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tv   Sen. Joni Ernst Town Hall Meeting  CSPAN  October 5, 2019 12:48am-1:51am EDT

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♪ >> the house will be in order. c-spaner: for 40 years, has been providing america unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events from washington, d.c. and around the country. so you can make up your own mind . crated by cable in 1979, c-span is brought to you by your local cable or satellite provider. c-span, your unfiltered view of government. republican senator sen. joni ernst (r-ia) held a town hall meeting in templeton, iowa. she answered questions from constituents on chinese tariffs, gun violence and health care. during the event, a constituent also pressed sen. ernst on president trump's criticism of the ukraine whistle blower and corruption in government. this is one hour.
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sen. ernst: thanks everyone for coming out today. this is my 33rd town hall of this year. been active and busy and out and about amongst our communities and constituencies. thank you very much for taking the time to be here with us today. we do have a lot of national media. thank you folks for coming out. it must be quiet on the presidential trail here in iowa today. you are absolutely welcome. thank you for being here as well. the way our town halls work, we do have a number of cards filled out by folks who would like to ask questions. if you would like to fill out a card and you didn't when you came in, raise your hand. staff will come by and will provide you with a card. you can fill that out and get your name thrown in there to be drawn as well. with that, we will go ahead and get started. i won't have an opening statement or anything. we want to get to as many questions as possible. if
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you have cards, send those up to the front here. emily will go ahead and call a couple names out. she will get folks in line. we will get started. thank you for coming. i apologize for any name i butcher. i will read two names. first, deb, followed by and are -- amber. hello. i'm a small business owner here in carroll county. i want to know what your concerns are and what you will do about these tariffs. i just received a letter from one of my suppliers. my product that comes from china is going to be up 103% in addition to the 25%. sen. ernst: right now, chinese
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negotiations are ongoing with the china tariffs and so forth. i continue pressing the president on this. i would like to see the chinese trade deal done sooner rather than later. it is one of the agreements that will not come through congress. it is being negotiated by the u.s. trade rep and the president and their team. yes, understanding it needs to come to a close. we will continue working with the president on that trying to , provide whatever support we can as congress, to enable him to get this done in a timely matter. these trade negotiations, especially when it comes to china, they are not as easy as negotiating with a traditional ally of ours. mexico and canada, those types of trade agreements, working with the eu, working with great britain, those are much easier. we do other things with those countries that we can use as leverage or additional partnership. with china, not so much. the issue with china --
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understand, they have been a bad actor for a very long time. they have treated our farmers horribly. while our commodities -- with renegotiating contract prices. are midr commodities pacific ocean. what we have to work on is making sure that they are working with us on intellectual property theft, on currency manipulation, and forced technology transfers. those are the biggest issues we have outstanding right now. we will continue to press to get this done. understand the concerns and i do hear those across the state of iowa. absolutely. the pinch is on. >> amber. followed by the faneuil. -- by nathaniel. thank you for the phonetic spelling. sen. ernst: amber? go ahead.
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>> i'm an educator. my husband is an educator. i'm a parent to three. what is the current discussion about gun control measures and safety in our schools? sen. ernst: absolutely. and thank you for that question. this is one of those issues we have been wrangling with now for a very long time. after the last recess, gun control issues were first and foremost that we discussed when we got back to congress. what we have to have is agreement on any bill that would move forward between the house, the senate, and the president has to indicate what he's going to sign into law as well. to make it a law, we all have to figure out the path forward. it has to have a clear and real and positive effect. between the two bodies in congress and the president, we are still working on what we can actually get done. understand
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the concerns that are out there. there's a lot of disagreement on this issue. we have to find a path forward. negotiations are still ongoing between congress and the white house. nathaniel followed by will of des moines. >> hello. i worked tirelessly as a constituent advocate. i contacted about people trying to am use social security. they have disabilities. many of which will be eventually cleared as a disability. social security takes four to five years, six appeal processes before that , process is finalized and back payments are paid. most of these people are not bedridden or homebound. but they are not able to hold gainful implement. whenever they try to get gainful employment they are punished. whenever they , try to deal with social security to improve themselves, they are punished. if they get married, they are punished. these are all federal issues. i
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have met with everyone running for president coming to this state and talking to them about this issue. republican and democrat, house and senate, everyone agrees this is a problem. no one has been able to make any howeverno one has been able to make any moves on this. people in the v.a. are also not getting the treatment they need. one person has a lot of elements. -- ailments. the v.a. knew about it and didn't tell him about it. he didn't know until he went to a private doctor. he only knew about it that point. asking why he had no treatment for cranial fractures. these people are dying. many of the ones who are not dying are , losing their ability to hold gainful employment because federal agencies are not moving fast enough. congress agrees it's a problem but nobody picks it up. sen. ernst: thank you. i can tell you are very frustrated. this has been a frustration of mine, too. anytime someone voices the fact that we need to make changes, whether it's with the v.a. and the way we do
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business there or whether it's with social security, whether it is traditional social security or social security disability. the media goes into a frenzy. we've seen this happen in recent past. there is an issue there where politicians are afraid to talk about those issues. we have to have real and honest conversation about it. understand that these programs need work. they need work. it's a huge government bureaucracy. we have people that need support in our own communities. we need to be able to cut through the red tape. to have honest conversations. we need to sit down, republican, democrat it , doesn't matter. we have to have honest conversations about the issues that exist within the federal programs and how we overcome them. until we sit down and do it without hysterics, and without trying to make it a
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political talking point, only then are we going to be able to move forward on any real significant change in those programs. thank you, nathaniel. >> will followed by laura of panora. >> will rogers with the iowa nebraska equipment dealers association. i wanted to touch base about ethanol. a lot of our farmers in the state of iowa, commodity prices are really down. part of that is the ethanol production issue that's going on. could you give us an update on what's going on in washington, d.c. right now about ethanol production and how we will get that back on track. sen. ernst: absolutely. this matters. this matters to people here in iowa. the renewable fuel standard is the law. it is the law. our federal government needs to be adhering to the law. we've had many discussions many times over. i've had many personal conversations on the
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phone with the president as well as meetings in the oval office with him as well. talking about how we move forward. i understand, on one hand the president is saying, we don't want to shut down small refineries for oil folks. i get that. we have ethanol plants that are closing. we have that right here in the state of iowa. so, we've been pushing the president. i was able to visit with him. governor reynolds flew out. we also had senator chuck grassley. we have the senators from nebraska and south dakota. we met in a small group setting with the vice president and the president. we came up with a plan to move forward for ethanol. and other biofuels. so, through that meeting, we thought we had a deal. so, once the word
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-- deal that could be supported by our industries and that others could be supportive of across our agonist reasons well. so, once the word got out that we had finally gotten to a deal, of course big oil came in and threw a monkeywrench in that. they said, this is unfair. maybe you don't think it's fair but it is the law. we are just asking the administration to uphold the law. i think we are on our way now. i can say that. the president reached out to me. i had a visit with him on monday. so, we are back to our original proposal. it is good. they want to see an announcement this week. we are working on that. bottom line, 50 billion gallons -- 15 billion gallons is with the law calls for. that is what we will stick with. i think we that is what we will stick with. i think we have a deal
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forthcoming. i want to see it in writing. we have had the rug pulled out from underneath us before. so, we got to see it in writing. but i think we are well on our way there, and hope we will have -- and hopefully we will have it resolved this week. thank you. >> laura followed by cam of manila. -- kim of manila. >> thank you for taking my question. i am following up on one of the questions by the teacher. i continue to be beyond frustrated by the lack of action by the senate and yourself on anything related to gun violence in this country. 100 people a day are killed by gun violence. [applause] we've had children gunned down in our schools. and here's the thing. 200 days ago, the house passed some reasonable legislation. i'm not anti-second amendment. i'm not against hunting or handguns. but when we have this kind of problem -- if these were
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terrorists coming into the country and murdering 100 people a day, you would be doing something. the house passed strong red flag bills. they also passed a bill that would require background checks on all gun sales. i would like to know your personal stand on this and what you are going to do about it. this for me will become a voting issue, because if you guys can't get your act together on this, what will you do with bigger issues in our country? [applause] sen. ernst: i would say, again, the house did pass their measure. but the president has said he will not support that. we do need to find something between the house and senate that will be agreed upon to move forward. i do think that there are ways that we can make sure any loopholes in background checks are closed. i think that that is a smart move ahead. we should be doing that. what is called red flag laws means something different in various states. i do support taking a look at some of those various measures.
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but making sure that due process is involved. because there are states that are passing so-called red flag laws where there is no due process for the person that is accused. so, we need to make sure that that is covered. we are still americans and we still do have rights. until those rights are taken away and there is due process involved in that. so, i do think that we should be looking at those proposals. but again, due process is very important to me. if we start stripping away people's rights, what's the next right we will strip away from someone before they've had their say in front of a judge? there are a number of things we can do. you mentioned a number of deaths every day. i agree. no, it's not where we should be as the united states of america. but simply, we have a lot of
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laws out there. i know people will scream about this. but we have laws in place already. those laws need to be enforced. there are a number of cases where we have seen these mass tragedies, laws were not enforced. if they had been enforced, maybe some of those lives could of -- could have been saved. simply by layering more and more laws out there, that's fine and dandy if you want us to feel good about writing a lot. but it has to be enforced to make a difference. so, i've had a number of folks who will come out to these town halls and say, senator, this needs to be in law. this needs to be in law. this needs to be in law. you know what? a lot of those things are already law. they are not being enforced. so, we need to educate ourselves on what is in law and how we do a better job enforcing it. and then i also believe that in some of these cases where we have had shooters that will act
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-- access a weapon, whether it's a parent or friend that gave them a weapon, those people need to be held accountable, too. you know? i'm a responsible gun owner. i'm a responsible gun owner. i keep my guns locked up. i'm not going to provide them to someone who doesn't have the authorization. i think there are a number of things we should be doing. lorenzenllowed by don of manning. >> thank you for this opportunity to hear our voices so you can be our voice. my question relates to climate. notably, the political climate. it seems increasingly problem addict that partisanship and mistrust has made working beether to problem solve at an impasse before consideration, discussion, or negotiation even starts. what are your thoughts on this and what are you doing to help
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the disruptive standstill and negativity this atmosphere creates? sen. ernst: thank you for that. i think that is a really important question because what we see on the media -- i want to thank folks in the media for actually being here and covering what is important to ioan -- too iowans. that is the first step. that we focus on issues that are meaningful to our various constituencies. but in washington, there's a divide. there are some hot button topics out there where we do argue. and we can go on the floor of the senate and go after each other and really debate and debate and debate. but there are issues that we agree on as well. there are a number of issues where we've been able to pass things out of committees unanimously. really important things like infrastructure bills. we just passed a highway
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reauthorization package. out of the environment and public works committee, unanimously, in the senate. how many of our outlets have covered that? did you hear about it in the news? a wonderful success, bipartisanship? no. it is not driving up viewership if we are not fighting about something. so, that tends to be what people cover. but all in all, there are some hot button issues that will really get our blood flowing. but there are a lot of issues that we really do agree upon. and we sit down and we have those rational conversations. so, if it is something like transportation, it's really important to so many of us. veterans issues, another one where we can come together and actually be supportive. just this last week, i introduced a bill that is
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cosponsored by democrat jacky rosen. it focuses on our childcare deserts across the united states and allowing loans for nonprofits so that they can develop childcare centers. that's important here in iowa. we don't have enough childcare facilities. we find things, common passions amongst the different parties. when we find those passions, we really work together on introducing bills. i think it's up to a number of us to set the example that we can find a path forward. but we have to be willing to work with the other party to do that. it's important that we work together and find solutions. it's not good enough to just have political talking points out there. we actually do have to be working together. again, the media likes to focus on the things that are going wrong. they don't focus enough on what's going right. that's what i would like to see more of. i think you would see more folks wanting to work together if they got recognition for actually
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doing a really good job at something their constituents care about. thank you. >> don followed by amy. >> i'm a public housing director. and thank you for coming, by the way, senator. one of the main concerns that i have had over time has been the trump administration's lack of funding for our programming. and kind of how public housing is being portrayed sometimes by the administration as people that are just taking advantage of a system when in our situation -- and i think across of most of iowa, because i do sit on the board -- it is primarily our elderly that are
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trying to live on the little bit of social security that they have. and so, my concern is always for our funding. like i said, the trump administration has consistently requested lower amounts of funding. actually for the last couple of years, they have recommended zero funding for capital improvements while at the same time hud has been increasing the pressure on us to make public housing just like new. our public housing unit is 50 years old very quickly here. i'm not quite sure how i can make our public housing new well having -- while having a recommendation of zero funding. between regulation and funding, what is your stance with public housing? sen. ernst: i'm a big supporter. thank you very much. i was just up at sioux city several weeks ago for the opening of everett apartments. which is a wonderful success for
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this new area. i'm proud to be part of that. what i remind everyone, too, is that the administration, the president, has to make his recommendations for a budget every year. by law, he has to. but remember, it is congress that holds the purse strings. i do support those initiatives. i think it's really important. iowa is one of the states that tends to suffer a little bit with the housing voucher issue as well. and i have introduced a bill, we have tried to work this out in a way that will also meet some of the demands of some of the more urban, metro focused states. let me explain a little bit where i'm going. we have housing vouchers for families that live in iowa. that will help them receive low income housing, rent, and those vouchers are provided to those that live in the state.
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but what can happen -- and i will share an example that i know personally, is there are waiting lists in other states, in other communities. maybe there's a waiting list in the chicago area. or in illinois. and so, a family from illinois or an individual will move into iowa and receive an iowa housing voucher. but then they will move back to illinois. and you know where i am going. the housing voucher from iowa goes to illinois. the pot of money for iowa, we end up paying for housing in illinois. and just in the sioux land area, and i know this because i did a little research -- just in the area, $50,000 a month in iowa housing vouchers goes outside of the state every month. every month.
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$15,000. that's enough to house 45 iowa families. and yet, it's going to another state. so, i have a bill that i have introduced. the only way we can get bipartisan support there was if there is still dollars available pot ofother state's money, then that other state would pick up that housing voucher. but if they have a waiting list, we are still on the hook to pay for housing in other states. there's a number of ways i'm trying to work through this issue for iowans to make it workable here. but i do support your programs. and i think they are very important. we have pockets all across the state of iowa where low income housing is very important. we want to make sure that folks can sustain a healthy lifestyle, live in a safe environment, and
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we can work on those projects together. we absolutely should be doing that. so, that's my message to the administration is that the still -- we need this. one other area i want to touch on before we move onto the next question is my empowers act. we have an issue. i just spoke to a young lady in southwest iowa not that long ago. she is in low income housing. she just took a job working for a bank. she's a single mom. she now is making too much money so her low income housing, the rent is going up. she's losing childcare because she is making too much money. so now that young lady who was qualifying for low-income housing and childcare through federal government programs has now been cut off from that. she's had to take a second job now. so we are kind of defeating the
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purpose by hurting those were -- those who are trying to do better for themselves and their families by cutting them off. my empowers act would allow people in that situation that maybe need the additional support and are trying to get on their feet, we penalize them for doing better by cutting them off completely. once they get to a point. but through empowers, by working with a number of programs and with states, we can tailor a sliding scale so that as they do better and do gain more income, we can help them off of poverty or out of poverty without cutting them off completely. as they do better, we gradually decrease what the federal government is doing. but we don't want to put them in a bad place where they are losing all assistance. so, that is my empowers act. i think it is gaining traction. we've got more sponsors this year than we did the first time i introduced it in last congress. we are talking it up.
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we are trying to do better by folks that are trying to better for as well. thanks for being here to speak on that issue. >> amy followed by mary of carroll. >> i have fibromyalgia so i tend to misspeak a little bit because i don't have insurance to be able to cover for that. and everybody keeps saying, we are back to preconditions, and we want all of this to be taken care of. yet, you vote opposite of what you say you will do. and i will move back a little bit. i had probably a good six or seven questions i wanted to ask. but at the same time, what's most important is, you started talking about china a little bit ago. about having to work with china. we have family farms that are going under. we have people that are bankrupt. we have southwest iowa underwater. they couldn't sell their corn that was sitting there, their
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beans. i can't talk today. there seeds. they had to put it in storage, washed away. they don't get money for that. and yet today, just this morning, we have president trump saying, we need to talk to xi jinping, presdient xi, and have him investigate joe biden. how is that helping anybody? [applause] we have him talking to the russians. mueller report, nobody read it. except for the ones who actually wanted to read it, because they wanted to know what was in it. we have him going after ukraine. protectant weapons to from my buddy in russia, you will have to do what i want you to do and investigate joe biden. now this morning, we have him going, well, he is going to be in the white house here in the next couple weeks. yet, we are going to have -- he should investigate joe biden,
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too, because i'm sure there is other stuff out there. and then we get conspiracy theories and lies. we get everything else except what we really need to know and what we really need him to do. and it is just -- where is the line? when are you guys going to say, enough? stand up and say, i'm not backing any of this. because we constantly have everybody, oh well, it's not this, it's not that. everything else. but yet, you still stand there silent. and your silence is supporting him in not standing up. [applause] you yourself served. you didn't pledge an oath to the president. you pledged it to our country, you pledged it to our constitution. when are you guys going to start standing up and actually be there for us? sen. ernst: good question. >> i'm not a democrat. i'm an independent.
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i don't want you to think i'm a plant, antitrust person. sen. ernst: [laughter] i don't. just to address pre-existing conditions. thees, i did vote to repeal aca. but i have supported other initiatives that protect pre-existing conditions. let's make that very clear. i know there's a lot of ads out there and a lot of sloppy work by whoever is running all of these ads. they are probably not iowans, to remind everybody. if you would go back and take a look during that debate, and primarily one that i really would work, is the bill and the work i did with susan collins that would protect folks with pre-existing conditions and cover those high cost medical care for those that need it.
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so, let me back up. a little bit about the ads on pre-existing conditions. everybody thinks that politicians are immune to all of this. they don't have the same issues. but both of my siblings are type one diabetics. and they have lived on insulin their entire lives. it's not healthy for them, they've had some significant challenges. folks, i have a nephew with autism. so, i get it. i do get it. and i understand the challenges. when my sister has to switch insulin because some government program says she has to switch according to the aca, we can't do this anymore, that impacts my family, too. i do understand the pre-existing conditions. so we have the aca in place. but you said your condition is not covered.
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>> my husband has insurance through his work. but to cover me, it would take half his check. my children are covered. i cannot be employed right now because i can't talk to you without messing up my words. i have good days and i have really, really, really bad days. and most employers don't understand that. we keep hearing about all these jobs, but they are minimum wage jobs that do not have insurance. he makes just enough that i'm not covered by the state. sen. ernst: a state exchange option -- and i'm going to say it for you, it's probably too expensive. i have dear friends of mine in montgomery county, small business owners, who were paying, because of the aca, we were looking at the options available to them. for them to go through the aca, mom, dad, young son, $28,000 every year in premiums.
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they make just too much to qualify for government subsidies. >> but that has been repealed. that has been taken away. sen. ernst: not nearly enough. let me go back to the bill i had with susan collins and let me talk about it and explain what that would do. it creates an invisible high risk pool. the state of maine was doing this before the aca. and it was working. and the aca outlawed it. but what the state of maine was doing was something called an invisible high risk pool. and with that invisible high risk pool, you would have folks like yourself that would be in that invisible high risk pool. you wouldn't even know it. well, you probably would if you had a pre-existing condition. you would just assume. but you are paying the same as everybody else, regardless of condition. and once you hit a certain limit that the insurance company that
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was covering you, it would be a predetermined amount. once you hit that limit, then you would roll over into that risk pool and will be covered by the state. so you wouldn't miss a beat. you would still be covered by that insurer. and once the insurer got to that preset limit with the state, the state picks up the rest of the . tab.he rest of the that way, your condition is covered. and no interruption to you. that's what we were working on. we didn't get enough support in the senate to have that measure in place. but we still do have the aca. so we still are going through issues. but i am also on a bill that covers pre-existing conditions with tom tillis as well. there's a number of other bills that exist out there. if we are put to a point where the aca is repealed, it is going through the judicial system right now. if that should ever happen, then
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we need to have our plans in place and ready to go and be ready for a full debate again. and i still think that invisible high risk pool is a way to do it, to make sure everyone is covered regardless if they are a type one diabetic, if they have autism, if they have fibromyalgia. you would be covered. so, i think that is really important. i do support people with pre-existing conditions. i certainly wouldn't want to do that to my family members. i want to have a plan. and i think my plan would work. repealed,that gets you would have an out. we have, what, a year? everything sits. what will happen? sen. ernst: they anticipate that potentially next year there would be a ruling on this. so we have what we have already voted on, of course. but we also have our own task force. we have a couple doctors in our republican caucus.
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and all of the input that we have received from various doctors, hospital associations, and so forth. all of that can be rolled together. we go through the voting process again and determine what will work. but we need cooperation from the house as well. regardlesss, again, of party, we need to be sitting down and working through this issue together. >> understood. sen. ernst: i don't want to leave folks in the lurch. >> what about the second part of my actual question? sen. ernst: so, president trump. i can say yeah, nay, whatever. the president will say what the president is going to do. it is up to us as members of congress to continue working with our allies, making sure that we remain strong in the face of adversity. that's what we have to do. continue to encourage those other countries.
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that's what we will continue to do. >> i beg your pardon. but all of our allies? he is pushing aside -- he is making fun of them on twitter. sen. ernst: ma'am. >> we end up with, we love people from north korea. or we love russia. but where -- i mean, i understand it's a nonanswer answer. i understand. i get it, i know what you're saying. sen. ernst: i can't speak for him. i'll say that. >> you can speak for yourself. sen. ernst: i do. i have said this time and time again. north korea? not our friend. russia? not our friend. i have made that very clear. the president knows where i stand on those issues. >> what about whistleblowers? sen. ernst: and i've already said that, too. whistleblowers should be protected. i stand with chuck grassley. we have laws in place. again, laws need to be enforced. >> i understand, but we are not hearing it. sen. ernst: that is because the media is not covering those issues. >> you have to say it for media
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to cover it. sen. ernst: whistleblowers should be protected. thank you very much. whistleblowers should be protected, please. let the folks out there no. >> our president shouldn't be threatening them. he also should not be encouraging other countries to investigate his political rivals. sen. ernst: i would say to that, corruption, no matter where it is, should be ferreted out. if we have corruption here, it should be ferreted out. if there is corruption in other countries. and i have traveled to ukraine. i have visited -- i have not visited with the new president. but many years ago, i had the opportunity to meet another president. one of the issues i spoke to him about was the fact that in ukraine, there's a large amount of corruption. they have tried to deal with that corruption. they need to continue dealing with corruption. i don't care where it is or who it is. when it is. corruption is corruption. and it should be combated. >> but it's ok for a president
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to extort every country? sen. ernst: we are going to move on to another question. but what i would say is, we can't determine that yet. we have information that will be presented to the senate intelligence committee. and they will call in the witnesses as necessary. it will be done in a bipartisan manner. in a fair process and they will evaluate that. so, not jumping to any conclusions. we don't have the full story yet. once we do, we can make that determination. we go ahead and move to another person. >> mary, followed by james of sioux city. >> hello. i am mary. i came with one question but i have a lot of thoughts after listening to all the discussion. first of all, i want to say to the press, i'm not throwing you
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under the bus. i respect that you are here, that you cover things, that you help us to find out the truth. you hold us accountable to what we should be. [applause] so thank you to the press for being here. and thank you for what you do in your profession. to you, senator, thank you also for being here. i respect that you are coming to get information. i heard you say that you are accomplishing many things behind the scenes that we might not all be aware of. and i understand that at your level. i understand that on the house side. i think there are a lot of things going on that maybe aren't in our daily lives that we are aware of. and thank you for working on those things. i am here, however, for that hot
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button question. and i'm following up on the two previous questions about it. i'm here as a grandmother. and i'm here because i want our country to be safe for my grandchildren. i've written to you, i've called you after some of our major mass shootings. i've heard you say that you -- and correct me if i'm wrong, you just said the president will do what he will do. so i don't understand why, when there is a background check that was passed in the house of representatives, it is waiting for the senate to act on it? you are a senator. you can take action on it. why would you wait for the president to decide what he wants to do about it? he has changed his mind on it many times. it depends on the day. why would you wait for him, as a legislative body?
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there are three parts of the government. you have your role. i want the senate to act on the background bill. [applause] i understand. understand. >> following will be bob of des moines. >> good morning. thank you so much once again for giving us an opportunity to come and meet with you and talk to you. i really appreciate all the service you are doing for iowa and the rest of the country. first and foremost -- hello? yes. just to let you know, i was in d.c. last month again and i had a very good fruitful meeting with your staff. as you probably may recall, i am a position from sioux city,
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iowa. i am a lung specialist. my wife is a dentist. essentially, i'm part of the indian-american community here. and president trump actually was with us. over 50,000 plus people. we want to thank him for that. the reason i'm here is that you are one of our really big sponsors of our bill. this is a very commonsense bill. it actually takes away any kind of rationing of green cards based upon the country of origin. for somebody like me who is a skilled immigrant and serves the communities in rural iowa, my toght -- my wait -- mylize his more than
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wait to naturalize is more than 70 years. there are people who come from lesser populated countries and get a cut -- green party in one year. i've been waiting for seven years now. i know people who have been waiting for more than 15 years. this bill basically gives green cards on a first-come, first-served basis. without it, i know kids who belong to relatives and other friends who will age out at age 21. they will just become like the dhaka kids. -- like the daca kids. they have been in this country all their lives. just because they were born elsewhere. i just learned that the senate, among the senate republicans, there's unanimous agreement to get this bill passed through. the house has only passed it by a strong bipartisan support. and interestingly enough, when the democrats say they are a party of pro-immigrants, i find
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that senator durbin, he's holding up the bill. i do believe that he has prejudice against people from my country. that's very unfortunate. i can't fix that. all i'm here to request you to help pass this bill to be able to get this passed through. to get through this impediment and help us get this law, this bill passed into law. i think that will be a huge achievement in this highly partisan time. and be able to show that we can certainly work together when it is something as common sense is -- as this. sen. ernst: thank you for your perspective. i do support it. i am an ardent supporter of the bill. it does address bringing folks in that are skilled in a certain area like physicians.
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we all know that in rural iowa, we need additional physicians. we need dentists, we need anesthesiologists, you name it. we need all of the above. so if we have folks that are immigrating from other countries, we need them. so this would help us. especially in rural iowa. to fill these positions that are so desperately needed. as pointed out, i've said this in many of my town halls. we need to modernize our immigration laws. and this is a great step forward in addressing some of those needs in immigration. [applause] so, we do. we have got labor shortages from low skilled, unskilled, all the way up to the most highest skilled folks like yourself. we actually need to have it in our great state of iowa. i think this is a great first step forward. we will continue working to try to move that bill. but it would be a very positive step forward for us.
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if we could get this done, maybe there are other areas of immigration we might be able to get done as well. thank you again. you have been a great advocate on this issue. thank you for attending today as well. [applause] >> bob will be followed by adam of carroll. >> thank you. hello, senator. we knew each other slightly when you were in the state senate a few years back. i would like to hear your comments on making the connections between the heavy spring rains and flooding and carbon in the atmosphere. and global change, global warming change. sen. ernst: i can't make those connections. maybe other folks can. we do know that we have changing weather patterns. we do have to acknowledge that. ways we can be helpful? i think iowa is a leader in this area.
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finding a way to move forward and using the resources that we have at hand. we would like to see other states provide incentives as well. things i am talking about about is renewable fuels. we all know that ethanol burns cleaner than petroleum products. i would encourage all of you to go out today, fill your car with something that has e10 or e15. we would love that. but other examples are wind energy. it is something that has been incentivized by republican governor terry branstad as well of windrandfather energy chuck grassley. a wonderful renewable source of energy that is cost effective and providing iowa with close to 40% of our electricity. 40%. other states don't come nearly as close. after mid-america gets done with
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their wind energy field in western iowa, iowa will draw 40% -- 80% of its wind energy for electric use. it's a great opportunity for us here in iowa. we are also involved in solar panels. we have a number of solar fields. we get about 10% of our electric from solar. but all of those have been incentivized. it hasn't been the federal government telling us or mandating that our communities do this. we are doing it because incentives have been provided. and our consumers are demanding that clean energy. so, we have seen a natural evolution in the state of iowa. i think that's important to remember. it didn't take federal government intervention to make this happen. it is something we have done our own. i will continue to support those programs. i think it is really important. >> adam will be followed by mark
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carver of des moines. >> hello, senator. i'm the president of the highway 30 coalition. thank you for being here. my question is really two parts today. the highway 30 coalition is of course promoting the four-lane completion of highway 30 across the state of iowa. we believe this is really important to economic vitality in our rural communities and sustainability moving forward. with transportation, you had mentioned a little bit earlier that there is some bipartisanship. as we talk about transportation. i believe that as well. what might you be able to do to really get the federal side of things, looking at our interstate system, and committing the money it needs in order to continue to build and sustain the traffic on the interstate? by doing that, you will relieve
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the burden of the iowa d.o.t.'s funding situation and be able to support our rural iowa roads which are critical to our small communities and the rest of the transportation in the state. sen. ernst: we have already done our part in the senate. what we have done through the committee, unanimously supported, bipartisan support, was a highway reauthorization bill. additional dollars that will go to our roads and bridges. the one thing that we can agree on is infrastructure. the one thing we don't agree on is how do we fund that infrastructure. adam, you are well aware of some of the pushes and pulls involved with finding additional dollars. so, while we weren't able to get the $1 trillion package of infrastructure that president trump wanted to see initially, what we have been able to do in a bipartisan manner is that bill through the senate edw committee. we need to see it on the floor of the senate.
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it might even have to move as part of a larger package to get it done. but we need to have that cooperation between the senate and the house as well and have th those additional dollars comg into the state of iowa. you are right. they would ease the burden of our iowa d.o.t. they have a number of projects they have outlined that will be very important to the state of iowa if they can get those additional dollars. we are working on it. we will continue to push to have a vote on the full senate floor. >> next up will be mark and our final question will be liz of kuhn rapids. >> first i want to thank you for your service and all you have done in your career. my older brother sent me because he's a disabled vet. he wanted me to thank you for all the changes so he can get
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medical care easier. he's been very sick. he couldn't make it today. he has had to adopt his great game kids. -- his great grandkids. but secondly, i would like to ask about the student loan forgiveness for disabled vets. where is that at? are you for that? and has your opponent made any statements on anything like that? sen. ernst: right now, i don't have an identified opponent. and i don't want to get too far into that political ground. but yes, anything we can do to help those disabled veterans is very important. understanding that our nation has called upon them. they have served. and if they are disabled, making sure that education is important for them. if there is a way that we can help with that debt repayment, we certainly can take a look at that. you know, have to see what would
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to moveown into writing forward, but typically we would be supportive of that. we do offer a number of educational benefits already to our veterans. if there's a way we can help them, then we can take a look at that, certainly. i would likely be supportive of those efforts. yes, veterans. we have a number of things that have gone on. very positive for our veterans. you mentioned allowing access to care, making that easier. i've had so many veterans, when i first went into the united states senate, i had a veteran i had known from ocl, -- from oceola, from clark county. he's like, i don't get why have to drive by two perfectly good hospitals to go to the v.a. to get my blood drawn, which takes 15 minutes. we shouldn't force our veterans to do that. and he's an older disabled vet. finding rides to get to des moines can be difficult on those veterans as well.
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especially in the rural areas. so making sure that we are supporting our community-based outpatient clinics, really important. telehealth is an area i've been focused on. both within the v.a. and in our civilian hospitals as well. using telehealth, telemedicine. very important. it helps connect our rural communities with specialists in other areas. those have been some efforts that i've been spearheading for our veterans. there's a lot of things we could be working on to help our veterans. and i just had a bill that was signed into law not that long ago. it did deal with disabled veterans. we found a disparity when veterans are applying for bankruptcy. so those that are disabled, their disability income from the
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v.a. was included in the calculations for repayment. but somebody, a regular civilian that is on social security disability, there social security disability social security disability is not included. our government was actually treating our veterans worse than they were treating civilians who had not served our country. what we did, we repaired that. we found parity. now that it has been signed into law, that veterans disability payment will not be included for repayment calculations. we are finding ways to help our veterans, not only those that have served but those that have a disability due to service. we will continue to do that. it's one of my greatest honors to be able to do their work for them. i'm glad to have that opportunity to serve. thank you. [applause]
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sen. ernst: liz? i'm a farmer from the area. since we started farming, we have lost half of our topsoil. the top usda soil scientist says we are going to lose the rest of our topsoil in 35 years and we are going to lose the rest of our topsoil in north-central iowa in 80 years. the reason he says we are losing the soil is climate change and deteriorating soil health. what, in addition to the incentives the government has provided to the solar, wind, and ethanol industries, can we do to reduce carbon, which is still increasing? so the measures we have made are not sufficient. and if you have time, what changes would you make to the
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u.s. farm bill to do something about providing better incentives to preserve our soil? sen. ernst: actually, i have actually done that. i spearheaded the conservation efforts with debbie stabenow in our farm bill. debbie stabenow is the democrat ranking member on the activity. -- on the agate committee -- on the ag committee. i actually worked in conjunction with her on this conservation effort. it was bipartisan. what we have done is allow expanded access to those conservation programs to make sure the dollars are going to the programs that actually work. i'm a supporter of this conservation effort. and my voting record will show that. it's been bipartisan. actually, the ranking member of the agricultural committee and i worked together on those efforts. i was very supportive of those. i think it's really important that we continue to work on soil health here in the state of iowa and make sure that the right conservation practices are in place for better soil health.
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i'm a supporter there. that's what we are doing in addition. and that's what we have addressed. and so, just supporting those efforts as well through various incentives, and that's what we will continue to do as the federal government. i do want to thank everybody for coming up today. thank you for being very respectful and welcoming. our media came into the townhall. this is my 33rd townhall in the state of iowa. [applause] i'm glad to come out and hear your concerns. if you noticed during the course of our discussion, i did take notes on who was asking questions and what their concerns were. i do keep these. now, my staff will go back and enter my notes into our systems.
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if i do have a question or i want to follow up, whether it's challenges with fibromyalgia, whether it is challenges with soil health, whatever it is, i can go back and see who was asking the question. hopefully we have your contact the card, and we can do a follow-up with you. your voices are heard. i appreciate it. what i also like to do is compare, what are the top issues i am hearing in these other counties from corner to corner here in the state of iowa? top two issues are trade and the economy. i lump those together because they go hand in hand, and health care. those are the top two issues i get at most of our town halls. those are consistent regardless of where i am in the state of iowa. thanks so much for taking the time to come out and be with me today. i really do appreciate your input and your voices. thank you. have a good afternoon. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019]
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[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [indiscernible conversations] announcer: c-span's "washington journal." live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. saturday morning, wall street journal economics reporter sarah cheney will join us to discuss the september jobs report and the slowdown in manufacturing. we talk about how house democrats impeachment push is impacting campaign 20 20. watch "washington journal" saturday morning. and be sure to watch "washington journal" starting at 7:00
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eastern as the c-span bus continues our battleground states tour across the country. monday morning, we will visit the state of ohio. next, the national review institute and pacific legal foundation preview the new supreme court session. a panel of attorneys who argued before the court several times spoke about some of the cases to watch this term. they include a case that challenges louisiana's abortion law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. other key focuses on whether federal law products on transgender discrimination. and one will focus on president trump's decision to end daca. >> good afternoon. my name is todd. i am the chief of strategic research at pacific legal foundation.

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