U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) chats with local mayors at an economic development roundtable in Indianola.

(Winterset, IA) U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) last Saturday launched her third 99-county tour with four stops. As part of her Saturday schedule she led a economic roundtable with local mayors in Polk and Warren Counties. The room at the Warren County Administration Building grew crowded as well over 50 people.

At the meeting the Affordable Care Act, water quality issues, infrastructure and rural economic development were discussed.

She also stopped at the Northside Cafe in Winterset, IA for a coffee with Joni event which also had approximately 50 people in attendance.

Ernst took a few minutes after the Winterset event to answer a couple of question before going to a stop in Clarinda.

After being asked to share her thoughts about President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet selection Ernst said, “I am very excited about the Homeland Security nominee that is General John Kelly.”

“He served as the SOUTHCOM commander. He has great understanding about the cartels, human trafficking, and weapons that are being smuggled into the United States. He understands protecting our homeland so I think he is an exceptional choice,” she added.

She also spoke highly of General John “Mad Dog” Mattis (USMC, ret.) being appointed as Secretary of Defense. She said he is someone who understands how the military works and who wants to focus on making sure members of the United States Armed Forces are properly trained and equipped.

She said she didn’t believe there would be a problem with him getting a waiver from Congress since federal law requires the Secretary of Defense to have been retired from the military for seven years before being appointed. Mattis has only been retired for three years.

“You will find that even Democratic colleagues, wonderful friends across the aisle, really appreciate his service to the United States and the fact that he understands the global threat that we have,” she noted.

She said that not everyone will be on board with the waiver for Mattis, but most will respect the experience and ability he would bring to the job. “He is a great example of a leader and somebody we can trust to protect our national interests abroad,” Ernst stated.

After the U.N. Security Council’s recent anti-Israel resolution that passed with the United State’s abstention Ernst believes is is time to reconsider how much the United States funds the United Nations.

“I do think that action is necessary, and I think that the United States is now positioned to start flexing our muscles a little bit because we contribute so much to the U.N.,” Ernst said.

“They do have some good programs there that are very important, but we are the largest single contributor to the United Nations and when they go against us and do a resolution against the state of Israel, which is our best ally in the Middle East and the only Democratic nation in the Middle East, then we have to do something about that. I am encouraging that we take a look at this and make sure America’s interests and Israel’s interests are being protected by the United Nations,” Ernst explained.

Ernst also said that she supports the United States moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“I do support that, but I want to take a look at the cost associated with that. Other issues have been raised with that move. I want to make sure that it is working for the Israeli people and that we are able to protect that embassy,” Ernst said. “I also want to make sure that we are not taking away from other embassies around the globe in order to do that.”

Ernst also believes that progress will be made on the life issue in Congress, but that there should be tempered expectations.

“I think we are going to be able to make progress, but understanding that even in our Republican caucus there are some members that don’t fully support all of those initiatives. There are still some pro-choice members out there. So we are making progress, I am a firm believer in life and I will continue to work for the unborn,” Ernst said.

Watch her economic forum in Indianola (an archive from the live stream on Facebook):

Watch her Q&A in Winterset:

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