… If you want to try to understand the Veteran’s Administration and veteran health care system, there is no one on capitol hill better versed in the system’s problems and positive point. The retired Lt. Colonel in the Iowa National Guard is as good as it gets in [answering] questions and seeking solutions.

“We continue to make progress and the VA MISSION Act is part of that, but we’re a long way from getting it right,” said Ernst. The VA MISSION Act, a piece of recent legislation with Ernst’s signature on it, gives veterans the right to be treated in their local hospitals if they don’t think the big VA hospitals are giving them the care they need. It also addresses veteran suicide with peer counselors, life coaches and professional psychiatrists.

“No one is better equipped to meet the needs of a troubled veteran than a veteran who has successfully dealt with the same problems,” she said. Rebuilding the military after eight years of the previous administration dismantling it is part of the solution to veteran health care said Ernst.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Chris Downey expanded on Ernst’s remarks on telemedicine by asking about bringing broadband to rural areas. “Broadband is a huge issue for a state like ours,” said Sen. Ernst.  “Traditionally, we think of infrastructure as highways and locks and dams, but broadband is an important part of our nation’s infrastructure.”  She mentioned the President’s infrastructure plan that includes a push for broadband for rural America.

Ernst said she has also been encouraged about the changes in how the [Environmental Protection Agency] does its business. “We re-authorized the Safe Drinking Water Act without the kind of overreach the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) had on farming and farmers,” she said. “The President’s announcement about E-15 is a huge boost to renewable fuels and Iowa’s corn production.”

Asked about moving some agencies out of Washington, D.C., she said the “Swamp Act” has been introduced, [which] would place the U.S.D.A. in Iowa or the Department of the Interior in Wyoming.

Jackie Maddy had a list of concerns, including the $21 trillion national debt…“Instead of legitimate budgets, we do continuing resolutions that force omnibus spending,” said Sen. Ernst. “It is a terrible way to run a business or a country. School boards, cities, counties, states all have to have certified budgets, but the federal government ignores what everybody else has to do.”

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