CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst joined the Iowa Chamber Alliance on Friday morning for bacon, eggs and a federal policy discussion to gather perspectives for her to take back to Congress.
The Republican U.S. senator was the featured speaker at the organization’s “Federal Priorities Forum” in downtown Cedar Rapids.
“We have the chambers that represent small businesses and larger businesses all across Iowa right here in one room,” Ernst said. “It is great to be able to visit with them, and hear what their concerns are, with not only state policy, but federal government policy, because that is where I can really make an impact,”
The alliance represents Iowa’s 16 largest Chamber of Commerce and economic development organizations.
In her address to business leaders, economic development professionals and elected officials, Ernst highlighted federal government policies in 2015 that impacted Iowa’s economy, including the Trade Promotion Authority — the so-called fast-track authority — that provides the executive branch ability to negotiate trade deals with other nations under parameters set by lawmakers.
“TPA is so important to Iowa. We are a net-export state. One in five jobs in Iowa relies on exports trades to other nations,” the senator said. “It isn’t just our agriculture commodities. We see so many pieces of equipment going overseas. It is not unusual to go somewhere like France or Germany and see a John Deere tractor.”
Ernst continued her criticism of the attempt by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assert control under the Clean Water Act over even small waterways, and an “out-of-control tax and spend climate that consumes Washington and hurts our businesses.”
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Ernst made the stop Friday as part of her tour of all 99 Iowa counties — what is known as the “full Grassley,” named for Iowa’s senior senator.
“It’s a great way to experience Iowa. I can see now why Sen. Chuck Grassley has been doing it for 36 years. It keeps you in touch with what is going out across Iowa, to know the things that are important and maybe the issues that aren’t as pressing,” Ernst said.
When she returns Monday to Washington, Ernst said she will keep in mind the issues audience members expressed at the forum, including allocating money toward a statewide flood relief plan, addressing the nation’s pilot shortage, reinforcing the Renewable Fuel Standard and assisting small towns in making costly infrastructure upgrades.
“Sen. Ernst is really in touch with what is going on in the state. Her leadership and her voice in representing Iowa is critical and exactly what we need right now,” said Molly Grover, the chief executive officer for the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. “Her position is in line with the Iowa Chamber Alliance’s agenda, and I think we heard that over and over again in her message.”