During the entire month of August, I’ve had the privilege to continue on my River to River Tour across our beautiful state.
Hearing directly from folks in all 99 counties is an Iowa tradition and the gold standard for representative government. If our country is to be of the people, by the people, and for the people, our elected leaders must actually hear from their constituents!
While Iowans are always welcome to call my office or send me an email, year after year, I’ve found that the best way to learn about the issues that matter most is through in-person, face-to-face discussions.
That’s why, since first serving in the U.S. Senate, I’ve remained committed to meeting with Iowans from all 99 counties, including holding frequent public town halls and speaking with members of the local press.
During this year’s tour, I placed a special emphasis on Iowa’s entrepreneurs and job creators because, after all, 99 percent of Iowa’s businesses are small businesses! I visited family-owned and locally-run businesses in Iowa’s main streets and small towns. Whether visiting a beauty shop owner, restauranteur, or ag supplier, at most stops, I heard about the challenges entrepreneurs are facing due to crushing inflation and a lack of affordable childcare options, particularly in our rural communities.
As Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I am working on solutions to both of these issues. I’m fighting to limit burdensome regulations on small businesses and expand access to Small Business Administration (SBA) loan opportunities, including for our religious non-profits, to bring more childcare slots to our communities.
From River to River, I often took the back roads to meet with farmers, ranchers, and producers to hear about their top concerns, including high input costs, mandates out of liberal California, and a workforce shortage. Iowans emphasized the importance of protecting our valuable land and delivering real results for our agricultural community in the upcoming Farm Bill. From walking beans and feeding hogs on my small family farm in southwest Iowa to serving as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I will always have our farmers’ backs.
In addition, as a combat veteran, another issue that hits close to home is ensuring that our country lives up to the promises made to our veterans. Along with offering help in dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at every town hall meeting, this year, I assisted veterans facing food insecurity and worked to ensure our vets receive quality services at the VA.
I’m grateful that two of my efforts, the Ensuring Quality Care for Our Veterans Act and Improving VA Accountability to Prevent Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Act, were signed into law earlier this year.
But it’s not just our vets who need better access to health care, it’s also our rural communities.
Growing up in Montgomery County, Iowa, I’m all too familiar with the challenges of accessing medical care, especially when you or a family member need to see a specialist.
That’s why I made it a priority to meet with health care administrators, disability caretakers, sober-living advocates, and more to hear their ideas to improve health care in our state and ensure no Iowan faces barriers in getting the medical care they need. As a result of these exchanges, I recently introduced the DOCTORS Act to bring additional U.S. trained doctors to shortage areas in our state each and every year.
At the end of the day, as a mom and a homegrown Iowan, the work I’m doing is for our families and communities. I was grateful to hear from folks at our schools, community food pantries, cultural institutions, and more.
Without a doubt, Iowans in every industry are frustrated with the Biden administration and the state of our nation. Stop after stop, I heard about the painful impact of Bidenomics and rising costs. As the Senate’s biggest foe of wasteful spending, I’ll continue to share these concerns and fight for a more responsible and accountable Washington.
Iowans know what is best for Iowa, and it’s my job to bring their voices loud and clear to the chambers of Congress. From the bottom of my heart, I thank every Iowan who made time to meet with me this year, and I cannot wait to see what’s in store for my 10th annual River to River tour!
Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.