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Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)

Sen. Joni Ernst

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Ernst Joins ABC This Week to Discuss Afghanistan

Combat veteran and U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined Martha Raddatz on ABC This Week to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Excerpts from the interview are below. For the full interview, click here.

Click here or on the image above to watch the interview. 

On getting Americans safely out of Afghanistan:

“We should be doing everything possible to get Americans safely to the airport for evacuation. We are the strongest military on the face of this planet and we should be exercising those authorities to make sure that we are flexing our military muscle—especially when it comes to evacuating Americans.”

On vetting and evacuating Afghan allies:

“We have been on the Administration for months now to be working on the vetting process—to make sure we’re working with those interpreters—to get them safely out of the country. The State Department, it has drug it’s feet, it has moved so slowly, and now we’re at a point where these Afghan interpreters—other partners—are in deep jeopardy with the Taliban because they weren’t able to get their vetting done on time. So it is important that we continue pressing on with this…we should be doing absolutely everything we can to assist those who assisted us for the past two decades in the Global War on Terror.”

On President Biden’s poor planning:

“…it is so important that we continue working with these third-country nations providing them with whatever support we can in those countries, and this is where President Biden, unfortunately, has really—he has messed it up, I’ll just put it out there—of course with our international community with this haphazard withdrawal. If we had been working with those allies, those partner countries, this would’ve been a lot easier. He knew this day was coming, and again, was very slow to respond to the needs of not only our American citizens—by pulling those troops out before we had them safely out of Afghanistan—but he’s also again jeopardized those that were partners to us through an extended war on terror.” 

Background:

In a letter to both the Secretaries of State and Defense earlier this week, Ernst called on the Biden Administration to provide answers on the safety of American citizens and details on the plans to get them out of Afghanistan. Ernst also urged President Biden to fulfill his “solemn responsibility to evacuate all American citizens and Afghan partners without respect to arbitrary timelines dictated by the Taliban.”

In May, Ernst teamed up with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to lead a bipartisan effort to express widespread support in the Senate for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for Afghans, and to urge continued support from the administration to uphold the integrity of the program. Their bipartisan bill to provide immediate improvements to and strengthen the efficiency of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program was signed into law.

This week, Ernst and Shaheen led 53 of their colleagues in urging the administration to address the quickly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and implement the Ernst-Shaheen SIV bill.

 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Ernst to President Biden: Devote “All Means Necessary” to Evacuate Americans, Eligible Partners from Afghanistan

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a veteran of the Global War on Terror and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is urging President Joe Biden to fulfill his “solemn responsibility to evacuate all American citizens and Afghan partners without respect to arbitrary timelines dictated by the Taliban.” Ernst joined 15 of her Republican colleagues on a letter to the president.

“We are extremely concerned that, despite our recommendations, your administration failed to establish a coherent plan to get all American civilians and Afghans who have aided us out of the country as quickly and safely as possible. This must be our top priority,” the senators wrote. “Not only should we protect American citizens in Afghanistan, we must also uphold our promise to the thousands of Afghans who put their lives on the line to work with us to advance our shared security goals.”

“You must devote all means necessary to ensure every American citizen and all eligible Afghan partners are successfully evacuated. In addition, you must make it clear to the Taliban and every other terrorist group that they will face severe consequences if they attempt to interfere with this process,” the senators.

Background:

This letter reinforces Ernst’s calls for the Biden Administration to authorize the U.S. military to guarantee safe passage for Americans to Hamid Karzai International Airport, and commit to evacuating every American from the country before again withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan at or beyond the end of August.

In May, Ernst teamed up with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to lead a bipartisan effort to express widespread support in the Senate for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for Afghans, and to urge continued support from the administration to uphold the integrity of the program. Their bipartisan bill to provide immediate improvements to and strengthen the efficiency of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program was signed into law.

Earlier today Ernst and Shaheen led 53 of their colleagues in urging the administration to address the quickly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and implement the Ernst-Shaheen SIV bill.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Joni Ernst: Only in Washington, D.C. does the word “trillion” get thrown around so often and so easily.

Under the Biden Administration, there’s a lot of bad news coming out of Washington, D.C. The Administration’s failure to address, or even acknowledge, the crisis at our southern border; their neglect of skyrocketing inflation and rising costs of everything from gasoline to milk; and, of course, their march toward socialism as they continue their reckless tax-and-spend spree. While it’s easy to gloss over the details of these misguided policies, it’s important to understand the impact they will have on Iowa families—particularly when it comes to their pocketbooks.

Our national debt is nearing $30 trillion. Already this year, Democrats have spent $2 trillion of hardworking taxpayer money on legislation they passed without any Republican input or support, and hurt our economy by paying people more to stay home than get a job.

But they’re not done yet: while our families are already feeling the burden from rising costs of goods and services, Washington Democrats want to continue to spend at reckless rates. Their $3.5 trillion spending spree nears the total cost of the entire Second World War—the most expensive war in history—when adjusted to today’s dollar.

Only in Washington, D.C. does the word “trillion” get thrown around so often and so easily.

How much is a trillion? For reference, a stack of one billion dollar bills would be approximately 68 miles high—about the height of Jeff Bezos’ flight to space earlier this week. A stack of one trillion dollar bills would reach almost 68,000 miles into space. If an individual Iowan spent $40 per second, it would take them over 790 years to blow through $1 trillion. It truly is hard to comprehend how much money we’re talking.

It’s time for Washington politicians to come back down to Earth. The enormous costs of these proposals have real life impacts on Iowa’s farmers, families, and small businesses. We’ve already seen the prices of essential household items increase at the highest rate in nearly 13 years. The answer is not to raise taxes to continue to print and spend more money.

It’s also important to remember that the bills for the Democrats’ liberal wish lists are eventually going to come due—and it is Iowa taxpayers that are going to be stuck with the tab. The folks I meet with across the state on my 99 County Tour work hard and live within their means, and they want Washington to do the same.

Instead of a never-ending tax-and-spend spree, Congress needs to rein it in. A trillion dollars might not mean a lot to President Biden and his liberal allies in Congress, but it means a heck of a lot to the taxpayers in Iowa who are footing their bill. It’s time to put an end to the Democrats’ reckless, multi-trillion-dollar taxing and spending spree, and I hope there are some commonsense folks across the aisle who will agree.

Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Joni Ernst: Cuba Serves as a Reminder of the Dangers of Communism and Socialism, Promise of America

Last weekend, Cubans from across the island nation—from Havana to Santiago—took to the streets, rising up against the Communist-run government, as they face the worst economic conditions in decades. While the Cuban people have long suffered under authoritarian rule, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated their hardships and further revealed the abject failures of socialism.

Immediately, videos of the demonstrations flooded social media. It’s been inspiring to see the people of Cuba reject generations of dictatorship and demand liberty. And in many of their hands, they carried the ultimate symbol of liberty–an American flag.

While some people in this country may not agree, the American flag represents hope, opportunity, and freedom—not just within our borders, but across the world. The principles of democracy represented by our stars and stripes are what the Cuban people deserve to have too. Here in Iowa, and across America, we hear their calls and stand united with these men and women in their fight for liberty.

The movement being led by the courageous people of Cuba also serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of socialism and communism. These repressive ideologies have failed every time, and in Cuba they’ve led to 62 years of corruption and poverty. The sad reality is many in the Democratic Party ignore the evidence in front of them of what communism entails. Instead, they continue to march towards the far Left and promote socialism or socialist principles right here in America.

During my time at Iowa State University, I attended an agriculture exchange program in the Soviet Union. I witnessed the devastation of socialism and communism up close, and I immediately realized how truly grateful I was for the many freedoms offered to me as an American. I’ve spent my life defending our American ideals, in uniform and now in the United States Senate. Now, it’s important for the United States to stand with the Cuban people who yearn for the same basic human rights and democracy that we enjoy.

These historic demonstrations mark a turning point. The Biden Administration must be steadfast and clear in their support for the Cuban people. I’m hopeful the men and women of Cuba can chart a new path forward—one of liberty and opportunity.

Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Sen. Joni Ernst: Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal puts American lives at risk

As Published In: Fox News | July 2, 2021

When an American president makes a decision on military deployment, the action sends signals to friends and foes alike around the globe.

Take for example President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. Not only was this hasty and misguided, disregarding conditions on the ground, it was also a political message calculated for a front-page or primetime talking point on the 20 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

We can’t ignore the reality on the ground in Afghanistan. Many of the threats that brought us there in the first place are spreading through the region. The Taliban is gaining strength and threatening the Afghanistan government. They also threaten those who worked alongside our U.S. military and diplomatic personnel. President Biden’s announcement of a precipitous withdrawal emboldens the Taliban and their allies.

Once the United States military is gone, I’m concerned the Afghan government will struggle to hold on, giving space for extremist groups like al-Qaeda and rogue terrorist states like Iran to regroup for continued attacks against the U.S. And sadly, recent history would show that this is a very dangerous reality that could easily play out, in person or on social media.

U.S. military, intelligence, and homeland security agencies must be vigilant and clear-eyed about what the inevitable consequences of a rushed withdrawal from Afghanistan could mean to our homeland. We should not leave haphazardly and without a plan. And doing so, unconditionally and uncoordinated, may risk our national security. The American people know that what happens over a continent away can have a direct impact on their safety.

That’s why I’m introducing the Preventing Terrorism from Hitting America’s Streets Act. This bill will require our nation’s military, intelligence, and homeland security branches to take a cold, hard look at the increased risk that a hurried withdrawal from Afghanistan poses to our homeland.

Terrorists can hide in the masses creating the ongoing crisis at our southern border. Earlier this year, two Yemini men who were on the FBI’s terrorist watch list were detained at the southern border, and eleven Iranians were caught illegally entering our country. The radical extremists who planned and executed terrorist attacks on our own soil nearly 20 years ago also slipped into the country. Failed border security combined with no forward-thinking or strategy around a potential terrorist resurgence in Afghanistan could lead to devastating consequences for our country.

That’s why this new bill will require our military, Intel, and homeland security officials to analyze and explain to Congress what kind of illicit activities are being carried out at our southern border by terrorist groups and our adversaries around the globe. My bill will also require an assessment of the potential for Afghanistan to be used as a base of operation for international terrorism after the withdrawal of our military. It’s forward-thinking, and a step toward having some semblance of a plan.

I commanded troops overseas during Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a military leader, it was my responsibility to be on guard and always watchful against any threats to my troops and ultimately to our country. My fellow commanders realized the decisions we made there affected lives back here. It’s with this mindset and posture that the president and his administration must approach our drawdown in Afghanistan.

We cannot have a repeat of history. There needs to be a plan to ensure the safety and security of this country against any threats at home or abroad.

Joni Ernst represents the state of Iowa as the first female combat veteran elected to serve in the U.S. Senate. In 2003, Joni served as a company commander in Kuwait and Iraq, leading 150 Iowa Army National Guardsmen during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Joni retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard after 23 years of military service.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Joni Ernst: A gut punch to Iowans

A gut punch to Iowans. That’s the only way to describe the Biden Administration’s decision to roll back the previous administration’s Navigable Water Protection Rule. Sadly, for those of us who have been on the frontlines of this fight since 2015, this news is not a surprise.

Now let me be clear: everyone can agree that clean water should be a national priority. Iowans, and all Americans, want sensible safeguards that protect our environment and keep our nation’s water clean. But what they don’t want is a one-size-fits-all, Washington power grab that makes it harder for Iowans to farm, ranch, and build.

That’s why, in 2015, when the Obama-Biden Administration finalized its Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule—giving the federal government authority to regulate water on 97 percent of the land in Iowa—I immediately got to work to get it off the books. I fought to nullify the rule, but even after my bill passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support, it was vetoed by President Obama.

But I didn’t back down, and even before President Trump took office, I signaled my intent to work with him on a new, more flexible rule. And we did: the Trump Administration released a proposed rule to replace the Obama-era rule with one that provided much-needed predictability and certainty for farmers. Importantly, it established clear and reasonable definitions of what qualifies as a “water of the United States.” That rule, entitled the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, was finalized in January 2020.

As they say, however, elections have consequences. Anticipating a return to the Obama-Biden era of burdensome regulations, at the beginning of this year I urged the Senate to stand with workers, farmers, manufacturers, and businesses by upholding the previous administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

Despite having the support of 25 of my colleagues and stakeholders across the country, the Biden Administration ignored these concerns, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced their plans to undo all of our progress.

The reality is the fight for Iowa’s agriculture community is never over, and right now I’m working to push back on any harmful regulation this new administration might impose on these hardworking folks.

Together with Senator Chuck Grassley, I’m pressing the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, to make known to the president and his colleagues at the EPA and the Corps the serious concerns Iowa’s farmers and ranchers have with their recent actions on WOTUS. I’m also working to strengthen the voices Iowa’s small businesses in the federal rulemaking process. Too often, Washington bureaucrats put forward rules and regulations without considering their impact on small businesses—and the Obama-Biden WOTUS rule is a perfect example. That’s why I’ve put forward the Prove It Act which allows our small businesses to send federal agencies back to the drawing board to “prove” what they’re proposing won’t hurt small businesses. Specifically, the bill gives the Small Business Administration the ability to question an agency’s analysis if it claims a rule or regulation won’t impact small businesses.

When it comes to WOTUS, instead of continuing to confuse Iowa’s hardworking families, farmers, and businesses by changing its definition with each new administration, we need to make a reasonable, workable definition permanent. To do so, I helped introduce the Define WOTUS ActThis commonsense effort is more important now than ever.

There’s simply no reason to return to the Obama-era ways of giving an unchecked federal agency and unelected Washington bureaucrats more authority to control what’s done on private land. I will always fight tooth and nail for Iowa’s agriculture community, our working families, and our small businesses—and I’ll continue to push back against any attempts to impose complex, burdensome, and overreaching regulations on folks in our state.

Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.

 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Ernst on Democrats’ Election Bill: “This is not about democracy. It’s about changing the rules and tipping the scales to favor Washington Democrats.”

Untitled-12

Senator Ernst’s full remarks are below:

“In each new Congress, the bill number ‘S. 1’ is assigned to the Majority’s priority legislation.

It says a lot about the new Democrat majority that the bill they chose to design as S. 1 prioritizes…themselves.

 “This bill creates a federal campaign fund to finance the expenses of candidates for Congress.

 “Instead of addressing the important issues that are on the minds of my fellow Iowans—like the rising cost of gasoline, bread, milk, and all sorts of household goods—this bill literally takes money out of the paychecks of working Americans and puts it into the campaign coffers, yes, of Washington politicians.

 “Rather than helping get Americans back to work, the Democrats’ top priority is to create a federal jobs program for political consultants and pollsters.

 “Taxpayer-subsidized robocalls interrupting your family dinner, junk mail cluttering your mailbox, and attack ads blaring, yes, on your TV.

 “And folks, you can’t, cannot, unsubscribe either, because there is no opting out.

 “Think about the politician you dislike the most…now imagine your tax dollars funding their ads and fliers and campaign parties and rallies…that’s what this bill does.

 “That’s right, the bill subsidizes politicians’ campaigns…your tax dollars helping to elect politicians who oppose your values.

 “This idea is so unpopular, a New York poll found that the Majority Leader’s own constituents oppose public funding of campaigns by a 3-to-1 margin.

 “While the Democrats call the bill, the ‘For the People Act,’ a more apt title would be ‘Fund the Politicians Act.’

 “It is about Washington politicians—the same ones who just brought back earmarks to pay for their pet pork projects with your tax dollars—prioritizing themselves.

 “The bill not only subsidizes the campaigns of politicians, it also nationalizes elections.

 “Washington would tell the rest of the country how you can select your representatives.

 “It does so by creating a federal work-around of state voter ID laws by effectively eliminating the enforcement of state ID requirements at the polls.

 “Think about what you’re required to show an ID to do…drive a car, board a plane, buy a beer, and the list goes on.

 “But Democrats think it’s best if we don’t require an ID to vote.

 “The majority of Americans disagree with Washington Democrats. 77 percent of voters support voter ID.

 “And a little known fact: this includes support by 63 percent of Democrats and a vast majority of Black and Hispanic voters.

 “It’s all part of the Democrats’ larger scheme and total power grab to tilt our political system in their favor: first, eliminate the filibuster, then, rig elections by eliminating election integrity laws—like voter ID verification—then add new states, like the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, that will elect Democrat senators, and don’t forget the plan to pack the Court.

 “There are just 50 Democratic senators, but 60 votes are required to end debate on legislation in the Senate. 

 “Therefore, the Democrats must eliminate the filibuster in order to pass S. 1.—their priority legislation.

 “That’s right, changing the rules in order to fundamentally change the country.

 “And I would remind folks: my friends across the aisle are seeking to abolish the very same tool – the filibuster – they used 327 times last year alone when they were in the minority.

 “If they choose to change the rules, they would destroy this chamber’s long, proud history as being the world’s greatest deliberative body.

 “The Senate’s current Assistant Majority Leader made it clear, very clear, in 2018 in no uncertain terms that ending the filibuster ‘would be the end of the Senate as it was originally devised and created going back to our Founding Fathers.’

 “Because the take-over of elections is just as radical and largely unconstitutional, the Democrats’ court-packing scheme is another key component of enshrining S. 1.

 “Folks, we can all see this for what it is, a transparent play for permanent political power.

 “This is not about democracy. It’s about changing the rules and tipping the scales to favor Washington Democrats.

 “As a former local elections commissioner, I believe elections are always best kept at the state and local level, and I will continue to push back on my colleagues’ attempts to federalize our elections.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

As Biden Threatens New Water Regs, Ernst Leads Effort to Stand Up for Farmers, Small Businesses

The bill aims to improve transparency and strengthen the voices of Iowa’s small businesses in the federal rulemaking process

As the Biden Administration seeks to roll back the previous administration’s Navigable Waters Protection rule that provided more certainty for Iowa’s farmers and small business owners, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, is introducing legislation that aims to improve transparency and strengthen the voices of Iowa’s small businesses in the federal rulemaking process.

Specifically, the Prove It Act gives the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy—the small business watchdog for rules and regulations—the ability to question an agency’s analysis if it claims a rule or regulation won’t impact small businesses.

“Too often, Washington bureaucrats put forward rules and regulations without considering their impact on small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy. A perfect example is the Obama-Biden WOTUS rule, which would have given the federal government authority to regulate water on 97 percent of land in Iowa and burden our farmers, landowners, and businesses. This bill will give Iowa’s small business community the opportunity to send federal agencies back to the drawing board to ‘prove’ that what they’re proposing won’t hurt small businesses,” said Senator Ernst.

Background:

SBA’s Office of Advocacy found that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers improperly certified the Obama-Biden era WOTUS rule, and, despite EPA claiming otherwise, the rule would have indeed had a costly and direct impact on small businesses. Provisions in the Prove It Act would have allowed for a review or reconsideration of the certification that the rule wouldn’t have a significant impact on small businesses.

Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, federal agencies are required to certify whether a rule has a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses. If the rule does, agencies are then required to perform a substantive regulatory analysis. Agencies also have the discretion to certify that the rule would not impact small businesses significantly and can then bypass further analysis requirements.

The Prove It Act gives the Office of Advocacy an opportunity to submit a request to an agency to take a second look and reconsider its certification. If after 30 days of review the agency determines that its certification was incorrect, then the agency would be required to do further analyses on the rule. The request for review must be published in the Federal Register and on the Office of Advocacy’s website to ensure transparency.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Ernst Works to Rein In Federal Spending, Address Debt Crisis

As the national deficit approaches $30 trillion, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), known as the Senate’s leading foe of government waste, helped introduce a bill to rein in Washington’s out-of-control spending and provide a concrete path forward to tackle the nation’s debt crisis.

 “Despite being almost $30 trillion in debt, President Biden and congressional Democrats are continuing to propose trillions in additional spending of taxpayer dollars. If Iowans are expected to live within their means and balance their budgets, our federal government should too. This bill takes commonsense steps to hold Washington politicians accountable and to provide a pathway forward to tackle our nation’s debt crisis,” said Senator Ernst.

 The Federal Debt Emergency Control Act:

  • Requires the Office of Management and Budget to declare a “Federal Debt Emergency” in any fiscal year where the federal debt exceeds 100% of that year’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  •  This emergency designation would trigger several provisions to help control and reduce the federal debt to levels below 100% of GDP, including:

o    Terminating any unobligated funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, and any previous stimulus bills, and sending it back to the Treasury General Fund immediately for deficit reduction.

 

o   Requiring all legislation that increases the federal deficit, as determined by the Congressional Budget Office, to carry its own offsets. If it does not, the legislation shall be considered out of order and will require at least two-thirds of all Senators to vote to increase federal debt before even being able to consider the bill.

o   Fast-tracking any legislation that would reduce the federal deficit by at least 5 percent over ten years.

 “Congress needs to get serious about record debt and deficit levels, while also working to avoid back-breaking tax hikes on the middle class and small businesses. Senator Scott’s Federal Debt Emergency Control Act would give Congress the tools it needs to meaningfully address the debt when it outgrows the size of the economy. NTU applauds Senator Scott for leading this fiscally responsible effort,” said Andrew Lautz, Director of Federal Policy, National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

 “After the budget deficit has exceeded $3.7 trillion and the national debt stands at more than $28 trillion, it is time to rebuild the nation’s fiscal security. The Federal Debt Emergency Control Act creates a commonsense plan to rein in the federal government’s excessive spending habits; makes payments toward reducing the national debt; and forces members of Congress to be on the record when they vote to increase the deficit. Passage of Senator Scott’s legislation will begin to put an end to reckless, wasteful, out-of-control government spending,” said Tom Schatz, President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste. 

 “Federal spending and the national debt have been completely out of control for years, yet the Biden administration wants to make this problem worse by enacting trillions of dollars in new spending. Lawmakers must get serious about curbing this problem and can do so by supporting Senator Rick Scott’s Federal Debt Emergency Act. This important legislation will implement much-needed legislative reforms that will force lawmakers to seriously address federal spending and deficits. Importantly, this legislation contains safeguards to protect against tax increases, ensuring that politicians do not force working families and businesses to pick up the tab for years of Washington mismanagement,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform.

 “Washington has gone on a spending spree, adding trillions of dollars to our national debt since last year. The Federal Debt Emergency Control Act makes important reforms to stop Congress from its habit of deficit spending on the taxpayer’s dime,” said Brent Gardner, Americans for Prosperity Chief Government Affairs Officer.

 “With a national debt surpassing 28 trillion dollars, our country’s fiscal health is in dire straits. Decades of reckless spending have created a true emergency laid at the feet of Americans now and for generations to come. More than ever, we need real conversations and workable solutions to address the national debt. Senator Scott’s Federal Debt Emergency Control Act is an important measure to force politicians who would rather look the other way to instead curb Congress’s spending addiction and preserve the financial health of our country,” said Adam Brandon, President of FreedomWorks.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Joni Ernst: President Biden’s Policies are Hurting Iowa’s Economy, Working Families

Even if you’re paying attention, it’s hard to keep track of all the numbers flying around Washington, D.C. right now. Despite our national debt approaching $30 trillion, President Biden and congressional Democrats are proposing trillions more in taxpayer spending. In fact, on the Friday before Memorial Day, the White House quietly released the president’s $6 trillion budget proposal that would, as the New York Times put it, “push federal spending to its highest sustained levels since World War II.” It’s important to remember that this comes just months after they fast-tracked a nearly $2 trillion “COVID relief” bill without any Republican support.

With the Biden Administration continuing full speed ahead with its egregious spending, it’s clear the president’s economic policies are failing the American people. We’ve seen the prices of gasoline, milk, lumber, and other goods that families in Iowa and across the country rely on daily continue to rise—with the annual inflation rate reaching its highest in nearly 13 years. The May jobs report failed to meet expectations for the second month in a row—with the number of unemployed Americans remaining well above pre-pandemic levels and enhanced federal perks continuing to discourage folks from going back to work. And let’s not forget the thousands of jobs President Biden destroyed in the first few days of his administration when he unilaterally canceled the Keystone XL pipeline with the stroke of a pen.

Sadly, President Biden’s massive, multi-trillion-dollar budget reflects a continuation of these failed policies. His budget would impose higher taxes on working Americans while making dangerous cuts to our national defense, all to pay for a massive expansion of the federal government and the enactment of radical progressive demands, like parts of the Green New Deal. In fact, the entire plan can be summed up as: higher taxes, higher spending, and higher debt.

Under the Biden budget, by 2028, Washington will collect more tax revenue as a portion of our economy than at nearly any point over the last 100 years. This tax collecting scheme even includes a retroactive tax increase—meaning Iowans may owe higher taxes on past earnings. Plus, the president would allow the tax cuts I helped pass for lower-income and middle-class Americans to expire in 2025, resulting in higher taxes for most Americans.

The administration’s “Build Back Better” plan includes proposed tax policy changes that could have devastating impacts on America’s family farms and ranches. The American Farm Bureau stated that the tax plan would mean “a significant tax increase on farmers and ranchers.” Punishing Iowa family farmers, who help feed and fuel the world, with tax hikes is exactly the opposite of what the Biden Administration should be doing right now and shows just how out of touch Democrats are with Rural America.

The bottom line is President Biden’s economic policies are hurting hardworking Iowans and Americans. We need to be working together in a bipartisan way to get our economy back on track like it was pre-pandemic. That doesn’t mean tax hikes on our families; that means getting folks back to work and reining in unnecessary spending. I’ll continue holding the Biden Administration’s feet to the fire to protect the pocketbooks of working families in Iowa and across the nation.

Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.

Monday, May 24, 2021

During June, Office of Senator Ernst to Hold Traveling Office Hours Across All 99 Counties in Iowa

Representatives from Senator Ernst’s office will be available in every county across Iowa to assist constituents with issues and casework

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) announced today her office will be holding traveling office hours in all 99 counties across Iowa at different times during the month of June to provide assistance with casework for constituents.

 *Please Note: Senator Ernst will not be at the traveling office hours*

 Representatives from Senator Ernst’s office will be available in every county throughout the state to assist Iowans with problems or questions about issues involving Social Security, veterans’ benefits, military affairs, passports, immigration issues, and other federal programs.

 “No matter the issue, if you are experiencing challenges with federal services such as those at the VA or Social Security office, my staff and I are here to assist,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “My staff members in offices across Iowa can help with all sorts of problems that can arise when it comes to federal agencies. So, throughout the month of June, we are offering traveling office hours in every county in Iowa to make sure we are available and accessible to folks who need assistance. Please be sure to stop by when my staff is in your area and always feel free to reach out if we can help.”

 Those who are seeking assistance with federal agencies but who are unable to attend the traveling office hours can contact one of the Senator’s offices directly or submit a casework request online at www.Ernst.Senate.Gov.

 A complete list of all upcoming dates and locations can be found below (in alphabetical order).

 *Please Note: Senator Ernst will not be at the traveling office hours*

 

Audubon County

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Audubon Public Library

401 North Park Place

Audubon, IA

 

Calhoun County

Thursday, June 17, 2021

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Pomeroy City Hall

Community Building

109 S Ontario St

Pomeroy, IA

 

Carroll County

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Carroll Chamber of Commerce

407 W 5th St

Carroll, IA

 

Crawford County

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Schleswig City Hall

111 2nd Street

Schleswig, IA

 

Greene County

Thursday, June 17, 2021

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Greene County Courthouse

Board of Supervisors Office

114 N Chestnut Street

Jefferson, IA

 

Guthrie County

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Guthrie County Courthouse

Public Meeting Room

200 North 5th Street

Guthrie Center, IA

 

Harrison County

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Missouri Valley Public Library

420 East Huron Street

Missouri Valley, IA

 

Ida County

Friday, June 25, 2021

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Galva City Hall

116 South Main St

Galva, IA

 

Monona County

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Onawa Public Library

Small Meeting Room

707 Iowa Avenue

Onawa, IA

 

Sac County

Thursday, June 24, 2021

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Lake View City Hall

Council Chambers

305 Main St

Lake View, IA

 

Shelby County

Thursday, June 15, 2021

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Harlan Chamber of Commerce

1901 Hawkeye Avenue

Harlan, IA

Friday, May 14, 2021

Joni Ernst: Help Wanted: Federal Policies That Incentivize Work, Support Small Business

There’s no doubt about it: it’s been a long year. Just ask any small business, restaurant, or other employer across our state. Fortunately, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Because of Operation Warp Speed, we now have vaccines; and COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are trending down. In Iowa, folks are ready to return to “normal life,” and for our businesses, that means operating at full capacity.

For Iowa’s employers, fully reopening means a complete workforce and making up for lost revenue—and it’s critical that they are able to do so as soon as possible.

As I’ve met with folks across the state, they’ve consistently shared the challenges they’re experiencing in finding the workers needed to get back up and running. That’s what happens when the government pays people more money to stay at home than to go to work. Look no further than the disappointing jobs report released last Friday. We were anticipating close to one million new jobs, and we only gained around 266,000.

I’ve heard from restaurant owners in Bellevue who need about 36 employees between their two locations, and can only find 20. They’ve been forced to suspend plans to expand, costing additional jobs and stifling economic development. And they’re not alone: the owner of a small business in Cedar Rapids that offers good-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree was turned down by three separate people because they chose to stay on unemployment instead. I’ve also heard from folks who run in-home care services in West Des Moines and Cedar Rapids about their difficulties hiring providers for their professional care teams. Again, this is all due in large part to the federal government’s excessive unemployment perks.

If we’re going to begin erasing the damages caused by the last year of the pandemic and get our economy moving again, we cannot continue to let Democrats disincentivize work. Thankfully in Iowa, our great Governor Kim Reynolds has already taken steps to curb the excessive federal unemployment that has kept Iowans on the sidelines and created these challenges for our employers.

Now, we need to do more nationwide. As a senior member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I’m helping to lead a bicameral effort to end the enhanced perks at the federal level. The Get Americans Back to Work Act, which I helped put forward this week decreases the extra federal unemployment benefits to $150 per week at the end of this month, and then fully repeals them at the end of June.

As I saw last week on my 99 County Tour, and as I’ve heard from a number of my colleagues, “Help Wanted” signs are plastered on front doors and window panes all across our main streets. We’re on the verge of beating this pandemic, but we can’t have the federal government get in the way of our recovery. Congress, the Biden Administration, and state leaders across the country should be focused on doing all they can to help get folks back to work and get our businesses up and running once again.

Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Following Revealing Report, Ernst, Pappas, Hassan, and Hinson Take Action to Crack Down on Sexual Harassment at VA

The lawmakers’ bipartisan, bicameral legislation would implement numerous policy changes within the VA to prevent and address sexual harassment

Following the release of a government watchdog report exposing alarming instances of sexual harassment by employees and management failures at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Representatives Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) are introducing bipartisan and bicameral legislation to drastically improve policies and oversight and to crack down on harassment at the department.

 The lawmakers’ new legislation, the Improving VA Accountability to Prevent Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Act of 2021, would implement numerous policy changes within the VA based on recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. The report—requested by Senator Ernst, herself a combat veteran and survivor of sexual assault—revealed that the VA does not require reporting of all sexual harassment complaints, has an improper leadership structure for overseeing their sexual harassment process, and has incomplete and outdated policies, information, and training.

“Sexual harassment must be addressed and rooted out no matter where it exists, but under no circumstance can it be permitted under the roof of our nation’s VA—a place so many of our veterans trust and rely on,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “As a sexual assault survivor and a combat veteran myself, I’m disturbed by the failures that have gone on at the VA for far too long. It’s past time we take action with this bipartisan and bicameral bill to expand oversight, improve policies, and ensure sexual harassment is prevented and dealt with properly and immediately.”

“It’s unacceptable that someone who has proudly served our nation is subjected to sexual harassment in the institution whose charge it is to serve them,” said Congressman Pappas. “I am proud to help introduce this legislation that takes critical steps to combat sexual harassment by updating the VA’s antiquated policies and structure in addition to creating stronger reporting requirements. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure all of our veterans can be confident about accessing VA care in a safe, respectful setting.”

“The VA should be a place where veterans can go to feel supported and cared for, yet there is clear evidence of significant sexual harassment at the VA,” Senator Hassan said. “In order for veterans and staff to feel safe at the VA, we must take an aggressive approach to combat this harassment and ensure that survivors are being heard. I am glad to work with my colleagues across the aisle on this important bill that will take steps to hold perpetrators accountable.”

“The widespread failures at the Department of Veterans Affairs to address sexual harassment properly are inexcusable,” said Congresswoman Hinson. “Our bipartisan bill will help fix the systemic issues with how the VA handles sexual harassment and put policies in place to prevent it in the future. I thank Senator Joni Ernst for her continued leadership on this critical issue, which will no doubt help many veterans who have faced sexual harassment or discrimination, and I am proud to introduce this legislation alongside her.”

Friday, April 9, 2021

Joni Ernst: Democrats’ Violence Against Women Act pressures women to negotiate with abusers

Women have fought too long to not be held responsible for the actions of their abusers; I cannot support legislation that would return us to the past.

Thirty years ago, before the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) became law, domestic violence was viewed as a behind-closed-doors, private matter between husband and wife. Victims were often told to just deal with it — weathering the emotional and physical impacts of abuse alone — sometimes even being blamed for causing the strife. Resources and services were scarce, and women had nowhere to turn.

Since its inception, VAWA has strengthened local, state, tribal, and federal responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Because of this important legislation, women now have places to turn for support.

Fortunately, Congress has continued to fund the VAWA programs year after year despite their “unauthorized” status because of folks like myself and others who recognize the need to ensure survivors are supported. But the fight over getting the bill reauthorized and modernized has become all too polarizing. My Democratic colleagues continue to read from the same script, year after year, attempting to hijack a bill for their own agenda on everything from gun control to sexual orientation. And admittedly some of my Republican colleagues have their own routine concerns with VAWA.

Negotiation is not an option

In March, the House of Representatives passed the mostly partisan Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2021. That bill has been sold by Democrats as a simple reauthorization of VAWA, but it is far from that. Just read the section of the bill on “Restorative Practice.” This practice shockingly funds programs that allow an abuser to negotiate with their victim in the name of “collectively seeking accountability from the accused.” While there might be decent intention behind this, it puts the responsibility of stopping abuse on the survivor.

Instead of going to jail, a wife-beater could sit across the table from their victim and discuss a settlement. Yes, you read that right; abuser and survivor in the same room, forced to negotiate. The bill states restorative practice would be “on a voluntary basis,” but given the way a victim has suffered, it won’t feel voluntary. Nothing about these crimes is voluntary.

While this approach might work for middle school conflicts or neighborly disputes about flowerbeds, it’s coercive, re-traumatizing, and could even be deadly when applied to survivors of domestic violence. Democrats want this radical approach to apply not just to survivors of domestic violence, but also sexual assault. This framework holds a victim responsible as an essentially equal partner in preventing future violence. This reminds me of how women were treated decades ago when they were asked what they did to deserve it and this kind of social experimentation has no place in VAWA.

A web of abuse

As a survivor of both domestic violence and sexual assault, I’m appalled at the lack of understanding regarding the complexities of the relationships between survivor and abuser, especially a long-term abuser. Untangling a web of abuse is a daunting task. The coercion and community pressure can be overwhelming. Under the Democrats’ bill, the victim would be responsible for publicly stating to her community whether her abuser should face consequences or not.

I am committed to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. It’s why I introduced a modernized version last Congress and intend to do so again — one that holds predators accountable and supports survivors in all communities, rural and urban. I stand ready to negotiate with my friends across the aisle. But the reality of a 50-50 Senate is that Democrats need to be willing to find consensus.

I will work with anyone on a bipartisan bill that increases funding for needed programs and makes appropriate, and necessary, updates to the law. But ideas like restorative practice have no place in a bill called the Violence Against Women Act. Women have fought too long to not be held responsible for the actions of their abusers. I cannot support legislation that would return us to the past.

Joni Ernst, a Republican, is a combat veteran and the junior U.S. senator from Iowa.

As published in USA Today.

Monday, March 29, 2021

After Democrats Tucked a Provision Banning State Tax Cuts Into Their “COVID Relief” Bill, Ernst Backs Effort to Reverse It

The Iowa senator is backing legislation to eliminate a provision in the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion bill that punishes states wishing to provide tax relief to its citizens

After Democrats tucked a little-known provision into their $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” bill that would ban states, like Iowa, from cutting state taxes, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is backing legislation to reverse the provision.
“The Democrats’ partisan, nearly $2 trillion ‘COVID relief’ package rewards states that have mismanaged their budgets while punishing those who have acted responsibly during this pandemic. It’s no surprise that this rushed bill also prevents states—like Iowa—from cutting taxes for its hardworking taxpayers. We shouldn’t punish states, and our working families, for prioritizing fiscal responsibility, and this commonsense legislation will repeal this ill-conceived provision that infringes on states’ rights,” said Senator Ernst.
“Iowa’s fiscal health is strong and we are cutting taxes so that Iowans can keep more of their hard-earned money, but unfortunately our approach is in jeopardy because of what’s happening in Washington, D.C.,” said Governor Kim Reynolds. “Biden’s stimulus plan is full of reckless spending with strings attached aimed at bailing out mismanaged states and cities. I appreciate Senator Ernst taking the lead on the State Fiscal Flexibility Act to help prevent the federal government from slowing down Iowa’s economic recovery.”
Background:
The Democrats’ partisan, $1.9 trillion “COVID relief package” they passed earlier this month included a $350 billion bailout for states, rewarding those with poor fiscal management and punishing those who operated responsibly during the pandemic. However, they added a little-known provision that also punishes states for providing tax relief.
Ernst is cosponsoring the State Fiscal Flexibility Act, which would eliminate this provision, giving power back to the states to determine what fiscal policies will best serve their citizens.
Ernst is also supporting a similar measure, the Let States Cut Taxes Act.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Ernst: Stop the Dangerous Surge at the Border

The Iowa senator is backing legislation to close loopholes that encourage vulnerable immigration populations to take dangerous, illegal paths of entry into the U.S.

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is helping introduce the Stopping Border Surges Act, a bill to address loopholes in our immigration system which encourage vulnerable immigrant populations to take dangerous, illegal paths of entry into the United States.

“The current surge of migrants at our border, due in large part to the immediate and illogical reversal of the previous administration’s policies, underscores the need for Congress to work together to address this humanitarian and national security crisis. Right now, loopholes in our immigration system are encouraging unaccompanied children and families to make the perilous journey—at the hands of ruthless smugglers—to enter the U.S. through our now-open southern border. This bill will close a number of these loopholes and help stop this dangerous surge,” said Senator Joni Ernst.
Background:
The Stopping Border Surges Act, led by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), includes reforms that would help stem the surges of illegal immigrants that our country can neither support nor sustain; strengthen our asylum process; eliminate the incentive to send children on the perilous, solo journey to the border; and dampen the exploitative power of the coyotes and cartels.
Last week, Senator Ernst joined her colleagues in highlighting President Joe Biden’s unlawful suspension of border wall funding and construction.
Senator Ernst also published an op-ed outlining the border crisis as both a humanitarian one and a threat to U.S. national security and urged President Biden and his administration to acknowledge the border crisis.
As the lead Republican on the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, Ernst highlighted the importance of defending the border against the threat of Transnational Criminal Organizations and other nefarious influencers—including Iran, Russia, and China—and called on her colleagues to work together to secure the border.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Two Ernst-Backed Transparency Bills Advance With Unanimous, Bipartisan Support

The bills will help prevent duplicative and wasteful federal programs and allow for more information about government spending to be accessible to the public

With Sunshine Week coming to a close, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) had two transparency and government accountability bills she’s backing advance in the Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support. One bill will help prevent duplicative and wasteful federal programs while the other will allow for more information about government spending to be accessible to the public.

“In Washington, there’s no shortage of waste and duplicative government programs—always at the expense of the American taxpayer. We certainly need to cut the fat and get rid of unneeded federal programs, but, at the very least, hardworking taxpayers have a right to know where and how their money is being spent. These two bills will go a long way in cutting down on waste and shining light on the tax dollars being spent, and I’m pleased Democrats and Republicans agreed to move them forward,” said Senator Joni Ernst.

Ernst is an original cosponsor of the Duplication Reduction and Scoring Act and the Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act, which both passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this week.

The Duplication Reduction and Scoring Act

The bill directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review each piece of legislation reported out of a committee to determine if it poses a risk of producing more duplication in areas of government where the GAO has already identified such problems in one of its duplication reports.

The Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act

This bill would put in place a requirement that agencies’ budget justifications are publicly available on a centralized website, as well as on each agency’s own website.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Ernst: Biden Fueling the Border Crisis by Unlawfully Suspending Border Wall Funding, Construction

Amid the rapidly escalating crisis along the southern border, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) joined her colleagues in highlighting President Joe Biden’s suspension of border wall funding and construction without lawful justification, as required by the Impoundment Control Act.

In a letter to GAO Comptroller General Gene L. Dorado, Ernst and her colleagues write, “On January 20th, in one of the first official acts of his presidency, Joseph Biden suspended border wall construction and ordered a freeze of funds provided by Congress for that purpose. In the weeks that followed, operational control of our southern border was compromised and a humanitarian and national security crisis has ensued.”

 They go on to write: “The President’s actions directly contributed to this unfortunate, yet entirely avoidable, scenario. They are also a blatant violation of federal law and infringe on Congress’s constitutional power of the purse…We believe they violated the Impoundment Control Act (ICA), as interpreted by your office, and we request your legal opinion on the matter. Prompt action to end these violations is required to restore order at the border.”

To read the full letter, click here.

Background:

Last week, Senator Ernst published an op-ed outlining the border crisis as both a humanitarian one and threat to U.S. national security and urged President Biden and his administration to acknowledge the border crisis.

As the lead Republican on the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, Ernst highlighted the importance of defending the border against the threat of Transnational Criminal Organizations and other nefarious influencers—including Iran, Russia, and China—and called on her colleagues to work together to secure the border.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Ernst Statement on Regan Confirmation Vote

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, voted in opposition to Michael Regan to be the next Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Following the vote, Ernst issued this statement:

“While I appreciate Mr. Regan’s experience working on environmental issues and his commitment to taking into consideration the opinions of our farmers when it comes to implementing the Biden agenda, I still have serious concerns about the path this administration will take on issues like renewable fuel and agency rulemaking. President Biden has already taken steps to roll back the Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule and transition the federal fleet to electric vehicles. This, coupled with the unsuccessful record of the Obama-Biden Administration on securing E15 year-round and their harmful WOTUS rule leave me concerned about how Mr. Regan will handle important issues to Iowans. Regardless of who is leading the EPA, I will continue to be a champion for my home state’s biofuel industry, farmers, manufacturers, and businesses and stand up against radical policies like the Green New Deal,” Ernst said.

Last week, Ernst questioned Mr. Regan at a Senate EPW Committee hearing on his commitment to defending the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and his view on the Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule that replaced the unpopular Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Ernst: U.S. “must maintain sanctions on the Iranian regime…”

The Iowa senator joins 29 colleagues on a resolution opposing lifting sanctions against Iran

As Iran continues moving ahead in advancing its nuclear program and beginning to produce uranium metal, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, is joining 29 of her Senate colleagues in calling for the U.S. to oppose lifting sanctions against the country.

“The United States must maintain sanctions on the Iranian regime until it abandons its nuclear ambitions and completely ends its support for violence and funding terrorism around the region. Iran took advantage of weak policies during the Obama Administration, and President Biden must not repeat those same mistakes,” said Senator Joni Ernst.

Ernst today announced her support for a Senate resolution calling for the U.S. to maintain sanctions against Iran.

Background:

Ernst has been outspoken in calling on the Biden Administration to make a top priority of keeping our nation and the world safe from the threat of Iran, penning an op-ed in the Washington Examiner. Last week, Ernst called on the Biden Administration to work with our allies and partners to impose a new arms embargo on Iran.

She also helped introduce a resolution expressing opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and urging President Biden to work with Congress and refuse to re-join the deal without significant reform. She also joined Senator Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) on a bill that would enable Congress to approve—or block—any effort by the administration to suspend or terminate U.S. sanctions against the Iranian regime.

Following the recent U.S. strike in Syria, Ernst said that Iran’s aggression must be countered with a strong, decisive response and that the United States cannot afford to pivot to a weak policy against Iran, like another failed nuclear deal.

 

Monday, March 8, 2021

Ernst: The Democrats’ “COVID Relief” Bill is Partisan, Pricey, and Full of Pet Projects

It’s no secret that the worst global pandemic in a generation has brought unforeseen challenges and hardships. But it’s often during these challenging times when the American people band together, and we’ve seen it: folks across Iowa have risen to the occasion to help out their friends, family members, neighbors, and communities. We’ve also seen it in our government. Even in increasingly partisan times, state legislatures—and even Congress—have worked across party lines to provide relief to those who need it.

I’ve been proud to work with Democrats and Republicans to pass five overwhelmingly bipartisan packages to support Iowans and all Americans. And last week, I was ready to do it again.

Unfortunately, my friends across the aisle had a different idea.

Ignoring President Biden’s call for unity, Democrats—led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer—shut out me and my Republican colleagues and instead focused on fast-tracking their highly partisan, nearly $2 trillion “COVID relief bill” through Congress. Despite what they’re calling the legislation, this package is full of spending that has absolutely nothing to do with addressing the immediate needs of COVID-19.

Hardworking Iowa taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for Speaker Pelosi’s and Senator Schumer’s wish list of long-time liberal priorities. That’s why I worked to shed light on the extraneous provisions in the bill—and we had some success. After bringing attention to the $1.5 million of taxpayer dollars set aside for building a bridge from the state of New York to Canada, this partisan pet project was struck from the bill. We also exposed—and stopped—a cleverly-worded provision that earmarked $140 million for a subway in California’s Silicon Valley. What do these projects have to do with COVID? The answer is nothing.

Sadly, there is plenty of additional pork in this bill. There’s still a whopping $350 billion bailout of “blue” states that the Democrats crafted to reward states with mismanaged budgets and bad past behavior. The biggest winners include New York and California.

What else is in this mammoth package? A loophole that allows millionaires, yes millionaires, to take advantage of a program intended to help make quality child care affordable for working parents who are struggling to make ends meet. And then there are millions for so-called “environmental justice grants.” Instead, this money could be better used on things like broadband for schools that have needed additional help with connectivity during COVID-19. Unfortunately, with just nine percent of this bill actually going to COVID health spending, these are just a few examples—the liberal wish list is long.

I fully understand that there are still needs that must be addressed across the country. But instead of bridges and bailouts and money to millionaires, this package should be focused on immediate help to get folks back to work, kids in school, and vaccines in Iowans’ and all Americans’ arms.

The money Democrats want to spend isn’t monopoly money. It’s going to be paid out of the pockets of essential workers and others who are continuing to work, pay taxes, and keep America running. And of course, by my daughter and the generations to come.

As I’ve said, COVID relief should focus on COVID relief. Period. Instead, Democrats turned their back on bipartisanship for their own political interests and party priorities and shoved through their nearly $2 trillion bill without any Republican support.

Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Ernst: “With a one-party monopoly of Washington, Democrats are back to their old spending games.”

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) spoke on the Senate floor today calling out congressional Democrats for fast-tracking their highly partisan $1.9 trillion “COVID relief bill” through Congress, instead of working in a bipartisan way like Congress has done five previous times. Ernst shed light on the wish list of long-time liberal budget-busting priorities—that have nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic—included in the bill, and reiterated that relief should be focused on getting folks back to work and kids back in school.

Click here to watch Senator Ernst’s remarks.

Senator Ernst’s full remarks are below:

“With a one-party monopoly of Washington, D.C. Democrats are back to their old spending games.

“Most of the 1.9 trillion dollars within the Democrats’ ‘COVID’ package has absolutely nothing to do with COVID.

“Unlike the previous five pandemic relief bills that were approved with overwhelming bipartisan support, Democrats have shown no interest in working with Republicans and are instead fast-tracking this highly partisan bill through Congress.

“The bulk of this budget-busting bill is devoted to fulfilling a wish list of long-time liberal priorities, including—billion-dollar bailouts, progressive program expansions, and pricey partisan pet projects.

“Let’s talk about a few of those. Look at this right here: a New York bridge to Canada. That’s $1.5 million for a bridge connecting the state of New York to another country: Canada.

“Or what about this one? The cleverly-worded provision that earmarks – yes, I said it, folks – earmarking is already happening – $140 million to a subway in Silicon Valley in California. What does that have to do with COVID?

“And a whopping $350 billion blue state bailout that rewards the states that have imposed the strictest lockdowns.

“Folks, we should be rewarding the states that demonstrated leadership by finding ways to safely stay open, not those that shut down schools, closed businesses, and killed jobs.

“But most importantly, COVID relief should stay focused on COVID.

“There is still about $1 trillion of COVID funding that Congress previously approved that hasn’t even been spent yet. Yes folks, $1 trillion.

“So why are we looking at spending yet another $2 trillion, of course, on things that are not even related to COVID?

“That isn’t to say there aren’t still needs across the country, because there are. We know that. All across our country.

“But instead of bridges and bailouts, the money should be focused on immediate help to get our moms and dads back to work. To do that, we need to do a few things: One, lets safely reopen our schools; Number two, expand access to quality, affordable child care; and number three, distribute the vaccine as quickly as possible.

“While the bill does provide assistance for these purposes, even here the Democrats show how out of touch they are with what’s actually happening on the ground.

“For example, nearly $15 billion is included for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

“At a time when so many moms are being forced to choose between their careers and children as a result of school closures, the support is very much needed.

“But, a loophole in the bill allows millionaires to use up this program which was created to help make quality child care affordable for working parents struggling to make ends meet.

“While the additional funding will certainly help many, expanding eligibility to millionaires who have the financial means to afford their own ‘nannies’ will not.

“While the bill also extends the enhanced unemployment benefit and provides an extra $400 per week for those who are out of work because of the pandemic, there again, another loophole, there is no income limit placed on the eligibility.

“That means someone who may be out of work but is still earning a million dollars or more qualifies for these bonus payments.

“You might laugh and ask, ‘How many people would apply for unemployment assistance if they were making a million dollars?’

“The answer is thousands.

“During the Great Recession just a decade ago, more than 3,000 individuals with adjusted gross incomes of $1 million collected unemployment benefits.

“Because this bill doesn’t cap who may receive support, jobless millionaires may end up collecting as much as $1 million in enhanced unemployment assistance every week.

“This is like a reverse millionaires’ tax.

“The Democrats are paying millionaires to not work, with taxes paid by lower-income workers. How do you like that socialist scheme?

“So if you are a coastal elite, living in California or New York and maybe making a million bucks despite being out of work, this bill is especially generous for you.

“But folks: this isn’t Monopoly money! This is the real deal, and someone has to eventually pick up the tab.

“Sadly, it is going to be paid out of the pockets of essential workers and others who are continuing to work, those that pay taxes and keep America running.

“Now, as an eternal optimist, I am hopeful that when this bill comes before the Senate, my Democrat colleagues will actually work with us to cut the pork and refocus the bill on what it should be focused on: the immediate needs of the COVID pandemic.

“Not a fancy subway. Not a bridge to Canada, and certainly, not wealthy state bailouts. Focus on the immediate needs of the COVID pandemic.

“And if not, I’m afraid the Democrats will just “keep passing go” and collecting hundreds of dollars from hardworking taxpayers across this country, only to pay for their pricey partisan pet projects and wish list items that have nothing to do with COVID-19.”

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

With Iowa’s Redistricting Deadline Looming, Ernst Urges Census Bureau to Quickly Get Data to the State, After COVID-Related Delays

Iowa’s state constitution requires a new legislative districting map be signed into law by September 2021

As Iowa’s deadline for submitting its new legislative redistricting map approaches later this year, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is urging the U.S. Census Bureau to expedite getting its 2020 data to the state after delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iowa’s state constitution requires state lawmakers to submit and sign into law a new legislative redistricting map by September 15, 2021. If the new map is not finalized by then, the Iowa Supreme Court is required to draw it, bypassing the bipartisan commission that would otherwise provide the general assembly with draft maps and taking the redistricting process out of the hands of the state legislature.

Today, Ernst sent a letter to the U.S. Census Bureau describing the urgent need to get the 2020 census data to Iowa “as soon as possible.”

Click here to see Ernst’s full letter to U.S. Census Bureau Acting Director Ron Jarmin.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Ernst: Taxpayers Win in the ‘War on Waste’ in Annual Defense Bill

The Iowa senator secured a number of key measures that hold the Pentagon accountable, increase transparency, and help rid the department of duplication

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), known as the Senate’s leading foe of wasteful government spending, won important victories in her ‘War on Waste’ in the Fiscal Year ‘21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that could potentially save taxpayers billions of dollars.

 “I’m glad to report that Iowa taxpayers, and folks across the country, won a battle in the ‘War on Waste’ in this year’s defense bill. Through my efforts, we’ve made spending more transparent, curbed needless duplication, and we’re holding accountable, not rewarding, bad behavior and questionable actions by the Pentagon,” said Senator Ernst. 

 “Taxpayers have a right to know how much money the Defense Department wastes on boondoggles like hooking animals on cocaine and putting pigs on treadmills. We applaud combat veteran Senator Joni Ernst for championing this important transparency measure to require price tags on often-wasteful Pentagon spending so taxpayers can hold government accountable. Now, the Senate must pass Senator Ernst’s common sense COST Act—which is supported by a supermajority of Americans—to ensure all federal agencies and their grantees publicly disclose how they spend taxpayers’ hard-earned money,” said Anthony Bellotti, president and founder of taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste Project.

 “Senator Ernst’s transparency provision is a welcome reform that gives taxpayers the information they need to help keep government accountable and limited to purpose. Too often, federal spending, including funding that goes through the Department of Defense, does little to enhance our national and economic security. Setting priorities is especially critical now as our nation struggles to recover from the effects of COVID-19. We need a more efficient and transparent government to help us grow at home and compete abroad. This is an important and timely victory for America’s taxpayers, families, farmers and small businesses,” said Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder of OpentheBooks.com.

 Transparency:

Through Ernst’s COST Act—which was included in this year’s NDAA– grant recipients who get money from the Pentagon will now be required to include a price tag disclosing the cost to taxpayers for their military research. Ernst has highlighted a number of questionable projects supported by DOD funding, including Navy research analyzing puppy personalities to determine why canines are so doggone friendly and an Air Force report on how to develop psychic teleportation to use mind powers to travel through parallel universes and to alien planets.

 Senator Ernst also won on an amendment to get the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the most expensive cost overruns in weapon systems and forces to Pentagon to disclose to Congress their top 10 most expensive weapons to fix and maintain.

 Duplication:

Under Senator Ernst’s leadership as the chairman of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee, the FY21 NDAA cut $300 million in research and development programs that were wasteful, duplicative, or not a priority. This funding was redirected towards urgent research needs, such as getting a deployable vaccine for our troops and for funding Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) programs.

 Senator Ernst also successfully passed an amendment to require the most senior science and technology leaders to meet to discuss their research to ensure that it is coordinated and the Pentagon doesn’t continue to try to fund the same research more than once.

 Accountability:

Another Ernst win, the GAO – Congress’ watchdog for waste – will investigate if the billions of dollars in bonuses paid to defense contractors, for projects that are over budget or behind schedule, are warranted.

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