Ernst addresses concerns about Ukraine aid in Harlan visit
At a town hall Saturday in Harlan, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst addressed issues facing veterans as well as her concerns over Ukraine aid actually making it to the people there who need it.
Paul Arnold asked the senator about friends that have to choose between medical retirement or VA compensation.
“Why can’t they still receive both? It wasn’t their choice to be medically retired out of service.”
Ernst said this is the concurrent receipt issue and they are still trying to work through that in Congress.
“This has been a big issue and there's a lot of debate surrounding it and there has not been the right formulary that's been developed,” Ernst said. “It's something that we're going to continue to work on with the Veterans Affairs committee.”
Sherri Webb addressed the need for more VA homes.
“My husband has Alzheimer's and he served and retired from military and so the closest one is Marshalltown,” Webb said. “Is there any hope of getting more than one in the state of Iowa?”
Ernst said she thought it would be a great step forward if there could be more than one in the state of Iowa and said the one in Marshalltown is actually a state Veterans Home.
“I know that at my town hall in Glenwood the issue was brought up because we do have the Glenwood Resource Center that will be available coming available after 2024 that perhaps there could be a veteran's home established there as well,” Ernst said. “It would have to be worked out between the state and the federal government because it is a state asset. It is possible that the state could establish a separate Veterans Home from Marshalltown in the western part of the state and that would be up to the state to determine that.”
The carbon pipeline issue was addressed by Mary Powell and the lack of transparency in finding out what the hazards are of the pipeline.
“I’ve asked for information related to the hazards of this pipeline and they refused to provide any information whatsoever,” Powell said. “They don't respond to the questions. I know they've done studies.”
Ernst said it's not federal jurisdiction.
“As you mentioned perhaps the hazards or something that could be looked at from a federal entity like through the EPA,” she said. “So I don't have an answer for you today because it's not in like I said that. Pipelines itself were not under the jurisdiction of the federal government.”
Another issue addressed at the town hall was the support of Ukraine.
“I do believe in supporting Ukraine, but I do think that it has to be smart,” Ernst said. “We have to have transparency. We have to know where that equipment is going because when we talk about billions of dollars that are being sent to Ukraine, we're not actually sending cash to Ukraine. We are sending military platforms to Ukraine.”
Ernst said she’s been asking the Department of Defense for the breakdown of equipment being sent to Ukraine.
“What we're sending to Ukraine and we assign a dollar figure to that equipment, it's stuff that we don't use anymore and we're sending,” she said.