Source: KIOW

By AJ Taylor

Q: U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, you have gone in support of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, also known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which identifies congressional trade policy priorities, establishes new notification, consultation and transparency requirements for the Administration, provides for expedited congressional consideration of trade agreements in order to ensure our trading partners put their best offers on the table, and ultimately strengthens Congress’ voice on a final vote of approval on any negotiated trade agreement. What are your thoughts on this?

 A: “Trade plays an important role in Iowa’s economy, and I’m disappointed that some in Congress are blocking bipartisan legislation to move forward on a trade agenda. Iowa stands to directly benefit by opening up international trade that would boost our agricultural exports, provide new market opportunities and reduce trade barriers for our manufacturers and create more jobs here in the U.S. Importantly, passage of TPA would help to ensure greater transparency so that Iowans are better informed about U.S. trade negotiations and ensure we get the best deals possible.”

Q: Congress passed the first joint 10-year balanced budget resolution for the first time since 2001. What are your thoughts after voting for the Congressional balanced budget?

 A: “This joint Senate-House budget agreement is a necessary roadmap to put Congress on the right path toward restoring fiscal responsibility in Washington. It sets the framework to balance the budget, cut out-of-control spending, and helps grow a stronger economy, all while providing our military with the needed resources to protect our national security.”

“These pro-growth policies are just commonsense, and I’m optimistic about the way in which Washington is getting to work and embracing meaningful reforms that Iowans deserve.”

Q: U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and yourself introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and strengthen the National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP).  The State Partnership Program Enhancement Act of 2015, which has a corresponding bill in the House of Representatives, will permanently codify the SPP into law, increase transparency and oversight, and address deficits in funding, coordination, and reporting. The SPP is a broadly supported, 22 year old program that is designed to promote American interests abroad by establishing cooperative relationships with foreign security forces and other government agencies to provide military-to-military and military-to-civilian training. The SPP takes advantage of the diverse skill sets of the men and women of the National Guard, who serve the United States as civilians, soldiers, airmen to meet unique U.S. security cooperation goals in countries around the world. In the long-term, it provides Combatant Commanders and Ambassadors with capabilities to achieve U.S. objectives and further demonstrates a commitment to building partner capacity abroad. What are your thoughts on this and why are you for this measure?

A: “The State Partnership Program Enhancement Act is an important step forward for the National Guard’s valued relationship building program that encourages increased collaboration with our allies in support of defense security goals. This legislation streamlines the SPP’s process – including ending multi-track funding streams – to make this important program more effective, efficient and ensure its long and successful future.”

OF NOTE:  The State Partnership Program Enhancement Act of 2015 would reauthorize the SPP, which is due to expire in September 2016.  The bipartisan bill would also improve the program by enhancing reporting requirements, consolidating arcane funding mechanisms, and increasing cooperation between the Guard, the State Department, and our allies.

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