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CEDAR RAPIDS — Republican members of Iowa’s U.S. House delegation said they were disappointed in President Joe Biden’ 100-day speech that reiterated his proposals for what one described as “more fluff and a lot of free stuff.”
“I went to the speech with open mind,” 1st District Rep. Ashley Hinson said Thursday, the day after Biden’s address to the nation.
Instead, she said she heard “a speech that was clearly about the heavy hand of government, more government. It was really about spending trillions of taxpayer dollars we don't have to fund policies that Iowans don't want.”
Rather than lay out a plan to rein in “wasteful” spending, to secure U.S. borders and prioritize the needs of rural Iowans through targeted infrastructure investment, Biden “outlined divisions that would massively expand the government's involvement in our lives at the expense of small businesses, workers, families in rural America,” Hinson said.
“It was really about spending trillions of taxpayer dollars we don't have to fund policies that Iowans don't want,” the freshman congresswoman said.
Although she called Biden’s speech “well-toned,” 2nd District Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks agreed with her GOP colleagues that she heard little of unity and bipartisanship from Biden.
Hinson and 4th District Rep. Randy Feenstra also were frustrated by what they saw as a failure to reach across the aisle to Republicans, especially on infrastructure, which they see as a priority for both parties.
“When President Biden was sworn-in, he pledged to work in a bipartisan manner,” said Feenstra, another freshman.
Instead, he said, the president “turned around and issued highly partisan and polarizing executive orders” detrimental to energy independence and the Second Amendment as well as allowing tax dollars to fund abortions around the world.
The lone Democratic in the Iowa congressional delegation, 3rd District Rep. Cindy Axne, said the speech celebrated the successes of Biden’s first 100 days — “including seeing over 200 million vaccinations and vital relief funds delivered with the help of the American Rescue Plan” — as well as the work still to be done.
Miller-Meeks, a physician, also credited the Biden administration for “admirable” work encouraging Americans to get vaccinated, despite failing to acknowledge former President Donald Trump and his administration for Operation Warp Speed, “which miraculously gave us three safe and effective vaccines in just nine months.”
The Republicans thought Biden missed an opportunity to seek common ground.
Feenstra said Biden’s $6 trillion proposals “with flashy titles (are) one massive Trojan horse for their far-left agenda.”
Feenstra claimed only 9 percent of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill went toward pandemic-related measures, and less than 6 percent of the $2.1 trillion infrastructure bill contains funding for roads and bridges.
“When you have more money going to subsidies for electric vehicles than you do actual physical infrastructure, your marketing plan is really messed up,” Hinson said.
Axne said she is ready to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on Biden’s ambitious agenda “to defeat COVID-19, create good-paying jobs, revitalize infrastructure and local economies, support our working families and farmers, lower the costs of education and prescription drugs, invest in renewable energy and American manufacturing, expand access to broadband and child care, tackle generational crises like climate change, and much more.
“I know my fellow Iowans will agree with tonight’s message from the president — there is no quit in America,” Axne said.
Addressing border security was another failure of the president’s speech, the Republicans said. Immediate action is needed to address increases of 233 percent in fentanyl seizures and 400 percent in the number of unlawful border crossings compared to March 2020.
“I heard a lot of posturing about holding terrorist countries accountable, but yet no solution to these terrorists coming across our southern border,” said Hinson, who met with sheriffs Thursday to learn how the border crisis is affecting law enforcement in Iowa.
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