Iowa senator Chuck Grassley is on a winning streak. As head of Senate Judiciary Committee, the Republican politician was instrumental in getting judge Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court. Today, Donald Trump is expected to hand Grassley another major victory.
At a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Trump plans to announce the lifting of a ban on ethanol content in gasoline. Currently, refiners are not allowed to blend more than 10% ethanol in gasoline during summer months, due to concerns about smog. The president wants to lift the limit to 15%, year-round.
The change would increase demand for corn, and therefore is great news for Iowa, one of the US’s top producers of that crop. It also is potentially great news for Grassley personally, who owns 750 acres of corn and soybeans.
America’s farmers voted for Trump, but haven’t fared very well under the president’s America First vision. Trump’s trade war with China has resulted in higher tariffs on their products. Trader jitters about tariffs—and American farmers losing global market share—have made prices for crops such as corn drop. Earlier this year, Grassley called the tariffs “very, very detrimental” and said that they were “a catastrophe already.”
The senator was also unhappy about Trump’s pick for head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, who waived ethanol mandates for oil refiners. Grassley, a longtime supporter of the ethanol industry, called for Pruitt’s resignation.
The president’s policies have cost Republicans in the Midwest politically. In Iowa, the Democratic candidate for governor, Fred Hubbell, is now a serious threat to Republican incumbent Kim Reynolds.
Trump’s trying to change that. The $12 billion in farm subsidies he pushed to lessen the blow from Chinese tariffs is starting to flow. In fact, Grassley himself applied for the help, saying “This is something you get because you are a farmer—equal treatment for everybody.”
The change in ethanol content rules, which Grassley called “a big boost” for farmers, should also help win back support.
Grassley is already feeling the rewards. He received standing ovations when he unexpectedly showed up at a Republicans’ dinner in Waterloo on Sunday.