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U.S. Sen. Ernst visits Charles City’s Zoetis plant

United States Senator Joni Ernst takes time out of her busy schedule to talk to the media after a tour of Zoetis in Charles City on Friday. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra
U.S. Sen Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, talks to the media after a tour of Zoetis in Charles City on Friday. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra
By Kelly Terpstra,

Joni Ernst is a busy woman.

The United States senator from Iowa makes the rounds in the Hawkeye State each year and keeps a close eye on her itinerary.

This is her fourth year of touring each of Iowa’s 99 counties since she was elected in 2014 and became Iowa’s junior senator in 2015.

Ernst stopped by Zoetis in Charles City Friday to tour the pharmaceutical plant, which is the world’s largest producer of medicine and vaccinations for animals. Ernst spoke briefly to the media after the private walk-through of the plant and talked about the 99-county tour, which was pioneered by Iowa’s other senator, Chuck Grassley.  

“It is definitely something that we do in Iowa. I would still stay that we’re a little bit of an anomaly. Not every politician will do this across the nation,” said Ernst, 48.

Grassley started the commitment to visit each of the 99 counties annually when he was elected as U.S. senator for the state of Iowa in 1981. Now known as “The Full Grassley,” the tour has been emulated by numerous politicians since.

Ernst said Floyd County was the 96th county on her travels across the state this year.

She began Friday in Clarion in Wright County, where she visited Hagie Manufacturing, a producer of farm sprayers and various crop protection equipment. Ernst also visited the 248th Aviation Support Battalion of the Iowa Army National Guard in Waterloo later on Friday.

Ernst was a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard prior to being elected senator.

The last time Ernst visited Charles City was in September 2017 when she held a town hall meeting at the North Grand auditorium.

Ernst said she was impressed by her visit to Zoetis and understands the challenges that any business can face.

“We’re here today with Zoetis and looking at their inoculation processes and some of their global marketing and just really exciting things,” said Ernst.

“This was fascinating. It’s very good for me to see and understand what some of the challenges are. Some of the challenges that we heard today are the same that we hear many other rural communities have.”

With the midterm election on Tuesday, Ernst stressed how important it is for everyone to cast their vote.

“It is an important election cycle. Of course, we have such a slim majority in the United States Senate. There is a little bit of nervousness or anxiousness on the House side to see how that goes. But it is a very important election because we need people out there voting on what their thoughts are — the direction of the nation,” said Ernst.

Ernst said the recent confirmation of Brett Cavanaugh to the Supreme Court “created quite an uproar.”

“So, a lot of people are very excited. … What we want to see is civility coming back to politics and lot of Republicans across the state have stated that’s mobilized them to get out and vote. We don’t want to see mob rule out there,” Ernst said.

Asked about the thousands of migrants who are headed toward the United States’ southern border, Ernst said it was a matter of legality.

“We certainly we do need to protect our nation and that means protecting our borders as well, she said. “We’ve entrusted those border and border patrol security agents to make sure that people aren’t just running across the border. We need to make sure they are legally migrating into the United States.”

Ernst said President Trump is working with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to put a plan in place that is enforceable. She also said that means moving troops to the southern border.

“Secretary Mattis has begun that initiative and utilizing those troops as backups — maybe doing logistical activities for border patrol. They cannot do law enforcement activities, but they certainly can free up border patrol so they can focus on law enforcement activities,” said Ernst.

Ernst also responded to a question about President Trump’s effort to end birthright citizenship of undocumented immigrants.

“I think it’s something that needs further discussion,” Ernst said. “We have to understand the legality — what will the president do as his executive order? Is it a way it can be corrected in Congress? Is there a law that can be written?” said Ernst.

“Certainly what we have seen in past years are individuals that will come to the United States as almost a type of tourism. They’ll come in and have their children here.”

The number of babies born to unauthorized immigrants in the United States in 2014 was 275,000 according to Pew Research Center.

“So, do we continue to grant U.S. citizenship to those that are born in the United States? Or is it something that needs to be reconsidered? But we do have to have those discussions on the legality of anything we do. How does that affect the Constitution? I think there’s a lot more that we need to think about before we just say, no more,” said Ernst.