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FACT CHECK: Braley Ad Claims Ernst Not Cutting Pork

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The Claim:

“In the state Senate, Ernst never sponsored a bill to cut pork. Never wrote one measure to slash spending. In fact, The Iowa Republican said she backed measures to actually increase spending.”


Iowa State Senate File, The Iowa Republican


In a now infamous ad, Joni Ernst made cutting spending a centerpiece of her campaign by comparing her skills cutting pork to her experience castrating hogs.

But Bruce Braley’s campaign ad argues Ernst’s legislative record shows no evidence of cutting government spending.

We reviewed the bills and amendments Ernst sponsored during her four years in the Iowa Senate and found several of note in assessing this claim.

Sen. Ernst sponsored SF105 in 2011, requiring the Department of Transportation to conduct a cost-benefit analysis before building any new rest areas. That same year, Sen. Ernst also proposed a state hiring freeze (SF223). We also found proposals from Sen. Ernst to require drug testing for welfare recipients (SF90) and to check social security documents to prevent illegal immigrants from getting state aid (SF104), both intended to cut waste from those programs.

Braley’s campaign communications director, Jeff Giertz, argues none of those proposals guarantee any direct cuts in state spending. Giertz points out requiring a cost-benefit analysis, drug screening welfare recipients and performing social security screenings would likely cost taxpayers more than any potential savings.

Legislation that directly cuts state spending is rare, as most of that process takes place in budget negotiations and through amendments.

Ernst took part in budget negotiations as a member of the Senate Appropriations and Education committees and consistently voted against democratic spending proposals in that process. However, Ernst’s record shows she never proposed an amendment to an appropriations bill, or any bill, that would cut funding in any way.

The second part of Braley’s campaign ad cites a Republican online newsletter that claims many of Ernst’s proposals “actually increase spending”

We found several proposals from Ernst’s record that directly increased state spending. Those include establishing a preschool grant program (SF223), increasing tax credits for veterans (SF100) and increasing spending to repair roadways (SF2156), to name a few.

Conclusion: The main crux of this ad centers on Joni Ernst’s efforts, or lack thereof, to cut waste and slash spending.

The effectiveness of Ernst’s proposals are debatable, however, the intent behind these proposals is clearly aimed at reducing spending and waste. The ad claims Ernst never proposed a single piece of legislation to cut spending and waste but these proposals show otherwise.

We rate this claim mostly false.

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