Federal budget includes $82 million in earmarks to Iowa

The appropriations bill President Joe Biden signed into law on March 9 includes $74.36 million in federal funding for designated projects in Iowa, Bleeding Heartland’s analysis of a 605-page earmarks list reveals. Another $8 million earmark for Dubuque Flood Mitigation Gates and Pumps was part of the Homeland Security bill Biden signed on March 23, completing work on funding the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year on September 30.

All four Republicans who represent Iowa in the U.S. House—Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-01), Ashley Hinson (IA-02), Zach Nunn (IA-03), and Randy Feenstra (IA-04)—were among the 339 members who approved the “minibus” spending package on March 6. Miller-Meeks, Hinson, and Nunn voted for the second minibus on March 22; Feenstra voted against that package with no public explanation.

Hinson is the only Iowan now serving on the House Appropriations Committee. Her projects will receive a combined $27.54 million; she had requested $37.06 million. Projects submitted by Miller-Meeks will receive about $28.38 million in earmarked funding; she had requested $40.15 million. Earmarks for projects Nunn submitted will total $26.22 million; he had asked for $41.25 million.

The 36 counties in IA-04 will receive none of the earmarked funding, because for the third straight year, Feenstra declined to submit any earmark requests.

U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley have not participated in the earmarks process for some time, so were not responsible for any funding for projects listed below. In addition, before the March 8 vote on final passage, they were among the 32 Republican senators who voted to strip out all of the earmarks. Had that motion succeeded, most of the projects listed below would have received no funding. A partial federal government shutdown would have ensued as well, because House members had already gone home for the weekend by the time the Senate voted on the Consolidated Appropriations Act, and funding for the affected agencies was set to run out within hours.

That said, Ernst and Grassley were part of the 75 to 22 majority that approved the spending bills on the evening of March 8, hours before funding would have run out for the affected agencies. They voted for the second spending package, which passed by 74 votes to 24 a little before 2:00 am on March 23.

The American Society for Civil Engineers broke down the $459 billion allocated in the minibus, which will fund part of the federal government through the end of the 2024 fiscal year on September 30. The package combined six appropriations bills, covering:

  • Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Commerce, Justice, and Science
  • Energy and Water
  • Interior and Environment
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development
  • Military Construction

The Iowa earmarks fell into all of those categories except for military construction. This post groups the spending by type of project, as in Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of the delegation’s earmark requests last year. You can search for earmarks by spending bill in this document, compiled and uploaded by longtime Congressional reporter Jamie Dupree.


Road projects

About half of the earmark funding Miller-Meeks requested was spread across six road projects, all of which received some allocation in the spending bills:

  • $3 million to reconstruct Wisconsin Street in the city of LeClaire (Scott County); Miller-Meeks asked for $6,145,656
  • $2 million to Warren County to resurface part of County Highway G76; Miller-Meeks asked for $4.9 million
  • $3.4 million to the city of DeWitt (Clinton County) “to extend East Industrial Street and related utilities,” connecting to U.S. Highway 30; full earmark request funded
  • $2.5 million to the Jefferson County Secondary Road Department to “provide a safe, paved route for students” in the Pekin School district who live in and around Packwood; full request funded
  • $2 million for the city of Wilton (Cedar and Muscatine counties) for work on the intersection of Highway 6/38 and 5th Street (Old Highway 6) and on 5th Street between Highway 6 and Liberty; full request funded
  • $1 million for the city of Pella (Marion County) to extend University Street, including a new water main for the area; Miller-Meeks asked for $1.5 million

Hinson did not seek any earmarks for road projects in her district.

The federal government will spend $1.5 million to reconstruct part of 8th Street in the city of Altoona (Polk County). Nunn had requested $4.5 million for that project.

Bridge replacement

Only Nunn included a bridge repair project in his earmark requests. The federal government will spend $1.5 million to replace “the existing structurally deficient, narrow, and weight-restricted 91-year-old bridge” on Bevington Park Road in Madison County. Nunn had asked for $2.5 million.


The federal transportation budget will fully fund Nunn’s $4.8 million request for the Appanoose County Community Railroad, “to build a 6-mile rail line to enable 100-car trains to pull in, load, and unload.” Nunn pitched this project as benefiting farmers in the region and other economic development plans in the southern Iowa county.


Wastewater treatment/sewer systems

All six Iowa requests for wastewater treatment earmarks received funding. In five cases, the amount in the final spending bill matched the initial request.

  • $1.75 million for a sewer separation project in Fort Madison (Lee County); Miller-Meeks asked for $5 million
  • $2 million for the city of Mediapolis (Des Moines County) “for modifications to the sewage treatment lagoon system to meet ammonia effluent compliance”; Miller-Meeks request fully funded
  • $1.08 million for the city of Oskaloosa (Mahaska County) to bring the city’s “two wastewater facilities into compliance”; Miller-Meeks request fully funded
  • $1 million for the city of Morning Sun (Louisa County) “to upgrade the city’s wastewater treatment plant to meet final nitrogen and ammonia limits”; Miller-Meeks request fully funded
  • $1 million for the city of Winfield (Henry County) to “upgrade the city’s wastewater treatment plant to comply with ammonia, E. coli effluent limits and dissolved oxygen limits”; Miller-Meeks request fully funded
  • $1 million for wastewater infrastructure in the city of Eldora (Hardin County); Hinson request fully funded

Drinking water or industrial water systems

Hinson and Nunn each requested funding for three projects in this area. All received some federal funding, but less than the full amount for most of the projects.

  • $3 million to help the city of Grinnell (Poweshiek County) replace their current water treatment facility; Hinson asked for $5 million
  • $1 million for the city of Mason City (Cerro Gordo County) “to expand its water infrastructure to reach a large economic development area on the southwest side of the city”; Hinson asked for $2.8 million
  • $1.5 million for the rapidly-growing city of Peosta (Dubuque County); Hinson asked for $2 million
  • $2 million to improve the drinking water system for the city of Minburn (Dallas County); Nunn asked for $4,537,500
  • $2.5 million for water tower and other infrastructure in Bondurant (Polk County); Nunn request fully funded
  • $750,000 to improve water storage and distribution in Ankeny (Polk County); Nunn asked for $2 million

Flood prevention or mitigation

More than a third of the funds Hinson requested fall into this category. As mentioned above, the Dubuque Flood Mitigation Gates and Pumps will receive $8 million in earmarked spending. Hinson asked for $11 million for that project, which is designed to prevent recurring flooding in some Dubuque neighborhoods.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will receive $1 million to update flow frequency data along the Upper Mississippi River. Hinson had asked for $3 million.

Water trails

Iowa Confluence Water Trails will receive $1 million to modernize an aging low-head dam near Fleur Drive in Des Moines. Nunn had asked for $4 million.


One airport in each of the first three House districts will receive earmarked funds through the U.S. Department of Transportation budget.

The Southeast Iowa Regional Airport Authority in Burlington will receive $2 million to rebuild the entrance road. Miller-Meeks asked for $2,484,000.

The Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids will receive $2.5 million for a deicing facility and a snow removal equipment storage facility. That’s the full amount Hinson requested.

The Des Moines International Airport will receive $4 million to expand a deicing apron. Nunn had asked for $6 million.


The federal spending bills fully or partly funded seven of the eight Iowa earmark requests in this area.

  • The University of Iowa’s Department of Physics and Astronomy will receive $1,495,000 to support space technology innovation and education; Miller-Meeks had asked for $2,989,523
  • The North Scott Community School District in Eldridge will receive $2 million to support a planned Regional Innovation Center; Miller-Meeks request fully funded
  • Hawkeye Community College will receive $5 million for a new Smart Automation and Robotics Center; Hinson request fully funded
  • The Four Mounds Foundation in Dubuque will receive $1 million for a workforce training center; Hinson request fully funded
  • Coe College in Cedar Rapids will receive $225,000 for an astrophysics research project; Hinson request fully funded
  • The Des Moines Area Community College will receive $1 million for its Transportation Institute, which trains skilled truck drives; Nunn had asked for $2 million
  • Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa will receive $1 million for its commercial driver training program; Nunn had sought $1.75 million

One Nunn request in this category wasn’t funded. He had sought $250,000 for Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates in Des Moines, which “provides underrepresented youth and recent high school graduates with mentoring, academic tutoring, job training and postsecondary placement.”


The federal budget will fully fund all Iowa earmark requests to support medical or health-oriented facilities. The Lee County Health Department will receive $2,159,000 (the amount Miller-Meeks requested) to build a new EMS bay.

The Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital and Clinics in West Union (Fayette County) will receive $1.1 million to expand and modernize the the maternity health care unit, in line with Hinson’s request.

The Wayne County Hospital in Corydon will receive $2,011,000 for a new dialysis center, as Nunn requested.

The Walnut Creek YMCA in Windsor Heights (Polk County) will receive $1,808,000 (the full amount sought by Nunn) to renovate parts of the building.


These two requests were also fully funded. Hinson asked for $500,000 to support the Clayton County Affordable Housing Project, and Nunn successfully sought $1.6 million to renovate and expand the capacity of Iowa Homeless Youth Centers in Des Moines.


The Sumner Daycare and Learning Center in Sumner (Bremer County) will receive $750,000 to build a stand-alone facility in a child care desert. That’s the full amount Hinson requested.


Hinson’s two requests in this area were fully funded. At the request of the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, she sought $900,000 to help build a holding facility or jail on the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama County.

Hinson also secured a $287,000 earmark to help the Howard County Sheriff’s Department purchase handheld radios and a microwave communications link.

Polk County will receive $750,000 to build a new Sobering Center to provide mental health and substance abuse services. Nunn had asked for $1 million.

Top photo of Hawkeye Community College Automation and Robotics Center, which will receive a $5 million earmark as part of the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Community Development Fund, was first published on the community college’s website.

About the Author(s)

Laura Belin

  • Post much appreciated

    Thanks for all the time and effort put into this post, presenting so much information in readable fashion!. Well-done doesn’t begin to cover it,
    Herb Strentz

  • Sympathies to all the residents of the Fourth District...

    …who would have really liked to have some much-needed public projects funded by earmark dollars, and who did not vote for Feenstra. Of course it’s a very red district. But there are about 90,000 Iowans in that district who voted for Ryan or Bryan, not Randy.