Fact Check: Braley disputes Ernst's record on cutting pork

State representative running for U.S. Senate seat

Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA) goes over some notes as he walks to a meeting in the basement of the Rayburn House Of
Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA) goes over some notes as he walks to a meeting in the basement of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (Stephen Mally/Freelance)


“In the state Senate, Ernst never sponsored a bill to cut pork. Never wrote one measure to slash spending. In fact, ‘The Iowa Republican’ (online newsletter) said she backed measures to actually increase spending.”

Source of claim

TV ad called “Peep” by U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, running for U.S. Senate


Republican Joni Ernst made cutting spending, or “pork,” a centerpiece of her campaign for U.S. Senate by highlighting her experience castrating hogs. But Bruce Braley’s recent TV ad argues Ernst’s legislative record shows no evidence of cutting government spending.

We reviewed the bills and amendments Ernst sponsored during her four years in the Iowa Senate and found several that appear to refute Braley’s claim.

Ernst sponsored Senate File 105 in 2011, requiring the Iowa Department of Transportation to conduct a cost-benefit analysis before building new rest areas. That same year, Ernst also proposed a state hiring freeze (SF223).

We found proposals from Ernst to require drug testing for welfare recipients (SF90) and to check Social Security documents to prevent illegal immigrants from getting state aid (SF104).

Braley’s campaign communications director, Jeff Giertz, argued that none of those proposals guarantee direct cuts in state spending. Giertz pointed out requiring a cost-benefit analysis, drug screening welfare recipients and performing Social Security screenings likely would cost taxpayers more than any potential savings.

Legislation that directly cuts state spending is rare, as most of that process takes place in budget negotiations and through amendments.

Ernst took part in budget negotiations as a member of the Senate Appropriations and Education committees and consistently voted against Democratic spending proposals in that process. However, Ernst’s record shows she never proposed an amendment to an appropriations bill, or any bill, that would cut funding.

The second part of Braley’s campaign ad cites a Republican online newsletter that claims many of Ernst’s proposals actually increase spending.

We found several proposals from Ernst’s record that directly increased state spending. Those include establishing a preschool grant program (SF223), increasing tax credits for veterans (SF100) and increasing spending to repair roadways (SF2156).


The main crux of this ad centers on Ernst’s efforts, or lack thereof, to cut waste and slash spending.

The effectiveness of bills proposed by Ernst in the Iowa Senate is debatable, but the intent in many cases was clearly to reduce spending and waste. The ad claims Ernst never proposed a single piece of legislation to cut spending and waste but we found several proposals that show otherwise.

We rate this claim mostly false.

Comments: (319) 368-8604;


Iowa Legislative Record of Ernst-sponsored bills:

2011-2013: category=billinfo & service=dspldata & var=sspo & cfid=11232 & GA=84

2013-2015: category=billinfo & service=dspldata & var=sspo & cfid=11232 & GA=85

Iowa Legislative Record of Ernst-sponsored amendments:

2011-2013: category=billinfo & service=dspldata & var=assp & cfid=11232 & GA=84

2013-2015: ttp:// category=billinfo & service=dspldata & var=assp & cfid=11232 & GA=85


This Fact Checker was researched and reported by Adam Carros.


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