116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
VINTON — Iowa Republican U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson talked inflation, transportation and drug costs with small business owners during a stop Monday in Vinton.
Republicans, including Hinson, have criticized President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats for driving record inflation due to what they’ve termed reckless spending, creating a tax on middle and working-class families. Hinson also blamed Biden’s administration for being too restrictive on domestic oil production.
Democrats note jobs numbers and unemployment rates have improved under Biden. But even as the economy has quickly amassed jobs, inflation has left many workers feeling worse off as wages have not kept pace.
High inflation is a major political liability for Biden and congressional Democrats, who have blamed Republicans for blocking their ideas to lower prices for Americans.
“Republicans are not standing in the way,” Hinson said, arguing Democrats’ proposals contain “poison pills” Republicans cannot support.
She pointed to the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act that passed the House in May but failed to advance in the Senate. The bill would give Biden the power to crack down on oil and gas price gouging. Republicans, including Hinson, unanimously opposed the bill, along with four Democrats.
Hinson argued the bill amounted to pushing government price controls, which supporters deny, that would lead to even less oil and gas production at a time when the Biden administration should ramp up domestic production and turn to Iowa’s biofuels to bolster the nation’s fuel supply and bring prices down at the pump.
She noted her support of legislation that passed the House last month to allow for the year-round sale nationwide of E15 ethanol blend, similar to provisions included in an executive order recently signed by Biden.
Hinson, too, pointed to her support for bipartisan legislation co-sponsored with Democratic U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Florida and Kurt Schrader of Oregon aimed to combat inflation and help lower the price of goods and services. The legislation, called the Informed Lawmaking to Combat Inflation Act¸ directs the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to analyze the inflationary effects of pending legislation with a significant budgetary impact and provide members of Congress with that information before voting on such bills.
Hinson and Murphy have said requiring members of Congress to understand the inflationary impact of their actions will be key to getting inflation under control.
Democratic challenger Liz Mathis, a state senator from Hiawatha who is running this year for the seat, argues Hinson has voted against bipartisan bills that would help Iowans, including voting against the bipartisan infrastructure bill, while taking credit for funding to modernize and expand locks and dams on the Mississippi River made possible under the law.
Hinson spoke out against the infrastructure bill and voted against it, but later was included in a bipartisan letter to the Army Corps of Engineers to request that funds be allocated for use on the river.
Hinson said she opposed the act because it was tied to social spending; however, she said, the money was going to be spent regardless once the bill was signed into law.
Mathis also criticized Hinson for opposing a measure to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to lower prices.
Hinson instead is a co-sponsor of legislation her office says seeks to lower prescription drug costs by bringing new treatments to the market, increases transparency and accountability for drug manufacturers, and provides an out-of-pocket cap for seniors in the Medicare Part D program.
"Yet again, Rep. Hinson is telling Iowans one thing here at home, then going to Washington and voting with her party bosses against bipartisan bills to help Iowa,“ Mathis said. ”She voted against bipartisan infrastructure projects to improve our transportation system and get the supply chain moving to bring down costs.“
Hinson, during her visit with Vinton business owners, also highlighted legislation she’s introduced that would “help prop up rural manufacturing” and modernize existing law to help workers access voluntary skills training and educational opportunities.
The Marion Republican introduced a bill that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to exempt employers from having to pay employees overtime for training and similar activities outside of work. The bill would excluded time spent attending or participating in lectures, classes or training programs from hours worked — regardless of whether the activity is offered or facilitated by the employer — provided attendance is voluntary and outside the employee’s regular working hours; the employee does not perform any productive work during attendance; and not participating will not adversely affect their employment and working conditions.
Terry Hart, who co-owns Brickside Brew-N-Chew with his wife, Sue, said the bill will provide the business greater flexibility and “a big boost” to offer barista and food safety and sanitation training to employees outside of work.
Currently, Hart’s wife is the only employee who is licensed under the state’s ServSafe certified food protection manager course.
The couple said they’ve had difficulty hiring and affording trained full-time staff, and cannot afford to pay overtime.
“She’s got some great legislation she’s trying to get passed that’s going to help small businesses,“ Hart said.
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