# Antony Blinken

How relationships fortify politics, public service

Marcia Rogers divides her time between Cedar Rapids and Hyde Park in Chicago and is a freelance writer. As a former North Dakotan, she is excited to begin writing about Heidi Heitkamp at the Institute of Politics.

This past year, as an Iowan now living part-time in Hyde Park in the neighborhood of the University of Chicago, I have had the privilege of attending events hosted by the Institute of Politics. Their forums have brought former presidents, noted journalists, dissidents, and political friends and foes into the world of University of Chicago students, giving direct access to thought seekers by these thought leaders.   

I have written about disinformation and misinformation campaigns, interviewed a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and—being new to the world of writing myself—watched in awe as my favorite byliners brought their written work to life on the stage through vibrant student discourse. 

This past Friday, January 20, was another of those “I can’t believe I get to live here” events.

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Joni Ernst voted against more than half of Biden's cabinet

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst has voted against confirming twelve of President Joe Biden’s cabinet appointees, a majority of the 23 cabinet officials who are subject to Senate confirmation. Senators have confirmed 21 cabinet members; Eric Lander is awaiting a vote as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the president has yet to announce a replacement for Neera Tanden, who withdrew her nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

Only ten of the 50 Republican senators have voted against more of Biden’s appointees than Ernst: Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Rick Scott, Tom Cotton, Tommy Tuberville, Bill Hagerty, Rand Paul, Richard Shelby, Marsha Blackburn, and Tim Scott.

Iowa’s senior Senator Chuck Grassley has voted against five of the 21 cabinet members confirmed so far.

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Joni Ernst opposing more Biden nominees than Chuck Grassley

During their six years serving together in Congress, Iowa’s two Republican U.S. senators have rarely differed on matters that came to the Senate floor. But seven weeks into Joe Biden’s presidency, a pattern is emerging: Senator Joni Ernst is more inclined to reject the new president’s nominees than is her senior colleague Chuck Grassley.

In most cases, Ernst has not released any statement explaining her confirmation votes. Her staff have not responded to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries about why she opposed specific nominees or her general approach to evaluating prospective cabinet members.

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