Hinson, Miller-Meeks humbled to be joining U.S. House

Swearing-in ceremony scheduled for Sunday morning

Ashley Hinson laughs with her husband, Matt Arenholz, Nov. 4 as they recall telling their sons, Max, 9, and Jax, 7, abou
Ashley Hinson laughs with her husband, Matt Arenholz, Nov. 4 as they recall telling their sons, Max, 9, and Jax, 7, about her victory as Hinson speaks with journalists after her win in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District race at her Cedar Rapids campaign office. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Being sworn in Sunday as members of the U.S. House will be a humbling experience, Eastern Iowa’s two newly elected congresswomen say.

“I think just mostly I’m humbled and honored and excited,” Marion Republican Ashley Hinson said about being among the 61 freshmen who will be sworn in at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Hinson, a two-term Iowa House member, has known since election night when she defeated Democratic incumbent Abby Finkenauer that she would be in the incoming class of the 117th Congress.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks, an Ottumwa Republican, was packing away Christmas decorations when she learned Wednesday that she would be sworn in, too.

She will be seated provisionally because her six-vote victory in Iowa’s 2nd District is being challenged by Democrat Rita Hart, who has asked the House to investigate and determine the winner of the seat replacing retired Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack.

“It’s the first time I’ve truly been able to become excited about the process,” said Miller-Meeks, who resigned her Iowa Senate seat upon learning she would be seated while the fate of the contest is decided.

“It’s very humbling and I think it’s a tremendous responsibility,” Miller-Meeks added.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, attendance at the ceremony in the House chamber will be limited. Although Hinson’s family is in Washington for the weekend for some sightseeing and to help set up her office and apartment, only her husband, Matt, will be able to attend the ceremony. Likewise, Miller-Meeks’ husband, Curt, will be present.

Both women will be carrying personal Bibles with them when they take their oath of office.

“I have my Good News Bible that I got when I was a young child,” Hinson said.

“I’ll take with me the Bible that I used for swearing in to the (Iowa) Senate,” Miller-Meeks said.

They’ll also take other mementos. The diminutive Miller-Meeks plans to keep a copy of “The Little Engine That Could” in her office. The signature phrase in the American folk tale is “I think I can.”

Hinson will display a stained glass goldfinch — the Iowa state bird — in her office along with a sign from Hinson Manufacturing. It was a 1920 era Waterloo automotive textile company that made the “Aire Cushion” seat pad. The goldfinch was created by Dubuque artist Tim Sandman. She’ll also have a metal farm sculpture, a gift from Dawn Driscoll, a state senator-elect from Williamsburg.

The swearing in ceremony will be broadcast at 11 a.m. Iowa time on C-SPAN 1.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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