Senator Joni Ernst said she’s “thrilled” by victories in Iowa and across the country by her fellow Republicans and she predicts quick action in the Republican-led congress next year on “ObamaCare issues” and tax reform.
“Let’s get the economy going by getting by big government out of the way. Let’s strengthen our military. Let’s make sure our Americans are safe,” Ernst said during an interview with Radio Iowa. “We’ve got a lot on our plate.”
Ernst is cautioning against being too optimistic about an immediate repeal of the health care law, however. Republicans have won just 51 seats in the U.S. Senate. At least nine Democrats in the senate would then have to join Republicans next year to cut off debate and hold a vote on legislation.
“Even to repeal ObamaCare, we still need 60 votes in the senate, and we struggled through that these last two years, knowing President Obama would veto it anyway, but now we have an opportunity,” Ernst said, “so if we can find a positive way forward — repeal it, but replace it with a more market-driven, free-economy approach that some of our Democratic colleagues would support, I think we do have a pathway.”
In addition, if the law were immediately repealed, as many as 200,000 Iowans could become uninsured. More than 45,000 Iowans are getting “ObamaCare” subsidies to buy private insurance. More than 150,000 other low-income Iowans are now covered by government-paid Medicaid because of the law. Some Republican bills to “repeal and replace ObamaCare” have outlined a two-year transition period and Ernst suggests that’s a proper path.
“I do think it’s going to be a process,” Ernst said. “I’m concerned about making sure that people don’t fall through the cracks. That is really important.”
In October, after premium increases in the “ObamaCare” exchanges were announced, Ernst said those “rising costs once again prove the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable.”
Ernst met with President-elect Donald Trump this summer and Trump revealed this past Sunday during his campaign rally in Sioux City that Ernst told him she wanted to stay in the U.S. Senate rather than be his running mate.
“I think we will have a very good working relationship and I am extremely positive about his presidency and his ability to lead,” Ernst said.
Ernst said she told Trump she has a lot more work to do for Iowa in the U.S. Senate. She’s not interested in leaving the senate to take a job in the Trump Administration either.
“I tried to make it very clear that my heart is with Iowa and there may be other discussions,” Ernst said, “because we have a lot of other brilliant folks throughout the Midwest that maybe he would consider visiting with me about, maybe having some Iowans that would perhaps serve in the administration.”
Ernst said Trump’s victory speech on Election Night set the right tone for the transition.
“What we saw during his speech was the Donald Trump that I know,” Ernst said, “who is willing to work together with others to make things happen for the United States of America.”
Ernst expects she’ll continue to serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee and on the Ag Committee in the new congress.
“We are looking at a very tough Farm Bill coming up and I want to be involved in that because that does affect so many of our Iowa communities, our farmers and ranches, small businesses and manufacturers here in Iowa.”
Ernst also serves on the Senate Homeland Security Committee.