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Ernst: Keep Iowa as first in the nation

Senator makes a stop Thursday in WC

— Submitted photo Sen. Joni Ernst toured the Van Diest Supply Company facilities Thursday morning and sat down with John Van Diest, left, and Jake Van Diest before the tour. The visit to Hamilton County was part of Ernst’s annual 99-county tour.

In spite of the efforts of politicians from other states, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa says her state should remain first in the nation with its early February caucuses.

Ernst made a stop Thursday at Van Diest Supply Company in Webster City and toured the facility with company officials as part of her annual 99-county tour.

“I think that Iowa should remain the first in the nation in terms of our caucus system,” said Ernst. “And Republicans have made this very clear from the top –Jeff Kauffman and Linda Upmeyer — and through the rest of our chain. Republicans are adamant about that.”

In recent months, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, both Democrats, have led an effort to push Nevada and South Carolina ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire.

“I think that would be very unfortunate. The Democrats love to talk about access and equity. You know what? If you want to give every candidate access and equity, Iowa is the place to do it. We have an inexpensive system,” she said.

“All candidates, regardless of party or if they have a wealthy campaign or a fledgling campaign, they can come here and meet the people,” she said. “This is a great starting point. It’s middle America.”

She said the diversity of industry, backgrounds and religious beliefs make Iowa a “great place to start a campaign.”

President Joe Biden on Wednesday introduced his $2 trillion American Jobs Plan which includes spending to rebuild roads and bridges, expand broadband and clean water projects. The measure also looks to develop a clean energy workforce, expand manufacturing and invest in care for the elderly.

Ernst said that though she has not read the text of the plan, the overview seems to show that only a fraction of the bill addresses infrastructure.

“Our roads, bridges, locks and dams — are things that we would want to invest in. So what is the rest of the money going towards? That’s the question,” she said.

“We’re mortgaging our children and grandchildren’s future,” she said. “We need to make sure that the money is going to truly infrastructure projects, things that will benefit the United States in the long run.”

Ernst also talked about the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan that sent an additional $1,400 to eligible Americans. Though no Senate Republicans voted in favor of the plan, Ernst said there were some areas of common ground for both Republicans and Democrats.

“The one thing we could all agree on was that we still have families and individuals who needed assistance, COVID recovery. That’s what we wanted to focus on — making sure that families, individuals, our schools and hospitals were getting the assistance they needed,” she said.

But the plan had many elements that were not COVID-related relief, according to Ernst.

“Only 9 percent of that nearly $2 trillion bill was devoted to COVID-19 relief,” she said. “I don’t know how appealing that $1,400 will be to people when they realize that over the course of the next several years, their taxes will be raised and they will be paying back that $1,400 plus interest.”

Ernst said she’s heard from some families who have told her they didn’t need the stimulus checks — people who have been employed throughout the pandemic. Rather than return the funds to the government, Ernst suggested donating the money

“If you don’t need that stimulus money, why not go ahead and give it to a local charity, like a food bank,” she said.

The senator also said she was “over the moon” at the news that Democrat Rita Hart had dropped her efforts to challenge Marianette Miller-Meeks win in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.

“This is an incredible victory for Marianette. She won. The ballots were counted and recounted. The ballots went to a bipartisan board of canvassers at the state level. They unanimously certified the election,” she said.

Hart, who lost the election by 6 votes, had challenged 22 ballots that she said were improperly rejected by election officials.

Ernst said after pressure from both Republicans and Democrats, Hart announced that she was dropping her challenge on Wednesday.

“It just reaffirms that Iowa has a good election system,” Ernst said.

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