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- U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson said she helped to secure work on Iowa’s locks and dams that is financed with Infrastructure Investment and Jobs funds.
- Iowa state Sen. Liz Mathis said Hinson was taking credit for the funds when she did not vote for the infrastructure bill.
- Hinson spoke out against the infrastructure bill and voted against it in July but later was included in a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to request that funds be allocated for direct use on the river.
On Jan. 19, U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, sent a press release that said $829 million in funding was allocated from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to repair and refurbish locks and dams on the upper Mississippi River. The press release served as an announcement by Hinson, Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Following the announcement, Hinson tweeted:
"We secured $829 million in federal funding to upgrade locks & dams along the Upper Mississippi River. This is game-changing for Iowa’s agriculture industry & our Mississippi River communities!"
The tweet garnered plenty of criticism from Democrats for her use of the word "we" in the statement, as she voted against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in July 2021 that is funding the program.
Iowa state Sen. Liz Mathis, D-Hiawatha, responded to Hinson’s tweet, accusing Hinson of taking credit for work she didn’t do.
"Ashley Hinson voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill that made this money possible. Once again she’s taking credit for work she didn’t do," she said.
Mathis is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination to challenge Hinson in the 2022 election for Iowa’s reconfigured 2nd Congressional District.
"This is yet another example of Ashley Hinson claiming that she supports investments that benefit Iowans, but voting along party lines against their best interests in Washington," Mathis wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan.
The bill passed in the U.S. House on July 1 by a 221 to 201 vote, and then the U.S. Senate on Aug. 10 by a 69 to 30 vote. The only Iowans to vote in favor of the bill were Democrat Rep. Cindy Axne and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley.
In a Jan. 20 press call to Iowa reporters, Hinson said she opposed the act because it was tied to social spending. However, she said, the money was going to be spent regardless once the bill was signed into law and Iowa should get its share.
"If there’s federal money on the table, do you think I’m going to sit back and let that go to states like California and New York? Hell no. I’m going to make sure as much of it comes back to Iowa," Hinson said.
The $829 million allocated to fix parts of the Mississippi River came after Hinson, Bustos, Grassley, Durbin and Blunt requested in a Dec. 10 letter to the Corps of Engineers that projects in the upper Mississippi River area get priority for infrastructure bill money.
Sen. Joni Ernst, and Reps. Cindy Axne and Mariannette Miller-Meeks signed the letter as well. They did not spearhead the lobbying like the five lawmakers who worked together. Ernst and Miller-Meeks both opposed the infrastructure bill when it came to a vote.
The only Iowa lawmaker who did not sign the letter was Rep. Randy Feenstra.
In the January press release, which had statements from each member of the bipartisan Midwest congressional group, Hinson said the funds are necessary for fixing the river’s locks and dams to support supply chain movement in and out of Iowa’s 1st Congressional District.
On Nov. 8, 2021, the day the infrastructure bill was presented to President Joe Biden for his signature, Hinson sent a press release condemning the bill, both because it was tied then to the Build Back Better Act, and because she said it contained unnecessary spending.
The infrastructure bill reauthorized the $650 billion of existing spending that is usually allocated yearly for infrastructure needs, but added $550 billion in new spending. Hinson said in the press release that she would have voted for the bill if it only featured a reauthorization of the $650 billion to go to any infrastructure needs but opposed the addition of new funds.
"Let me level with you, I think most Iowans would support reasonable spending on real, physical infrastructure. However, I believe this bill adds too much additional spending for items aside from the physical infrastructure Iowans care most about, without fully paying for them," the press release said.
Grassley, who, like Hinson, opposed in September a partisan Democrat-led supplemental spending bill that allocated money for Mississippi River projects, supported the infrastructure bill. He signed the letter lobbying for the river funds, tweeting on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20 that the allocated funds, which also include money for the Missouri River valley, will be beneficial for Iowa’s agriculture. He also sent out a press release that highlighted how he supported the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
While Grassley’s release did not mention Hinson by name, he said the funds were allocated after a bicameral, bipartisan group of lawmakers sent the letter.
"When I voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, I was voting for exactly this type of federal support for critical infrastructure that Iowans depend on," Grassley’s press release said.
Liz Mathis has accused Ashley Hinson of taking undeserved credit for getting federal funding for Mississippi River locks and dams. The claim is based on the fact that Hinson voted against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that is funding the works project.
Mathis ignores in her statement that Hinson lobbied the Army Corps of Engineers to spend funds from the bill on lock and dam repairs. Hinson says she wanted to make sure Iowa got its share of money made available by the bill.
But, additional money Hinson voted against had to be available for the $829 billion worth of work to be done. Had her "no" vote prevailed, the additional money may not have been available in future bills.
We rate Mathis’ claim to be Mostly True.
Tweet from Ashley Hinson
Press Release, "Hinson Statement on Infrastructure Package: "Washington Gamesmanship, Spending at Its Worst," Nov. 8, 2021
Ashley Hinson press call, made available through Hinson press office, Jan. 20, 2022
Letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, from Richard Durbin, Roy Blunt, Chuck Grassley, Cheri Bustos and Ashley Hinson, and joined by several other U.S. representatives and senators
Tweet from Liz Mathis
The Daily Iowan email exchange with Liz Mathis
Tweet from Chuck Grassley
Tweet from Chuck Grassley
Press Release, "Mississippi Locks And Dams To Get $829 Million Thanks To Grassley-Backed Infrastructure Bill," Jan. 19. 2022.
H.R.5376 - Build Back Better Act
The Daily Iowan email exchange with Rep. Cindy Axne’s press office
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