Rep. Hinson responds to criticism on Upper Mississippi lock and dam funding

Rep. Ashley Hinson. (Radio Iowa file photo)

By Matt Kelley, Radio Iowa
Iowa Congresswoman Ashley Hinson is defending her statement that “we” secured $829 million in funding for locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River.

Hinson, a Republican from Marion, voted against the Democrat-backed infrastructure package, but she was part of a bipartisan group that worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the lock and dam funding.

“I support and I’ve advocated for targeted infrastructure investments like this one,” Hinson says. “The infrastructure package in the House wasn’t targeted and it was tied to trillions of dollars in additional spending. This is where we are, it passed, and if there’s federal money up for grabs, I’m absolutely going to fight as hard as I can to make sure Iowa’s tax dollars are reinvested back home.” In November, Hinson called the infrastructure bill “socialist” and “spending at its worst.”

In today’s conference call with Iowa reporters, Hinson responded to a potential Democratic rival who claimed she was taking credit for funding she voted against. “If the federal government is going to spend money, it’s been allocated, I want it to be spent in Iowa, not elsewhere,” Hinson says. “So, if there’s federal money on the table, do you think I’m going to sit back and let that go to states like California and New York? Hell, no. I’m going to make sure as much of it comes back to Iowa as possible and that’s exactly what I did with my colleagues.”

Hinson was part of a panel, along with Republican Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and several Democrats, who appealed to the Corps for the lock and dam investment. “I worked with a bipartisan group of my colleagues in asking the Army Corps to prioritize these upgrades,” Hinson says. “I think it goes without saying that I’m always going to fight for what’s best for our communities.”

More than 60% of America’s grain exports travel through the Mississippi’s lock and dam system, what Hinson calls a “massive economic engine for the entire state.”

State Senator Liz Mathis is running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Hinson, and released this statement:

“By voting against the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Ashley Hinson put Washington politics ahead of Iowans. It’s inexcusable that instead of doing her job and working to improve Iowa’s roads and bridges, expand broadband access, and improve our supply chain on the Mississippi River, so our farmers and manufacturers can get goods to market, she’s simply trying to mislead her constituents and cover up her vote against these critical priorities. Northeast Iowa deserves a representative who will work across the aisle to get things done, not play partisan politics then lie about it.”