard stories of parents in my district spending hours trying to find formula, and it’s unacceptable,” Axne said in a press release.
Rep. Ashley Hinson has proposed an alternative plan that would take $5.7 million from unused pandemic funds to address the formula shortage. His plan would also require the FDA to report to Congress on the supply chain shortage.
“The Biden administration ignored warning signs that a formula shortage was imminent, sitting on its hands until the shelves were empty,” Hinson said in a press release. “Their incompetence underscores the need for funding with safeguards and accountability for FDA failures. Throwing extra money at a problem is the wrong approach.
Supporting veterinarians to develop small businesses
A bipartisan bill introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst to help veterans develop their entrepreneurial skills passed the Senate Small Business Committee on Wednesday. Ernst sponsored the Veterans Entrepreneurship Training (VET) Act with Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat and veteran. The bill creates trade training for serving members of the armed forces and veterans.
In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 386,000 veterans were unemployed, but that number has been declining over time. The VET law would codify the “Boots to Business” program for four years.
“Our service members and their families sacrifice themselves to defend and preserve our country, and for many, the years following their time in uniform can be difficult,” Ernst said in a press release. “We want to create ways to make this transition to civilian life easier by providing them with opportunities that will allow them to succeed not only in the job market, but also in their everyday lives.”
Create health services for female veterans
The Senate and House passed two bipartisan laws to support female veterans. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks co-sponsored the SERVICE Act with Republican and Democratic members of the Senate.
The bill would require Veterans Affairs to inform the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees of the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer who serve in the armed forces. It would also require the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide mammography screenings to veterans who have been exposed to combustion fireplaces or other toxic exposures. Miller-Meeks told the House on Wednesday that female veterans have a 20 to 40 percent higher risk of breast cancer, and the risk increases when exposed to toxins and burns.
Miller-Meeks also joined Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, in introducing the MAMMO for Veterans Act, which passed unanimously in the Senate. This bill would upgrade all 3D mammograms at Veterans Affairs to the highest level of imaging technology and expand research for the treatment of breast cancer.
“Our veterans risked their lives and health in the service of our country. Female veterans are at particular risk for several types of cancer, particularly breast cancer,” Miller-Meeks said in a press release. “As a physician, I have always told my patients that early detection is the key to successful treatment of all types of cancer. I am thrilled to see my two bipartisan bills pass the House today and look forward to seeing them become laws to support female veterans across the country.
Axne to expand affordable post-secondary education for veterans
A bill introduced by Axne in January, the Veteran Student Work Study Modernization Act, passed the House 370-43 on Tuesday. The bill is intended to help part-time student veterans earn certifications or a degree without taking on excessive debt.
“I am thrilled that my legislation passed the House with broad bipartisan support, as our veterans received their benefits while serving,” Axne said in a press release. “We don’t need to put limits on the education of veterans when they have families to support or mortgages to pay.
Iowa Republicans sponsor awards for responsible farming practices
The House Agriculture Committee unanimously passed a bill sponsored by Hinson to create a conservation loan program to adopt environmentally friendly farming practices and technologies. The PRECISE Act (Producing Responsible Energy and Conservation Incentives and Solutions for the Environment) was co-sponsored by Rep. Randy Feenstra and Miller-Meeks.
“This legislation will make it easier for Iowa farmers to access precision farming technology through USDA programs they already know and trust,” Hinson said.
Grassley introduces bill to improve public safety
Grassley joined Democratic Georgia Sen. John Ossoff in introducing legislation to create training for law enforcement officials and first responders called in to deal with mental health cases. The Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act builds on an existing mental health program for people who come into contact with the justice system.
DC Dispatch: Iowa lawmakers disagree on how to address infant formula shortage