Joni Ernst, who’s running as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, held her first campaign event after returning from active duty with the Iowa National Guard.
Ernst addressed a crowded room, many veterans, at The Machine Shed restaurant in Urbandale, a suburb of Des Moines. During the speech she didn’t mention her opponent, Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley. He’s been the target of a new $2.4 million ad campaign accusing him of missing the majority of the Veterans Affairs Committee hearings during the two years he served on it. Speaking with reporters after the event, Ernst says that’s up to Braley to refute.
“Well, I think he should have been attending those hearings, obviously. I heard in one account he had to skip a meeting to go to another meeting and he didn’t actually go to that meeting,” said Ernst. “He has to justify why he wasn’t there at a time when our VA was failing our veterans.”
Ernst said Braley has to justify why he wasn’t there at a time when the VA was failing the countries veterans. She says the long wait times and substandard care has not been a problem in Iowa’s VA facilities. Meanwhile, the group Veterans for Braley says the congressman has fought across party lines to improve veterans’ disability benefits and passed a tax cuts for small businesses to hire veterans.
“Bruce has been an outspoken voice for Iowa veterans,” said Ron Haley, a member of Veterans for Braley. “He fought the Pentagon to get back-pay that was denied to hundreds of Iowa National Guard members.”