Ernst addresses Middle East, House Democrat actions

Joni Ernst official portrait

In a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon, Sen. Joni Ernst touched on several topics.

Ernst supports keeping a minimal number of U.S. troops in the Middle East for stability, and to provide advice and assistance to our allies. She believes that America’s role can continue to be scaled back.

“What I am afraid of is pulling our troops out right now, we won’t see the enduring defeat of ISIS,” Ernst said. Ernst is the first female combat veteran to serve in the United States Senate. She went on to say that even though the caliphate ISIS established has been defeated, individual members have spread out and pose a threat for individual acts of terrorism or members will regroup to once again create a strong threat.

“It really is an interesting dynamic,” Ernst said. “We need partnerships.”

Those who have been our partners, Kurds in Syria, are adversaries to Turkey.

“That partnership went away,” she added. Ernst remains concerned, and wants America to take time to figure out our role in the region. The role we have right now is to maintain the defeat of ISIS, keep stability in that region and protect our interests – which is to keep ISIS down.

Ernst also took multiple questions regarding the secretive hearings led by Rep. Adam Schiff looking into possible wrongdoing by President Donald Trump. It’s not an official impeachment inquiry, as the impeachment process requires transparency, the involvement of the opposing party and an official vote by the members of the House. None of these have occurred, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said no vote on impeachment will be held.

“Democrats have been so heck bent on making sure they impeach this president they have been randomly acting,” Ernst said. She was asked about Senate Republicans showing more support for the President. Ernst did not openly say she has Trump’s back, but only that she views her role as a jurist – if an impeachment trial comes to the Senate.

“We just want to make sure they’re following the process and the President is given a fair chance,” Ernst said. “There needs to be some following of the process that has ruled the day in the past.” She later said the President has not received that courtesy. “We don’t even know what the Articles of Impeachment are.”

Ernst also addressed agricultural concerns, including the House’s failure to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. She suggested Iowans ask Representatives Dave Loebsack, Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne about the status of the deal.

“Only the House can determine when that will come up,” she said. Ernst believes there is enough support in the House for passage.

“If it was brought up today, it would probably pass,” Ernst said. “We just don’t have the people with the wherewithal to do what’s right for Iowans.”

Ernst also pledged to continue to pressure the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce the law that requires 15 billion gallons of ethanol be used for fuel. She encourages Iowans to submit their comments during this period, as the EPA writes rules regarding ethanol.

“It is important for Iowans to make voices heard,” Ernst said.

Ernst also told reporters she continues to try to fight the opioid epidemic and encourages participation in the drug take back event planned for Saturday. Unused medicines can be dropped off any time at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Pella Police Department and Knoxville Police Department during regular business hours.

She is also working on rural broadband access improvements and hopes that her bill, intended to limit presidential perks after they leave office, will get a vote in the Senate soon. Taxpayers are on the hook for supporting past Presidents more and more each year.