116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
With the start of a new year comes reflections of the past year, and many lawmakers highlighted their accomplishments in 2021.
Iowa’s U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne was among them, touting her accomplishments for 2021 in an end-of-year report published Dec. 21. The Democrat representing Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District listed her legislative accomplishments, including bills signed into law and grants awarded to Iowans. We’ll look into four of the claims Axne makes in the report.
Claim: “11 Axne-backed bills signed into law.“
Of the 11 measures signed into law in 2021 supported by the representative, Axne included the Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans’ Mental Health Act as well as a bill that renamed the post office in Clarinda after Jessie Field Shambaugh, an Iowan known as the “Mother of 4-H.”
She was listed as a co-sponsor on two other bills: Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veterans Therapy Act and VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021.
The American Rescue Plan Act was included on the list. Axne had announced her support of the bill in late February 2021.
The Treatment in Place Act, written by Axne, had language also included in the major COVID-19 relief legislation under section 9823. Though it wasn’t its own separate bill, that policy did pass into law with the American Rescue Plan.
Another piece of legislation listed in the claim was the bill to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 13 servicemen killed in Afghanistan in August 2021. Axne was one of more than 300 co-sponsors.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law Nov. 15, was also listed in the representative’s claim. According to her office, the bill reflects provisions advanced by Axne and others in the House Rural Broadband Task Force.
Axne is a co-sponsor on the House version of Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act of 2021, but it was the Senate version that ultimately passed on Sept. 24.
The list also included legislation that provided assistance for those affected by the 2020 derecho. Axne penned a letter with other lawmakers supporting the original legislation that she co-sponsored, but it did not ultimately pass into law. However, Axne’s office argued for the provision providing $10 billion in aid for damaged crops that was included in the continuing resolution that went into effect in September 2021.
Axne seems to have fudged the details with some of these bills being signed into law, and it’s unclear what role she may have played in setting these policies.
Claim: “319 grants for Iowa towns and entities.”
According to USASpending.gov, which tracks and compiles data on federal government spending, there were 329 grants awarded from the federal government to various entities in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District between Jan. 7 and Dec. 2, 2021.
The searchable database shows these grants were awarded to cities as well as agencies and companies based in Iowa. Some recipients were redacted from the database because it contained personal identifiable information.
These grants ranged in amount, from $8.8 million to the nonprofit community health center in Des Moines, Primary Health Care Inc., to about $900 to the city of Atlantic.
It’s hard to tell what role Axne had in securing these grants, but she is correct there were more than 300 federal grants for towns and entities in the state’s 3rd Congressional District.
Claim: “Greater than $5 billion to invest in Iowa’s infrastructure.”
A White House fact sheet on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, enacted in November, estimates Iowa will receive $5.07 billion over five years from the bill. The largest share of that is $3.4 billion for federal highway projects, but money is also allocated for bridge replacement, broadband, public transportation, electric vehicle charging, drinking water infrastructure and airports. The fact sheet notes these figures are estimates and may change in future fiscal years.
Axne was among 228 House members, including 215 Democrats and 13 Republicans, to vote for the bill. Iowa’s other U.S. representatives — Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Randy Feenstra — voted against the bill.
The infrastructure money hasn’t all been allocated yet, but the U.S. Department of Transportation recently confirmed the estimate of $432 million for bridge replacement. Iowa has 4,571 bridges in poor condition, according to the U.S. DOT.
Claim: $114 million in federal grants for IA-03.“
This information comes from USASpending.gov, which has a searchable database to find out who is getting government money and how much.
When you search for grants to Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, which Axne represents, and filter out subprime awards and money to the state overall, it comes to $114.16 million for Jan. 1-Dec. 21, 2021, which is when Axne published the claim.
Axne says she’s championed investment in Iowa, but it’s hard to tell exactly what her role was in District 3 securing each of the grants last year. Still, she’s right that her district did get this money.
Though it’s unclear how large her role was in the 11 bills she listed as her legislative accomplishments, she did appear to at least support those measures in some capacity. She’s also accurate in the federal funding that benefited 3rd Congressional District.
With three As and one B, Axne earns an A overall.
The Fact Checker team checks statements made by an Iowa political candidate/officeholder or a national candidate/officeholder about Iowa, or in ads that appear in our market.
Claims must be independently verifiable. We give statements grades from A to F based on accuracy and context.
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Members of the Fact Checker team are Elijah Decious, Erin Jordan, Marissa Payne and Michaela Ramm. This Fact Checker was researched and written by Erin Jordan and Michaela Ramm.