A partisan fight has erupted between the Republican legislature and Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller as lawmakers try to finalize a state budget and adjourn for the year.
Republicans have warned the AG to back off civil suits against the Trump administration, or face a cut in his office budget.
Miller has joined numerous multi-state challenges against the administration over a range of issues.
According to a spokesman for Miller, in 2017 the lawsuits involved Clean Air Act rules on smog, greenhouse gas rules, a rule on chemical accident safety, ACA subsidies, and the repeal of DACA, the program for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
In 2018, the cases include Trump administration action on net neutrality, methane emissions from oil and gas operations, and auto fuel efficiency standards.
Rep. Gary Worthan (R-Storm Lake) called that “blatant partisanship.”
“In the four years prior, he participated in no lawsuits against the [Obama] administration,” said Rep. Gary Worthan. “He and he alone must decide whether he serves the people of the state of Iowa or the base of the Democratic party.”
Worthan indicated in particular a challenge to the Trump administration’s proposal to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census. That could affect Iowa’s population in relation to states with large immigrant populations.
“It's conceivable that Iowa could lose a U.S. Congress member to a state like California or Arizona or Texas,” Worthan said.
The GOP-controlled House and Senate approved a status quo budget of $7.4 million for the attorney general’s office, but not before threatening to cut it by $600,000, or about 10 percent.
In a statement, Miller said joining lawsuits against the federal government represents “minimal costs” to his office.
“Most of the legal work is done by larger states, including drafting and filing of pleading and briefs, discovery, appearances at hearings and trials, and appeals,” Miller wrote. “I call them like I see them based on what I think is I think is right, what is legal, and what is in the best interests of Iowans.”
Miller cited the net neutrality and clean power plan cases as examples of issues he pursued “in the interest of Iowans.”