U.S. Senator Joni Ernst with GOP Committeewoman Demetra DeMonte and husband Tony
By Nancy Thorner –
CHICAGO – Last Saturday, the Chicago-based conservative group Family PAC Federal hosted newly-elected U.S. Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa. The group, chaired by John McEnroe,has raised nearly $1 million for federal candidates.
Preferring not to speak behind a podium, using a hand-held microphone Senator Joni Ernst appeared humble and sincere. She admitted that her life has been quite a journey from where she is now from where she came from.
Senator Ernst was born in Southwest Iowa, a very sparsely populated area of Iowa, on a small family farm. She has an older brother and a younger sister. They all pitched in with the chores, which was part of life when growing up in rural Iowa. Her father worked hard and was determined to provide for his family. But when farming hit a rough patch, Jodi’s dad purchased a bulldozer and did construction work on the side. This too became a family endeavor. Through it all Jodi was taught the value of hard work, the determination to see things through, and the value of the dollar.
Senator Ernst (L) and Family PAC’s Executive Director Paul Caprio (R)
After high school Jodi Ernst went to Iowa State University. While in college Ernst became an exchange student, traveling to Ukraine with 17 other students to spend several weeks on a Ukrainian collective farm. In the evening talk sessions were held, but instead of the conversation centering around agriculture, Joni and her fellow college students were asked questions, such as: 1) What is it like to be an American?, 2) what type of government does America have?, and 3) How was your government formed?
Jodi Ernst’s Ukrainian student exchange trip changed the direction of her life. Driven to to do something more for her country, Jodi joined the ROTC and was later deployed to the Middle East for 14 months, where during 2003 and 2004 she participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 1168th Transportation Company of the Iowa National Guard, commanded by Jodi Ernst, drove across Kuwait and southern Iraq transporting materials from May to August 2003.
Later in its deployment the Iowa unit served as a protection detail outside Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. As there were no armored vehicles at the time, it was fortunate that the unit had no IDs to contend with. Prayer, however, was essential to Jodi and her fellow deployed Iowa National Guardsmen. Of the150 deployed to the Middle East, all came back home. The fact that all 150 came home safe and sound was a significance and important event in Jodi’s life.
Arriving home from deployment, Jodi Ernst became aware of challenges that existed in her home county of Montgomery, Iowa. Accepting a political challenge, Jodi Ernst ran and won her bid for a seat in the Iowa Senate, which led directly to her Iowa U.S. Senate victory in 2014. While serving in the Iowa state senate Jodi observed that a level of respect must be present among elected members in order for an effective and open level of communication to exist.
Joni Ernst as a newly-elected Iowa senator
A show of respect by other U.S. senators was apparent when Senator Jodi Ernst, while yet in her first month of serving as a newly elected senator from Iowa, was chosen to give the Republican response to President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address. Sporting camouflage high-heels, Ernst referred to herself as “a soldier” in the second line of her speech. Senator Jodi Ernst’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address can heard here.
Being a pro-life candidate is a bedrock position for Senator Ernst. Informed that her pro-life position would sink her candidacy, Ernst stood by her values. Yet Joni Ernst was elected by an amazing majority of 8-1/2 points over her Democrat challenger. In the Senate Joni serves on the Values Action Team with Republicans Tim Scott, Roy Blunt, and James Lankford. Joni’s favorite topic to bring up at meetings is the life issue.
Speaking about her first 90 days as a U.S. senator, Senator Ernst related what a remarkable journey it has been. Referring to the Republican-led U.S. Senate approved 2016 budget blueprint that was finally enacted at 3:00 a.m. on Friday, March 27th, after much jockeying and compromise, Senator Ernst applauded the legislation as an important Senate achievement.
As remarked by Senator Ernst: “It was the first time in seven years that a budget was passed by the Senate.” It has been reported that the Senate legislation will balance the budget in 10 years without raising taxes, trim trillions of spending dollars, and repeal “Obamacare.” Now the House and the Senate need to reconcile the differences that exist in their bills.
The House of Representatives approved its own budget version on Wednesday, March 25, a nearly $3.8 trillion plan which eliminates the federal deficit in nine years and slashes $5.5 trillion in spending over a decade. Senator Ernst spoke of an effort made by senators to raise military spending, but because the sequester caps are still in place for the Department of Defense, military spending can’t be increased as long as the caps are in effect.
Questions directed to Senator Ernst were limited because of her scheduled flight back to Iowa:
Question 1: Our debt is $18 trillion, yet it’s more like $120 trillion. Why don’t we hear more about our massive debt level and what will be done about it?
The unfunded liabilities of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are now on auto pilot. They are not budgeted. This must change. Disability payments have only two more years to go before the system is broken. Hard decisions lie ahead if programs are to be funded.
Question 2: What do you think of the League of Women Voters?
Don’t worry about the group. To Hillary it’s not enough to just be a woman. You also have to care about women’s issues. But don’t most women care a lot about education for their children, jobs and the economy, national security, and getting rid of Obamacare? Senator Ernst linked the appeal of the League of Women’s Voters to those voters who accept there is a war on women.
A plaque was presented by Anthony “Tony” Nasharr of Wounded Heroes Foundation Inc. to Senator Jodi Ernst to honor her military service and dedication to country.
Paul Caprio thanked all for attending the event, offering this final remark, “This is a great country that can defeat history.”