Axne set out to repair that. In the weeks since she got assurances from congressional leaders that a separate multi trillion-dollar budget blueprint would include money for renewable fuels. She's now on board.
Her biofuels bargain marks the political approach embedded in the negotiations over the huge new federal spending.
While Democrats have set out to pass ambitious bills with historic expansions of the social safety net and long-sought new programs, that's not how many politically exposed Democrats like Axne are selling them at home. For them, Washington's spending boom has become an opportunity to deliver the goods — and win headlines and maybe bipartisan support in their districts.
“If she wants to get elected next time, this is her political bread and butter,” Ray Gaesser, a Republican farmer in Axne’s district and past candidate for Iowa secretary of agriculture, announced regarding her work to acquire money for biofuels. “For my part, I appreciate her approach."
Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota has taken a similar tack. Craig, whose district includes vast tracts of farmland southeast of the Twin Cities, is advancing her role securing $2.5 billion for farmers and rural small businesses to switch to renewable energy sources and high-efficiency equipment as a financial reason to meet higher environmental standards.
She tweeted on Friday that she was “thrilled that this long-time priority of mine” would be “supporting family farmers and driving investment across rural America.”
In Virginia, Rep. Abigail Spanberger announced she is mainly focused on a measure to release her district’s small-scale farmers and foresters from an increase in the estate tax which President Joe Biden has offered to help pay for the $3.5 trillion bill.
Though Spanberger’s constituents are concentrated in suburban Richmond, the district extends north and south across the rolling, agricultural Piedmont and its many dairy, vegetable, and cattle farms and private forestland.
“I’ve been very focused on making sure we’re protecting small family farmers and foresters, certainly across central Virginia,” Spanberger told The Associated Press.
The lawmakers' applications are aimed at helping rural America, where Democrats have steadily lost votes over the past decade. The party is clear-eyed about needing to at least trim its losses in those areas if they are to hold the congressional seats — and power of the House in 2022.