Axne secures derecho relief for farmers, transparency for taxpayers

Rep. Cindy Axne represents Iowa's Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She can be reached at 202-225-5476.

If you’ve kept up with the news the last few weeks, you know Congress has been tackling some big issues.

In recent weeks, I voted to ensure our government has the resources it needs to function and made sure we do not skip paying off the debts that we already have on the books. The House of Representatives has also moved closer to voting on infrastructure legislation that will benefit every Iowan.

While those are some incredibly important priorities, I have been working on other items, some of which you might not have seen in the news, throughout the last month as well.

I recently helped send President Biden a bill that provides $10 billion to help farmers and producers cover crop damage caused by the 2020 derecho and other natural disasters that occurred in 2020 and 2021.

Iowans have been resilient in rebuilding after last year’s devastating storm, and I’ve been making sure our federal disaster programs are helping communities, families and farmers feel whole again.

I’m proud to see this long overdue funding signed into law, and as the only Iowan who voted for this funding, I look forward to seeing it help folks in need.

Another bill I co-sponsored to bring more transparency to Iowa taxpayers was signed into law as well.

We have been using digital technology for decades now, and there is no reason taxpayers shouldn’t be able to see how every tax dollar is being spent, which is why this new legislation ensures all documents that explain how taxpayer dollars are being used will be available online for all to see.

This legislation — the first bill I signed onto this year — is a step in the right direction when it comes to government transparency, and I will continue to fight to make sure public material is accessible to everyone.

I’ve also been busy fighting to keep Iowa’s livestock industry safe. Last week, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined a hearing held before the House Agriculture Committee on the state of the livestock industry.

As a committee member, I had the opportunity to ask Secretary Vilsack what his agency is doing to expand regional cattle processing and to combat the threat of African swine fever (ASF).

Earlier this year, I joined Secretary Vilsack to announce the USDA would allocate $500 million from the American Rescue Plan to expand regional meat processing. While I was proud to be there for the announcement because these resources are desperately needed by our small processers, I’m concerned some of these resources could ultimately benefit the larger packers instead.

Secretary Vilsack said he is working on a way to structure the program that will be used to allocate these resources so they are used in a thoughtful and appropriate way. He also said he is working on beefing up surveillance and detection systems as we begin to see new ASF outbreaks around the world.

ASF is a deadly viral disease that affects swine. If the disease hits the U.S., researchers at Iowa State University have estimated it would case a 40% to 50% reduction in U.S. live hog prices. The only way to protect Iowa’s pork producers is to make sure this virus doesn’t make it to the U.S.

I also had the chance to ask some of the nation’s top economic leaders — U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell — about how the lack of access to child care and paid leave is affecting labor force participation.

I spoke with them at the hearing I held with my colleagues on the House Financial Services Committee.

Secretary Yellen said the U.S. used to have one of the highest women’s labor force participation rates in the world. That has changed radically in recent decades as we have fallen behind other developed countries. This is why I have been working so hard to get funding for child care included in the infrastructure legislation we are working on now, especially as labor shortages have continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

I also asked Chairman Powell about supply chain issues coming off the pandemic that are continuing to hold businesses in Iowa’s Third Congressional District back. Powell said further investments in supply chain issues would make them more efficient.

Although passing infrastructure legislation that can help rebuild Iowa’s bridges and roads, provide working parents child care they need and make sure all Iowans have broadband connectivity is still my priority as we begin to wrap up 2021. I have a broad range of issues I will be working on in Congress to better the lives of Iowans.

Some of these accomplishments may not make a big splash on cable television, or even the front page of your local newspaper, but they will have a direct impact on the everyday lives of Iowans — and their wallets — which is what good legislation is meant to do.

Rep. Cindy Axne of West Des Moines represents Iowa’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She can be reached at 202-225-5476.


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