Sen. Ted Cruz held up a President Donald Trump nominee Wednesday to retaliate against Republicans who used a similar tactic to derail potential EPA reforms of the biofuels mandate.
Cruz and fellow Republican Sen. Mike Lee put a hold on the nomination of Bill Northey to a senior post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The holdup was a “reaction” to the way Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s supported forcing EPA into protecting the mandate, sources told reporters.
Lee lifted his hold on Wednesday afternoon, a spokesman for the Utah senator said, but a Republican Senate aide said Cruz’s hold has not been lifted. The Texas Republican has not responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s questions about the condition of Cruz’s holdup.
“It’s about time someone stood up to the kind of extortion we have seen coming from some of the Midwestern senators when the RFS is at issue,” one refining industry source told reporters Thursday. The oil refining industry was hoping Trump would make dramatic changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard requirement.
Cruz’s holdup is a direct shot across Grassley’s bow. Grassley’s grandson, Iowa State Rep. Pat Grassley, is a candidate to replace Northey as Iowa agriculture secretary if he is confirmed, the Des Moines Register reported in September.
Grassley held up the nominations earlier this month of Michael Dourson, who was picked to run the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, and Bill Wehrum, a former agency official. The Iowa senator blocked the nominees to extract concessions from EPA chief Scott Pruitt that the biofuels mandate would not be changed.
Trump, like most of his Republican opponents, campaigned during the presidential election on maintaining the standard as a sop to Iowa farmers dependent on the high-priced corn-based fuel. But recent reports suggest that Pruitt is determined to slash RIN prices. Cruz campaigned against the renewable fuels mandate.
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