Addressing concerns from the debt ceiling to repairing the infrastructure of Webster City, U.S. Rep. Steve King also said he had no answer as to whether or not he will run for the Senate seat soon to be left vacant by Tom Harkin.
Members of the Webster City community and City Council met for a roundtable discussion with King on Monday afternoon in the City Council chambers. King began the discussion by presenting what he sees as the three big issues facing the new 113th congress. That includes the debt ceiling debate, the sequestration debate and the continuing resolution debate.
King said he worked to extend the debt ceiling to May 18. He said if he did not do that, all three of those debates would have likely come in a single week and would have given more leverage to President Obama.
Rep. Steve King, R, 4th District, visited the Webster City City Council to answer questions about the legislative session and to check in with constituents.
The effects of sequestration have not been felt as strongly in Iowa, according to King, but that was almost not the case for meat inspectors in Iowa. King said the threat of sequestration in Iowa came in the form of meat inspectors being furloughed nationwide. Lawmakers moved $55 million from a USDA administrative account to a meat inspector wages account to prevent a lack of meat inspections. The only other similar accommodation was made for military personnel. King said a series of 13 appropriations bills will be debated in the house to mitigate the sequestration in a similar manner.
"We'll make those changes to the line items so that those places where sequestration cut indiscriminately, the cuts overall will be maintained, but it will be with the positive discrimination of moving money into the accounts that need it and out of the accounts that don't need it within the budget cap of the [Paul] Ryan budget," King said.
Those appropriations bills will later be sent to the Senate, then pending approval, the President. King said it is harder to predict how President Obama will act on those bills, but those adjustments should be made by the beginning of the next fiscal year, Oct. 1.
"There's maybe a long summer with some flare-ups on sequestration, but there are 44 other states that have deeper cuts and have more impact than Iowa. As Iowans, I'm just going to say we can handle this, and if this is what it takes to get cuts in a government that's blown out of proportion, if we can't take this kind of pain, we're never going to solve this problem the country has," King said.
King addressed what he called the elephant in the room, which was the possibility of him running for Tom Harkin's Senate seat, which will be open in 2014.
While King said that he and his staff have been polling across Iowa, crunching numbers and waiting on a couple reports, he said he doesn't have an answer to whether or not he will run.
"I can't give any indication, but I know I need to make up my mind quickly because there are also a lot of people that are out there that would also like to make decisions," King said.
Webster City Mayor Janet Adams asked King what the government could do to help Webster City, which she said has problems with infrastructure and aging homes. She said the city applied for grants to fix those problems, but was turned down.
King said that is the unfortunate part of local government, because the taxing authority for those local governments has to go through the state Legislature.
"Here's how I see this. The state and the federal government impose regulations, then they require that you get your sanitary and water system up to their standards, and you can't possibly fund that to meet those regulations due to tax limitations. So, the state and the federal government has an obligation if they are going to regulate you into compliance to provide a respectable component of the funds because they eliminate your ability to raise those funds locally," King said.
King said he was interested in working with the City Council on fixing those problems at a later date.