Rep. Ashley Hinson, a Marion Republican representing Northeast Iowa, took a wide range of questions from Ukraine to Social Security to Jan. 6 defendants and more during two town hall meetings in Brooklyn and Marshalltown on Thursday.
Jan. 6 Insurrection
At Hinson’s first stop Thursday morning at the Brooklyn Opera House in Poweshiek County, a woman complained that many Jan. 6 defendants were treated more harshly than those “on the left” who had various charges dismissed.
(Though some cases have been dismissed and some acquitted of charges, there is no evidence that federal judges are dismissing cases against defendants based on their political leanings. Rioters gathered that day in support of former President Donald Trump, a Republican, to prevent Congress from certifying the presidential vote for President Joe Biden in what they called “Stop the Steal.”)
Unlike Sen. Chuck Grassley, who noted at town halls last week that defendants were successfully claiming Capitol Police opened the doors for people and that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had “miles of film” she wasn’t yet sharing, Hinson didn’t give Jan. 6 defendants any slack.
“I believe in accountability … whether that was on Jan. 6, or whether that’s in a riot, or whether that’s someone stealing a car, or perpetrating violence against their spouse in our community,” she said. “Jan. 6 was a terrible day. I was there. I want to make sure the people who did break the law be held accountable.”
Another audience member in Brooklyn asked about Social Security, and whether it would be around in the coming decades.
Hinson said if Republicans retake the House majority in November, that they would be done “kicking the can down the road on this issue,” though she admitted it would involve “making some tough decisions” to keep the program from disappearing. Social Security is the largest program in the federal budget and takes up nearly a quarter of federal spending.
“My goal is to make sure it’s around. That may involve taking some tough decisions. You sent me to Washington DC to make tough decisions,” Hinson said. “One of the things we’re talking about … our biggest plan, once we take the majority back, is to present not only a 10-year outlook for budgeting, but a 20-year outlook … A couple of years ago, Iowans had to make some tough decisions about our IPERS (Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System) program here … It’s my goal that these programs are in existence long term.”
A questioner at Hinson’s late-morning town hall at Marshalltown Community College asked about “anything we can do to ensure we have a fair and free election … with all the mail-in balloting and drop boxes and all these things that call into question elections.”
Hinson responded by noting Iowa elections had been, and would continue to be, fair.
“Iowans know our election process works,” she said. “I completely trust that we’ve done what we need to do here in Iowa to make sure we have election integrity, and that your voice is your vote here.”
She said she believed in “commonsense” measures like Voter ID, but said each state had the right to run its own elections. She also said she believed Congress should not be in the business of “federalization of elections,” calling bills like the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which passed the House on a party-line vote, “unconstitutional.”
“I believe that many states have taken action to make sure that we will have no doubt that our elections are safe and secure,” she added.
Another attendee in Marshalltown asked about Hinson’s thoughts on the strategy for dealing with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying he believed it “needs to be bipartisan, that we’re strong and that we can help keep peace.”
Hinson noted Congress was “doing everything we can to provide resources,” and noted legislators agreed to send $13.6 billion in aid to the beleaguered nation in March on a House vote of 361-69. Hinson and the rest of the Iowa delegation voted for the bill. About half of that money will be spent bolstering US troops in the region—though not in Ukraine itself—and sending defense equipment, with the other half split between humanitarian and economic aid.
“We wanna make sure that they have the weapons that they need to defend themselves,” she said. “I don’t think soft diplomacy will work here.”
But she said decisions needed to be strategic.
“I think the last thing we want is to be in a war with Russia,” Hinson said. “We know Russia continues to posture—they just fired a hypersonic test (intercontinental ballistic missile) this week. … They’re just poking, continuing to poke.”
She named a new “Axis of Evil” as “Russia, China and Iran.”
“That’s, I think, our next—if we’re trying to be proactive and looking forward in making sure we’re supporting one of our allies, Taiwan needs our support as well,” Hinson said. “You talk about the impact to our supply chain: If Taiwan is taken over by China, or if there’s a conflict there, that’d be devastating to us as well—we rely on them for a lot of products.”
By Amie Rivers
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