Iowa’s U.S. senators, representatives, want more aid for Ukraine

In interviews with The Daily Iowan this week, members of Iowa’s congressional delegation say they want to see more U.S. aid to Ukraine, and that Russian President Vladimir Putin should be investigated for war crimes.


Gabby Drees

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, talks with constituents at an early morning meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, April 6, 2022.

Rylee Wilson, Managing Editor

Members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation agree with President Joe Biden’s call to investigate Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes and advocate for sending lethal aid to Ukraine.

The Daily Iowan spoke to Iowa’s senators and representatives this week in Washington, D.C. Symbols of support for Ukraine are everywhere in the nation’s capital, and many members of Congress wear the Ukrainian flag next to the American flag on their lapels. 

Beyond symbolic displays of support, Congress and the White House are tasked with deciding how to support Ukraine without escalating tensions. The Pentagon approved an additional $300 million in military aid to the embattled country this week. 

On Monday, Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin should be tried for war crimes for reports of mass killings of civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. 

In an interview with the DI, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said she agrees with Biden on this point. 

“I think that every member that you talk to in the United States Senate would agree with President Biden that Putin is a war criminal,” Ernst told the DI

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, speaks in a Daily Iowan interview at the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Gabby Drees)

Ernst has advocated for increased U.S. lethal aid to Ukraine, calling on the U.S. to facilitate the transfer of Polish fighter jets to Ukraine. The plan was rejected by the Biden Administration for risking escalating tensions with Russia. 

“I think any time a NATO partner or the United States does anything, I think Putin is going to consider it escalatory,” Ernst said. “But the equipment that we have sent to Ukraine already is already taking down Russian jets.” 

Last month, Ernst led a bipartisan group of senators on a trip to Germany and Poland to meet with U.S. military leaders and Ukrainian refugees. 

“What I took away from that experience was not only the heartbreak that so many Ukranians are going through and the difficulties they are facing, but that America stands united in opposition against Vladimir Putin and the Russians and what they are doing to a sovereign and free country,” she said. 

Ernst’s proposals have garnered support among her Republican colleagues. Sen. Chuck Grassley signed on to Ernst’s letter to the president urging him to allow the transfer of Polish fighter jets. 

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, said she is also in support of more aid to Ukraine, and would push for NATO allies to investigate possible war crimes committed by Russia. 

Miller-Meeks said that if Russia overtakes Ukraine, it won’t stop there, and will move to take Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Romania, and possibly Finland. “[I’m] fully in support of the sanctions that have been put in place,” Miller-Meeks told the DI. “They should have been put in place earlier, in January, maybe even earlier than that. Because now we have to look only at Ukraine, we have to look at all the other countries around Ukraine. 

Rep. Cindy Axne, Iowa’s lone Democratic representative, said sanctions are working, and it is important not to escalate situations too quickly, though aid like Ernst suggested could be necessary later.

U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, speaks in a Daily Iowan interview at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (Gabby Drees)

“If there are war crimes occurring, which, from what I’m seeing right now, obviously, we have some situations,” Axne said. “We may need to escalate a bit and do what the Senator said, which is bring in some air support.” 

Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, said in addition to military aid, more humanitarian aid is needed in Ukraine. She said she has met with two families seeking to adopt children from Ukraine. 

“It is absolutely essential that we welcome people to Iowa who are refugees from Ukraine,” she said. 

Hinson said the images from Ukraine bear asking if Russia has committed war crimes. 

“If so, he does need to be held accountable. I would argue that I think the world is holding President Putin accountable and we are doing everything we can,” she said.