DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, during a conference call with local media on Thursday, told The Iowa Torch that if Senate Democrats succeed in eliminating the filibuster for two voting rights bills they support, she will not support Republicans eliminating it when they are in the majority.
“Well, I don’t support eliminating the filibuster, and neither did the very Democrats that are, you know, pounding the pavement now trying to get rid of the filibuster,” she said. “Just several years ago, Chuck Schumer was quite insistent that if Republicans broke the filibuster, it would be a doomsday for democracy. He said that that would turn our system into a banana republic. I would love for Chuck Schumer to answer what is different today.”
In 2013, the late former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nv., implemented “the nuclear option” to end the filibuster for judicial appointments except for Supreme Court appointments.
In 2017, Senate Republicans under the leadership of then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., ended the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations.
Ernst pointed out that President Joe Biden opposed ending the filibuster when he was in the U.S. Senate.
“Just a few years ago, we know that President Joe Biden as well, when he was Senator Joe Biden, he also insisted that this would be an absolute disaster to get rid of the Senate filibuster,” she argued.
Biden has said he supports ending the filibuster to enact legislation that essentially federalizes voting laws.
Ernst also pointed out that many U.S. Senators who signed a bipartisan letter opposing ending the filibuster a few years ago support it now.
“So I hope they don’t go down this path. And I honestly believe that Chuck Schumer won’t be able to get the Democrats there,” Ernst said, pointing out that U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., oppose ending the filibuster.
“If they open the floodgates, then it could be that in future generations, additional items get taken out as well. I imagine if they get rid of the filibuster, they’re just simply going to get rid of the filibuster. It won’t just be for voting rights. It will be for everything. They will look to do everything on a simple majority basis, exactly as the House does. But it does open the floodgates,” she argued.
“We don’t want to say the floodgates opened. The Senate exists for the purpose of cooling down the legislation that comes over from the House. This way, impulsive passions are not causing our constituents to go into an unstable situation. We write laws, and those laws have to be followed by our constituents. If those laws are changing at every whim of the congressional delegations every year or two, we would not have a stable form of government nor a stable United States. So we have to be the clearer, calmer heads in the United States Senate. Undoing the Senate filibuster would cause a very, very bad consequence for our country as a whole,” she added.
During the press call, Ernst also called for a full accounting of aid sent to Afghanistan that the Biden Administration has allowed to flow through the Taliban.
“On December 22, 2021, quietly and without any fanfare, the Biden administration issued licenses to override restrictions against sending U.S. taxpayer money through the Taliban and Haqqani Network. These waivers allow money to flow through the Taliban and the Haqqani Islamic terrorist network in hopes that it will aid the Afghan people who are suffering. I’m very concerned these waivers are lacking adequate control or accountability mechanisms to ensure U.S. taxpayer money doesn’t end up in terrorist coffers,” she said.
Ernst said she believes that the Biden Administration should work with the United Nations or NGO to distribute food, medicine, and vaccines instead of “pallets of cash.”
She organized a letter Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen signed by 14 of her Senate colleagues calling for an accounting of taxpayer money sent.
“We write to express significant concerns over the recent announcement from the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control’s (OFAC) on the issuance of General Licenses (GLs) authorizing the flow of U.S. taxpayer dollars through the Taliban and the Haqqani network. While we agree widespread famine and denial of rights to Afghan women and girls are immediate problems to address with humanitarian aid and assistance, OFAC’s sweeping authorization risks too much U.S. taxpayer money flowing through the Taliban or the Haqqani network to fund an excessive, ill-fated, or wasteful list of services such as activities to support the rule of law by the Taliban, education exchanges in a country that now devalues education for women and girls, and endangered species research,” they wrote.
“Furthermore, OFAC does not outline control mechanisms to ensure funds do not end up in the Taliban’s coffers. As these licenses stand, the Administration’s wide latitude and unclear enforcement mechanisms risk the American taxpayer funding the world’s most dangerous foreign terrorist organization,” the letter continues. “We call on this administration to stand by its promise to not remove financial sanctions against the Taliban unless they changed their governing policies, denied safe harbor to terrorists, and guaranteed the fundamental human rights of Afghan women and girls. Clearly, they have not met those conditions.”
Ernst and her colleagues request detailed responses to the following information by no later than February 11, 2022:
- A listing of total funds provided by the U.S. to each GL issued by OFAC related to humanitarian assistance, other support, and trade with Afghanistan.
- The total amount and percentage of funds collected by the Taliban and Haqqani network in the form of a tax, fee, or import duty.
- The total humanitarian aid funding the U.S. has sent Afghanistan since August 31, 2021.
Read the letter below:D5067CF11A788CA60AFB2C6649EBC0FB.2022.01---ofac-money-to-taliban-citations