# Defense



Violence Against Women Act reauthorized in big spending bill

President Joe Biden has signed into law a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill, which funds the federal government through September 30. The president’s action on March 15 ends a cycle of short-term continuing spending resolutions that kept the government operating on spending levels approved during Donald Trump’s administration.

The enormous package combines twelve appropriations bills covering portions of the federal government, as well as an additional $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine and several unrelated pieces of legislation. One of those reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act through 2027, a task that had remained unfinished for years. Congress last reauthorized the 1994 legislation addressing violence against women in 2013, and that authorization expired in 2019.

Iowa’s Senator Joni Ernst was a key negotiator of the final deal on the Violence Against Women Act and celebrated its passage this week.

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Now she tells us: Ernst finds "garbage" tweets disqualifying

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst has voted against seven of President Joe Biden’s nominees so far: Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, United Nations Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

This week the junior Iowa senator announced her opposition to another Biden pick: Colin Kahl for undersecretary of defense for policy. Kahl’s more than qualified for the position. The sticking point for Ernst and many of her Republican colleagues was a surprising one for anyone familiar with former President Donald Trump’s social media presence.

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Joni Ernst learned the wrong lesson from Chuck Grassley

Senator Joni Ernst shouldn’t be in this position.

Given Iowans’ tendency to re-elect incumbents and the state’s rightward drift this past decade, she should be running ten points ahead.

Instead, Iowa’s Senate race is universally seen as a toss-up. Ernst has led in only two polls released since the June primary. Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield has led in fourteen polls during the same period.

Not all of Ernst’s political problems are her own creation. The COVID-19 pandemic and President Donald Trump’s disastrous leadership have put at risk several GOP-held seats that once seemed safe.

But Ernst could have set herself up better to survive a tough environment for her party. Her most important strategic error was not following the example Chuck Grassley set as a 40-something first-term senator.

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Ernst, Grassley silent on reported bounty on U.S. troops in Afghanistan

As Donald Trump’s presidency continues to spawn scandals that would seem farfetched as a movie plot, top Iowa Republicans remain silent whenever possible on news that reflects poorly on their party’s standard-bearer.

The latest shameful example: U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley have said nothing in public about reports indicating a “Russian military intelligence unit offered and paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.”

Ernst’s silence is particularly striking, since she built her political brand on (and still frequently invokes) her career of service in the Iowa National Guard.

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An Iowa angle on Trump's clash with military leaders

Herb Strentz: Today’s reality show from the Oval Office may be following plotlines imagined by 1960s authors with ties to the leading newspapers of Iowa and Minnesota. -promoted by Laura Belin

A provocative “Iowa angle” links fiction of the 1960s to fact in the 2020 dispute between President Donald Trump and several of the nation’s current or former military leaders. Trump advocated using military force to quell national unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African American, at the hands of Minneapolis police.

In its June 8 newsletter for subscribers, the well-respected international magazine The Economist characterized Trump’s call to arms as America’s “worst civil-military crisis for a generation, one that threatens to do enduring harm to democratic norms and the standing and cohesion of its armed forces.”

The Iowa angle goes back to the John F. Kennedy era and best-selling novels by former writers at The Des Moines Register and the Minneapolis Tribune, who wrote about scenarios of presidential instability and misuse of the military on American soil.

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