# Congress



Zach Nunn has a lot to learn about federal food programs

Fresh off his assignment to the House Agriculture Committee, U.S. Representative Zach Nunn revealed a fundamental misunderstanding of who benefits from federal food assistance programs.

Although the first-term Republican told an interviewer that nutritional assistance goes “largely to blue state communities,” one federal food program alone serves nearly 10 percent of Nunn’s constituents in Iowa’s third Congressional district.

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Will Iowans' loyalty to Kevin McCarthy be rewarded?

UPDATE: All four Iowans received coveted committee assignments on January 11, which are discussed here. Original post follows.

The U.S. House spent most of last week mired in the longest-running attempt to elect a speaker since before the Civil War. Iowa’s four Republicans stood behind their caucus leader Kevin McCarthy from the first ballot on January 3 to the fifteenth ballot after midnight on January 7.

Iowa’s House delegation lacks any long-serving members; three are beginning their second terms, and Representative Zach Nunn was elected for the first time in 2022.

As House members receive committee assignments later this month, where the Iowans land could signal how much influence they have with GOP leadership.

Traditionally, members of Congress who publicly oppose their party’s leader are punished. But McCarthy’s team made so many concessions in search of votes for speaker that several Republican holdouts could be rewarded with prime committee assignments—arguably at the expense of those who were loyal to McCarthy throughout.

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Ernst moves up in GOP leadership ranks

As the new Congress began its work on January 3, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst moved up a notch on the Senate Republican leadership team.

Ernst had held the fifth-ranking leadership position, Senate Republican Conference vice chair, for the last four years. She now serves as chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-ranking position for the minority caucus. Her predecessor, Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, opted not to seek re-election in 2022.

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Best of Bleeding Heartland's original reporting in 2022

As the new year begins, I want to highlight some of the investigative reporting, in-depth analysis, and accountability journalism published first or exclusively here.

Some newspapers and websites put their best original reporting behind a paywall for subscribers, or limit access to a few free articles a month. I’m committed to keeping all Bleeding Heartland content—which includes some 570 articles and commentaries from 2022 alone—available to all, regardless of ability to pay.

As always, I’m grateful for readers who value this kind of work on Iowa politics. Tips on stories that may be worth pursuing are always welcome.

To receive links to Bleeding Heartland articles and commentaries directly via email, subscribe to the free Evening Heartland newsletter. Subscribers to my Substack (which is also free) receive audio files and recaps for every episode of KHOI Radio’s “Capitol Week,” a 30-minute program on which Dennis Hart and I discuss recent Iowa political news.

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Miller-Meeks used proxy voting five times after railing against policy

“[I]t is time for the House to end the mask mandate for fully vaccinated members and bring an end [to] proxy voting,” U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks tweeted in May 2021.

“Now that we are lifting the requirement for fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks, we should bring an end to proxy voting and return in-person work!” the Republican representing Iowa’s second district tweeted in June 2021.

“It’s time for the House to follow the science, lift the mask mandate in chamber, end proxy voting, and return to normal,” Miller-Meeks tweeted in February 2022.

Yet over the past two years Miller-Meeks signed five letters designating Republican colleagues to cast votes on her behalf. Most recently, she used a proxy for the final House floor votes of the year, recorded late last week.

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