Q: What’s in store for the second session of the 117th Congress?
A: As we enter the third year of the pandemic, Congress has a full plate heading into the New Year. No doubt Americans are ready to turn the page and move on with their lives without worrying about COVID infections disrupting travel, school, work and the economy. President Biden campaigned on crushing COVID and bringing America together. After one year in office, the federal vaccine mandates, public health guidelines and executive orders being issued by the Biden administration are causing uncertainty, confusion and lack of confidence among a majority of Americans. While bereaved families mourn the loss of loved ones, soaring inflation, rising crime rates and lawlessness at the border also are stoking concerns that America is on the wrong track. Sizable job swings in the workplace, exacerbated by lower labor force participation rates, have added to labor shortages that are contributing to kinks in the supply chain. Unfortunately, the solution coming out of the White House and Democrat Majority in Congress is to tax, tax, tax and spend, spend, spend. Even though the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate are operating by razor-thin majorities, leadership on both sides of the U.S. Capitol are laser-focused on advancing an out-of-touch progressive agenda. That agenda includes open borders, mass amnesty and deploying anti-terrorism surveillance tools to track parents who speak up at local school board meetings. The so-called Build Back Better agenda would shovel trillions more dollars of inflationary spending into the overheated economy. In 2020, Congress spent an unprecedented $4 trillion in pandemic relief. Even economists from the Clinton and Obama administrations are saying it’s time to slam the brakes on spending. Thankfully, the reckless Build Back Better plan is on life support for now. In the meantime, the Senate Majority Leader wants to rewrite longstanding rules to ram through a partisan agenda, including overturning election laws across the United States and putting them under federal control. For more than 200 years, the U.S. Senate has served as the “cooling saucer” to moderate legislation coming in hot from the House of Representatives. The 60-vote cloture rule guarantees the right for individual lawmakers to offer amendments and debate policy on behalf of the people they represent. It’s a critical guardrail that protects the interests of less populated states, like Iowa. Gutting the so-called filibuster rule is recklessly short-sighted. Even fiddling with a temporary suspension of the 60-vote rule is a slippery slope. What comes around, goes around. The Senate Majority Leader let the cat out of the bag when he was proselytizing about changing the rules for considering legislation to water down the rights of senators from the minority party. Make no bones about it. He wants to change the rules to cement his party’s power and political advantage for generations to come.
Q: What are some of your legislative priorities on behalf of Iowans?
A: From my committee assignments in the Senate, I’m continuing my push to reduce prescription drug prices and strengthen access to health care including telehealth resources; put teeth in antitrust laws; boost price discovery and price transparency in the livestock markets so independent producers get a fair price for their cattle and robust competition drives down beef prices for consumers; ensure the Renewable Fuel Standard is implemented as Congress intended; strengthen border security and curb drug and human trafficking; build upon criminal justice reform that keeps violent offenders off the street, including victims’ rights and support for local law enforcement; stop the flow of deadly drugs, like fentanyl and methamphetamine; rein in Big Tech to ensure a level playing field for small businesses and entrepreneurs on dominant platforms; plug the reckless, inflationary spending spigot to help restore economic growth and productivity; and keep a tight leash on China, including measures to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for human rights violations and its mishandling of COVID-19. I will also continue my oversight of the federal government to keep a check on fraud, waste, abuse and gross mismanagement. Transparency brings accountability and whether it’s wasteful contracting practices at the Defense Department, gross mismanagement at the Justice Department, or the failure of the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee contracts in China, the public’s business ought to be public. In 2022, I’ll continue my 42nd annual 99 county meetings across Iowa to hear what’s on the minds of people in every corner of our state. Representing Iowans is an honor and I’m working as hard as ever to keep our economy growing and strengthen safety, opportunity and prosperity in our communities and Rural America for generations to come.