D.C. Dispatch: Iowa’s delegation speaks on Ukraine, Reynolds and Supreme Court nominee

By: - February 25, 2022 3:30 pm

Sen. Joni Ernst and former Gov. Terry Branstad spoke to reporters after a Feb. 23, 2022 event in Des Moines. (Photo by Katie Akin/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

All eyes were on Ukraine this week, as Russia launched a military invasion into the country. Iowa’s D.C. delegation spoke about the crisis as they traveled through Iowa, visiting with constituents while Congress was not in session.

Iowa delegation calls for sanctions, prayers for Ukraine

Russia launched a military assault on Ukraine Wednesday night, shortly after Rep. Joni Ernst spoke at a foreign policy forum in Des Moines. 

Iowa’s senators and representatives condemned Russia’s actions.

“Russia’s flagrant violation of international law and invasion of a sovereign democracy is unacceptable,” Rep. Cindy Axne tweeted Thursday. “The U.S. stands ready with our allies to ensure there will be consequences for this act of dire aggression.”

Republican members of the delegation called for stricter sanctions against Russia. Ernst has criticized Biden for not issuing sanctions sooner or taking strong enough action.

“Putin deserves no grace. He is slaughtering innocent people and attempting to overrun a sovereign, freedom-loving nation, and partner of the United States,” Ernst said in a Thursday statement. “The administration should not be holding back; our adversaries are certainly not.”

Rep. Randy Feenstra called Thursday for “crippling economic sanctions.” 

Biden has issued several rounds of sanctions over the week. White House staff confirmed Friday that Biden would sanction Putin directly, the latest in a series of actions against Russian leaders.

Republicans praise Reynolds, tax cuts ahead of national speech

GOP leaders announced Gov. Kim Reynolds will give the Republican rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Iowa’s Republicans in D.C. celebrated the news on social media, praising Reynolds for her leadership and highlighting a tax cut passed Thursday evening.

“Once again @KimReynoldsIA leadership is unmatched!” Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks tweeted Friday. “Through this bipartisan tax cut, Iowans will be able to keep more of their hard earned money.”

Former Gov. Terry Branstad also had kind words for Reynolds after a Wednesday forum with Ernst. Reynolds served as lieutenant governor to Branstad from 2011 until 2017.

Branstad praised Reynolds for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, comparing it to his leadership during the 1980s Farm Crisis. 

“She kept our schools open, she kept people working and protecting the health of the citizens,” Branstad said.

Senators weigh in on Supreme Court pick

Biden announced Friday he would nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Jackson will need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Iowa’s senators didn’t say much about Jackson on Friday.

Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was looking forward to looking through Jackson’s record. 

“I’ll make my determination based on the experience, qualifications, temperament and judicial philosophy of the nominee,” he said.

Ernst said Jackson deserves “a fair, respectful, and thorough review.”

“Justices must be impartial, fair, and dedicated to interpreting the text of the Constitution and upholding the rule of law — not bending to the political winds of the moment,” Ernst said. 

Read more: Biden taps Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court

Axne promotes police bill in Altoona

Axne held an event Thursday at the Altoona Police Department to tout the “Invest to Protect” proposal. The bill would create a grant program for small police departments. Grants would be available for safety and de-escalation training, recruitment, mental health resources, body cameras and overtime costs.

“All across central and southwest Iowa, our law enforcement officers go to work every single day to protect Iowans and help keep our communities safe,” Axne said in a statement. “These officers deserve the same access to federal grants as the officers in big cities, but there’s no dedicated way for our federal support to reach officers in our rural areas.”

The proposal has 46 bipartisan cosponsors, including Axne. The House has not taken action on the bill.

Grassley, Ernst call for leniency on pesticide prohibitions

Ernst and Grassley joined Sen. Robert Marshall, R-Kansas, and Sen. Mike Braun, R-Indiana, in a letter asking the Environmental Protection Agency to be more lenient on certain pesticide bans.

“If these producers lose the ability to use certain crop protection products, farms will be forced to forgo conservation practices, like no-till farming, and revert to full tillage methods to control pests,” the letter reads.

House Republicans: Make trade with China ‘more balanced and reciprocal’

All three of Iowa’s House Republicans signed onto a letter calling for President Biden to pursue a new trade agreement with China.

“There has never been a reason to trust the Chinese Communist Party at their word and they should be held responsible for their failure to comply with their end of the trade deal,” Miller-Meeks said in a statement. “The Administration is failing Iowa farmers by not holding the CCP accountable.”

Feenstra, Miller-Meeks and Hinson also signed a letter urging Biden to stay actively involved in negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran. 

Hinson and Miller-Meeks visit Israel

Miller-Meeks and Hinson joined a congressional delegation to Israel. The group met with political leaders and visited religious sites.

“The US relationship with Israel isn’t about politics, it is rooted in our shared values & security interests & we reaffirmed our unwavering support for Israel during our discussions,” Hinson tweeted.

Return of the ‘u kno what’

Grassley stopped by Windsor Heights Dairy Queen on Wednesday for “u kno what” – ice cream.

He posted a tweet in reference to his viral 2014 post in which the senator cryptically said the Windsor Heights store was a “good place for u kno what.”

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.