Iowa Republicans Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley are among the 17 members of the U.S. Senate who voted against a package that temporarily lifts the so-called “debt ceiling” and delivers the first installment of federal aid to hurricane victims in Texas. President Trump agreed to the plan advanced by Democrats that linked hurricane aid to raising the upper limit on how much the federal government can borrow.
“We are $20 trillion in debt,” Ernst said before the vote, “and, as congress, it just seems to be business as usual.”
Ernst would have preferred a senate vote on the “clean” bill that passed in the U.S. House yesterday that’s just about hurricane relief funds.
“We’re lumping things together here in the United States Senate that I think should be addressed entirely separately,” Ernst said.
Ernst has been in the U.S. Senate since January of 2015 and she was a “no” on a previous vote to raise the debt ceiling in October of 2015. Ernst said this morning that it’s for the rest of congress to realize it’s time to stop bumping up the federal government’s debt limit.
“I think it’s a bad way of doing business,” Ernst said. “I’m speaking for myself, not the entire GOP.”
In addition, Ernst said it’s time for honesty with the taxpayers and she said there “could be” and “should be” cuts elsewhere in the federal budget to off-set the hurricane relief.
“We know that the spending is important to help with this emergency situation. We need to do it,” Ernst said. “I agree we need to do it, but you can’t tell me that the initial dollars couldn’t be found elsewhere in the existing budget.”
Ernst made her comments this morning during a telephone news conference with Iowa reporters, before the vote was taken.
(This post was updated after the US Senate vote this afternoon)