Tweet claiming Hinson and Miller-Meeks denied Iowans broadband needs context

Former Congressman, Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, sent a tweet that said Reps. Hinson and Miller-Meeks should be replaced in 2022 for denying rural Iowans broadband. While the two voted no on this bill, their previous time in the Iowa Legislature shows that they’ve provided broadband opportunities in the past.

Tweet+claiming+Hinson+and+Miller-Meeks+denied+Iowans+broadband+needs+context

Lauren White, Politics Reporter


PolitiFact Iowa is a project of The Daily Iowan’s Ethics & Politics Initiative and PolitiFact to help you find the truth in politics.


Edited by Lyle Muller and Caleb McCullough

If your time is short: 

  • Former U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, posted on Twitter that U.S. Reps. Hinson and Miller-Meeks, both Republicans from Iowa, denied rural Iowans broadband by voting no on the Infrastructure Investment Act.
  • Hinson said she voted no because of an uncertain estimate of how much the bill would cost Iowans, while Miller-Meeks said she supported an original infrastructure plan, but not what she called a partisan version that excluded Republican opinion. 
  • Both congresswomen voted for rural broadband expansion funding when they were in the Iowa Legislature.

The day the Infrastructure Investment Act spending bill was passed in the U.S. House, former U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, posted a tweet saying Republican Reps. Ashley Hinson and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, both of Iowa, denied rural Iowans broadband by voting no on the bill:

“The NO votes cast by Hinson and Miller-Meeks on the infrastructure bill (13 Republicans voted yes) is a powerful reason to replace them in ‘22. Denying rural Iowans broadband alone shows how terribly partisan these two are.”

In an interview with The Daily Iowan on Nov. 19, Loebsack said he brought up broadband specifically as much of the money funding broadband in the bill will come from the Energy and Commerce Committee on which he served while in the House. 

“I didn’t stay long enough, obviously, to see the fruits of my own labor. But I have some personal interest in this but it’s also incredibly important for Iowans,” Loebsack said. 

But did voting no, along with Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, on the infrastructure mean Hinson and Miller-Meeks wanted to deny Iowans broadband, as the comment implies? The answer requires context and explanation.

Of the $1.2 trillion defined in the bill, Hinson said in a statement, she supports the $650 billion of existing spending that would be reauthorized. If it was this spending alone, she said Iowans an herself would support the bill.

Hinson does not support the $550 billion in new spending and said that this bill adds too much additional spending for items aside from the physical infrastructure Iowans care most about, without fully paying for them.

“That’s not how you get things done for the American people. You do not create a legislative ultimatum by tossing trillions of hardworking Americans’ money up in the air like Monopoly money. That’s Washington gamesmanship at its absolute worst and the very definition of chaos and dysfunction that Iowans sent me here to fight against,” Hinson said in the statement.

Hinson and Miller-Meeks were two of 206 House members who voted against the bill. Those voting no included six progressive Democrats who wanted the measure to be tied to the Build Back Better Act, Biden’s larger social spending package. Thirteen Republicans in the House voted for the bill.

Of the entire $1.2 trillion package, $100 million will be allocated to each state for broadband. According to The New York Times, the bill is being paid for by repurposing jobless benefit money and using untouched small business loan funds and other pandemic relief funds.

In a press release following the vote, Miller-Meeks said she has been calling for a fully funded bipartisan bill that would improve bridges, roads, broadband, locks, dams and the electric grid. She listed broadband as a priority twice in her press release, despite her eventual vote. 

Miller-Meeks said in the press release that she did not support the Infrastructure bill because it was tied to the Build Back Better Act, which she said had no Republican input. 20 Senate Republicans voted in favor of the bill, including Iowa’s own, Sen. Chuck Grassley. The House took separate votes on the two measures, passing the infrastructure bill on Nov. 8 and the social spending package on Nov. 19

Loebsack said the reasons Miller-Meek and Hinson gave for voting no did not make sense to him. He said voting against the bill meant opposing all aspects of it. He said he singled out Miller-Meeks and Hinson, rather than Feenstra, because they are the representatives from the areas he is most familiar with in Iowa. 

“That was a standalone vote. There were 13 Republicans who voted for that bill who had the courage to vote for that bill. But Miller-Meeks and Hinson are not among those 13 Republicans. And that’s what’s unfortunate,” Loebsack said. 

Miller-Meeks, who succeeded Loebsack in Iowa’s Second Congressional District seat in January, had said she supported the original Infrastructure spending bill that the Senate passed in August. 

“We could have passed a clean infrastructure package already on a bipartisan basis like the Senate did and found reasonable ways to pay for it. Instead, the majority decided to play politics and hold good ideas hostage to push through their agenda in a partisan manner,” Miller-Meeks said in her press release. 

Broadband was only one aspect of the Senate and House-approved infrastructure bill. Also included were funds for roads, bridges, water, public transportation, airports, cyber security and tackling climate change. 

Added context comes from 2019 when Hinson and Miller-Meeks were in the Iowa Legislature — Hinson in the House and Miller-Meeks in the Senate. Hinson and Miller-Meeks voted yes on a nonpartisan Empower Rural Iowa Act, which Feenstra managed as a state senator at that time, that created incentives for broadband providers in Iowa to improve service and developed a fund to administer broadband grants for service providers who bring broadband to rural areas. 

Empower Rural Iowa was an initiative through the Iowa Economic Development Authority to invest in rural towns in the state. 

Our ruling

Dave Loebsack wrote on his existing Twitter account that Hinson and Miller-Meeks denied rural Iowans broadband by voting no on the infrastructure bill. That happened in this instance. And, while Miller-Meeks said she supported the original Senate-passed infrastructure bill, she still cast her no vote on the bill before her.

But both congresswomen voted when members of the Iowa House in 2019 in favor of an Iowa bill to increase rural broadband funding. With more than just broadband in the infrastructure package, and given Miller-Meeks’ and Hinson’s previous records in the Iowa Legislature supporting rural broadband funding, we rate this statement to be Half True.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article used quotes from Hinson’s floor speech regarding the Build Back Better Act, indicating they were her comments on the infrastructure bill. The article has been updated to reflect Hinson’s comments correctly. 


Sources

Tweet by Dave Loebsack for Congress Twitter account

The Daily Iowan Interview with former Dave Loebsack, Nov. 19, 2021 

Gov. Kim Reynolds, Governors Empower Rural Iowa Initiative, December 2019 

Iowa House File 772, May 20, 2019

Press release, Miller-Meeks Statement on Second Reconciliation Bill, Nov. 19, 2021

Floor remarks from Ashley Hinson, Speaking on House Floor in Opposition of Democrats Reconciliation Bill, Nov. 5, 2021

The Daily Iowan, Iowa delegates split on Biden’s infrastructure agenda, Oct. 17, 2021

Congressional Budget Office, “Senate Amendment 2137 to H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” Aug. 5, 2021

The White House, Fact Sheet: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, Nov. 6, 2021

U.S. Congress, H.R. 3684, Nov. 11, 2021

Iowa Senate Journal from April 24, 2019

Iowa House Journal from April 23, 2019 

The New York Times, Paying for the infrastructure bill: The plan relies on unused relief money to cover some of the cost, Aug. 2, 2021

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