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Joni Ernst ‘appalled’ by budget process

Sen. Joni Ernst is expressing frustration with the proposed $1.3 trillion budget deal Congress hopes to reach before a Friday night deadline, including the lack of a fix to protect young “Dreamers” from deportation.

Asked about stumbling blocks in the way of passage of the budget package to avert a government shutdown, Ernst voiced concern with the spending level and having too little time to study the 2,232-page document.

She also is concerned the package does not address the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who entered the country as minors but are temporarily protected from deportation by DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, “which is such an important issue for many of us.”

“What they are trying to do is take out anything that might be controversial. At least that’s what has been expressed to us,” Ernst told reporters Thursday.

“I don’t see a DACA fix as being so controversial anymore,” the Iowa Republican continued. “We have to find a pathway forward for our DACA recipients. It’s disappointing that we’re not seeing that in the legislation.”

Ernst, who said she was “appalled” by the budget process, couldn’t predict the outcome for the budget package.

“We’re hearing from folks all over the board,” she said. “People could be pushing back because the process is broken, and they haven’t been involved in the decision-making. We may have other members who simply say a DACA fix is not included ‘and I’m not going to support it.’ Others will say there’s no funding for the wall, for border security, so they’ll vote against it.”

It’s a “huge concern” that the budget process has been “left up to those big decision-makers in leadership, and there has been no inclusion of individual members.”

“Voters in the state of Iowa did not send me to make jump decisions about really large packages that I haven’t been involved in putting together,” the freshman senator said.