Ernst on 2020 and the New Year

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2020 has presented unique challenges for folks all across our state. The global pandemic coupled with a devastating derecho has been tough, but through it all we’ve witnessed the resilient spirit of Iowans.

As I safely and responsibly traveled Iowa on my sixth annual 99 County Tour – visiting every county in our beautiful state – I continued to listen to your stories, challenges, and successes to take your voices back to Washington.

COVID-19 was certainly top of mind for so many, and that’s why I prioritized getting relief to families, workers, small businesses, farmers, and folks in all walks of life. I worked swiftly with Democrats and Republicans to secure billions in relief for more than 60,000 of our small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). And in the newest COVID-19 relief package, I again worked across the aisle to bolster the PPP.

I’ve continued to be a strong advocate for our families; fighting to expand access to child care services, provide financial relief for family caregivers, crackdown on scammers targeting our seniors, and support our nursing homes and senior care facilities. Through the bipartisan CARES Act, I helped secure nearly $32 million in relief for Iowa child care centers and pushed for more assistance for Iowa’s diaper banks. In the newest aid package, I worked in a bipartisan way to make sure our child care industry continues to have support.

When it comes to health care, I’ve also worked hard with Democrats and Republicans to support Iowa’s hospitals and health care systems throughout this pandemic – including expanded telehealth and mental health treatment – to push for lower health care and drug costs, and to expand access to care, especially for rural Iowans.

Having grown up on a farm in rural Iowa, the same community I still live in to this day, I understand the challenges our hardworking farmers face. With the pandemic and devastating derecho, things were that much tougher this year. That’s why I pushed to secure immediate COVID help for our pork producers and strengthen our food supply chain. I successfully helped provide support for Iowa’s dairy, turkey, egg, and cattle producers –  and in the newest COVID-19 aid package, deliver more agriculture support.

In the immediate aftermath of the derecho, I met directly with Iowans and local leaders on the ground to help ensure recovery resources were available, including assistance for farmers and cooperatives impacted by the storm. Most recently, my bipartisan bill to provide tax relief to communities, families, and businesses hurt by the derecho was signed into law.

When it comes to trade, I helped finalize the USMCA, supported getting the Phase One trade deal with China done, and pushed for a new deal with the U.K. And, of course, I’ve kept up the fight for our biofuel producers – always pushing to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). I helped get the “gap year” small refinery waivers thrown out, secured a commitment from the president to allow E15 at E10 pumps, and helped push the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow ethanol to be used for hand sanitizer. And just recently, after pushing Congressional leadership, we successfully made COVID relief accessible to renewable fuel producers.

While there was a significant portion of this year focused on pandemic and derecho recovery, there was also a lot of other really important work we were able to get done for Iowans. As a combat veteran, and subcommittee chair on the Armed Services Committee, I take very seriously my duty to support our servicemembers and veterans. Throughout the year, I’ve continued my work to combat sexual assault in our military and military academies, and have taken action to prevent abuse at the VA. I’ve also built on my bipartisan efforts to ensure quality care for our vets, combat veteran suicide, and help veterans transition to civilian life. Through the annual defense bill, I helped military women have proper-fitting body armor and equip our troops for the battlefield with modern technology, including military systems built and developed right here in Iowa.

Whether it was securing critical COVID relief, working to rebuild from the derecho, fighting tooth and nail to defend the RFS, or continuing to be accessible to Iowans across our state—in 2020 I never stopped fighting relentlessly and delivering for all Iowans.

As we head into the New Year, I’ll continue to be your voice in Washington and to always put Iowa first.

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