JOHNSTON, Iowa—Political journalists seem enamored with the notion of Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, challenging Gov. Terry Branstad in 2014. Braley gamely played along Friday during a taping of “Iowa Press.”
“I am moving forward—planning to run for reelection in 2014. But, things can change,” Braley told reporters after the show. “I’m trying to focus on doing my job, and the rest will all sort itself out as things happen.”
Republican strategists also seem giddy that Braley might actually consider giving up a relatively safe congressional seat in Eastern Iowa to take on Branstad, who has never lost an election.
Braley declined to take a position on thorny local issues such as local vs. state control of agriculture, indicating that the savvy trial lawyer-turned-congressman understands the risks inherent in a Washington, D.C.-based lawmaker navigating state-specific issues.
During the show Braley announced that he would co-sponsor a bill to ban the sale of so-called high-capacity magazines. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced a similar bill Thursday banning ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 bullets.
Braley also said he supports President Obama’s proposals for executive action, a national gun registry and more thorough background checks. He acknowledged the practical, logistical challenges of such a forward-looking ban considering the amount of magazines already in existence. Nonetheless, Braley said that discussing the issue would be constructive.
“It’s always very difficult to eliminate a product that has been lawfully sold once it’s in the marketplace, so one of the things that should be happening is a wide-scale conversation about the impact of all of the factors that influence violence in our society,” he said.
Braley suggested a federal recall program similar to the umbrella program used by six federal agencies to alert the American people to unsafe, hazardous or defective products.
“The challenge isn’t whether it’s effective, it’s whether realistically you can get dangerous products off the marketplace,” Braley said. “We have recall programs right now for products that have been identified as creating a risk to consumers. So, one of the things that you can do is look at ways of trying to get those back in through a program that would give incentives for doing that.”
During the half-hour news show, Braley faced questioning from Radio Iowa’s Kay Henderson and the Gazette’s James Lynch. Iowa Press moderator Dean Borg asked Braley about comments last week from Branstad, who was also on the show. Branstad asked Borg to ask Braley when Iowa last elected a congressman governor (answer: 1920).
“Well, it’s kind of interesting that he would ask you to ask me that question,” Braley said, noting that his friend, former Rep. Jay Inslee is now governor of Washington, Mike Pence, a former Republican congressman is governor of Indiana.
“I’m not spending a lot of time thinking about [the next election]. When you run on a two year cycle, it never gets away from you, but there is so much on our plate right now…” he said.
On immigration, Braley said that he’s optimistic that Congress can pass comprehensive legislation. He rejected descriptions of a broad package as amnesty, arguing that the Vietnam-era connotations of the term no longer ring true. Braley also said that he recently met with leaders from the American Farm Bureau, whose top legislative priority is immigration reform.
“Here in Iowa, people are arrested, charged with fines, plead guilty, go on probation, and, if they meet certain conditions, their records are expunged,” Braley said, suggesting that illegal immigrants should be forced to pay fines and undergo a probationary period before obtaining citizenship.
“We have to be looking for creative solutions,” he said.
“Iowa Press” airs tonight at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 8:30 a.m. and Sunday at noon on Iowa Public Television.
Transcript from Braley’s press availability with Iowa journalists after the taping
On Braley’s political future:
I’m not spending a lot of time thinking about [the next election]. When you run on a two year cycle, it never gets away from you, but there is so much on our plate right now to deal with that the main focus that I have right now is dealing with four deadlines that are coming up rapidly [sequestration on March 1, continuing resolution on appropriations expires March 27, pass budget by April 15 or no congressional pay, debt ceiling by May].
There is no alarm for me, I am moving forward—planning to run for reelection in 2014. But, things can change, and, so, that’s what my focus is. I’m planning to run for reelection, and I’m trying to focus on doing my job, and the rest will all sort itself out as things happen.
On local vs. state control of large-scale agriculture operations:
Well, since I am a federal elected official, I have no input into local control decisions under the Iowa Constitution. Those are issues that are resolved by the Iowa legislature with input from local elected officials and voters.
I think that the most important thing is to make sure that when you’re addressing those issues, you give people the opportunity to provide feedback… These are issues that are going on all the time. We’ve seen them play out in Iowa throughout our history. The issue of home rule is covered by the state constitution and the laws of the State of Iowa, and counties clearly have a role in terms of zoning regulation. And there’s always tension between the extent of their home rule and how broad their authority is. That tension gets involved by action taken by the Iowa legislature and the courts who enforce the law.
On Braley’s proposed bill to ban “high-capacity magazines”—what do proponents plan to do about existing high-capacity magazines?:
That’s an issue that would have to be resolved. It’s always very difficult to eliminate a product that has been lawfully sold once it’s in the marketplace, so one of the things that should be happening is a wide-scale conversation about the impact of all of the factors that influence violence in our society. One of them is the availability of high-capacity magazines, but my understanding from the legislation that I’ve seen is that it’s prospective in its application.
On whether “prospective” legislation would be effective:
The problem—the challenge isn’t whether it’s effective, it’s whether realistically you can get dangerous products off the marketplace. We have recall programs right now for products that have been identified as creating a risk to consumers. So, one of the things that you can do is look at ways of trying to get those back in through a program that would give incentives for doing that. This is early in the conversation and there will be legislation introduced, there may be hearings in committees of jurisdiction in the House and Senate, and that’s the time to have a long conversation about the practical implications of dealing with this problem.
[source: ‘Iowa Press’/Iowa Public Television]
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