Sen. Joni Ernst came to the U.S. Capitol in 2015 on a promise to make Washington “squeal.”
She vowed to “cut wasteful spending,” telling voters in her infamous 2014 campaign ad she “knew how to cut pork” because she grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm.
“My parents taught us to live within our means,” said Ernst, in the 30-second video. “It’s time to force Washington to do the same.”
Congress “is full of big spenders,” she said. “Let’s make ’em squeal.”
After more than four years in the Senate, has Ernst, facing her first reelection campaign in 2020, lived up to her own promise?
On Aug. 1, Ernst was among 67 senators in the Republican-controlled chamber to vote in favor of a two-year, $1.37 trillion budget deal. Twenty-three Republicans voted against the bill, largely citing a blow to the nation’s annual spending deficit.
Politico noted that Ernst was central to the bill’s passage.
“Grassley — along with Joni Ernst of Iowa, Mike Crapo of Idaho and Dan Sullivan of Alaska — proved to be the tipping point for undecided Senate Republicans,” Politico reported. “Once leadership got the support of that bloc of votes, it was able to ensure a GOP majority for the legislation.”
Ultimately, they were part of 29 Republicans and 38 Democrats in pushing it across the finish line.
The Congressional Budget Office expects the deal to add $320 billion to the deficit over the next two years, and $1.7 trillion in a decade.
Without a budget bill, Congress would have thrown the country into another government shutdown.
Ernst released no statement in the wake of the budget’s passage. Instead, on Aug. 1, her office pushed a press release about her bill to codify President Donald Trump’s rollback of the Waters of the United States [WOTUS] rule, which Ernst has argued was an infringement by the federal government on private land.
Despite voting for the budget bill, Ernst supported an unsuccessful amendment by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul to set lower spending caps for the next 10 years and balance the budget.
In the House, Democratic Reps. Abby Finkenauer, Dave Loebsack and Cindy Axne voted in favor of the Bipartisan Budget Act. Republican Rep. Steve King voted against it.
By Elizabeth Meyer