Q&A | Rep. Ashley Hinson talks about parents’ rights, student loans

During an interview with The Daily Iowan on Tuesday Hinson talked about her work with the Parents’ Bill of Rights bill that passed the U.S. House on Friday.


Matt Sindt

U.S. Rep Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, speaks during Ashley Hinson’s BBQ Bash at the Linn County Fairgrounds Sunday, August 28, 2022.

Liam Halawith, Politics Editor

WASHINGTON — The Daily Iowan was in the nation’s capital Monday, where reporters met with U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson and asked her about Parental Rights, Bipartisanship, and Student Loans. 

Editor’s Note: This Interview is edited for length and clarity. 

The Daily Iowan: So first, I want to talk a little bit about parental rights. I know you’ve been a big champion of that, you know, in your home district has been a very hot topic. And then, you know, last Friday, there was the vote on the parent’s bill of rights that you did introduce last year. So can you tell me a little bit about your thought process behind supporting the bill? And what are some of the parts that you thought were really important in the bill?

Ashley Hinson: Yeah, well, I think first and foremost, it goes without saying that parents are the best stewards of their children’s education, the best caretakers, kids belong to parents, not the government, I firmly believe that, and that’s where I thought, when we’ve seen some aggressive actions from this administration, the Department of Justice, it was a good time for us to lay down a marker about, about making sure we are being very clear about parents rights when it comes to their kid’s education. 

So I was proud to support that bill, the five pillars of the bill, obviously, touch on things like transparency, for parents to know what their kids are learning in school, making sure that parents are having that open line of communication with the school, making sure they’re actually seeing what’s being spent, it is taxpayer dollars. And I think, as a taxpayer, myself, and, uh, among school-aged kids, I think that’s really important, and making sure that they are not being targeted as domestic terrorists for speaking their mind. And then also making sure that parents are aware of threats at school, I think that an open line of communication is really important. So we wanted to lay down the baseline of some basic policy to make sure it’s very clear where we stand because that is an issue that I continue to hear about from parents in the district at home.

The DI: So another question on that note, you know, there’s some been some more sweeping reforms, you know, in state legislatures across the country, and some talks about a national reform on this, about gender-affirming care, and, you know, banning it for minor children. You know, I will recently pass legislation like this, you know, if this were to come up for a vote in the House, would you support it? Or would you have some reservations? Or, you know, what are your thoughts on the issue?

Hinson: Well, my thoughts are as a parent of kids who are in a school district where I saw parents be shut out of the conversation. That’s where my biggest concern lies. 

I think all kids in this formative era of their education deserve to have a good learning and a good educational experience, which is why I’ve been very clear in my opposition to many of the policies that we’re seeing acted at school. 

It’s about parents’ rights, not about that, I want these kids to feel safe at school. 

And so that’s where my biggest beef was, was, when you’re telling kids at Linn Marr school that are 12 years old and older, that it’s okay to change your gender at school and not tell the parents should be involved in that conversation, not shut out. 

So that is where my main focus lies. And again, that’s why I’m supporting policies like the Parents’ Bill of Rights because I think that is the answer to transparency.

The DI: So now that Republicans have, you know, a slight majority, but still a majority in the House of Representatives, you know, what are some pieces of legislation or policy areas that you’re working on too, you know, bring results to Iowans?

Hinson: Well, just today, I had a hearing with the administrator for TSA, for example, and was able to tell the story of Sergeant Trent Dirks, he was my guest for the State of the Union address, a veteran with PTSD who brought his service dog Tracer out here to Washington, DC. 

And he actually flagged for me that he was having challenges going through TSA and many other veterans with service animals have faced similar challenges, lack of consistency, you know, forcing the dog to take off their collar, can kids, you know, trigger different reactions from the animal and put the veteran in a bad situation.

 So just today, I was able to get the TSA administrator to commit to working with me to make sure that process is more consistent across all airports. So I’ve been doing what I can to stand up for veterans and make sure they get the services they need but also focused on areas like this, just as an appropriator oversight is a huge part of what we’re doing right now. 

We’re going through the President’s budget requests, and having all of the heads of these departments come before us. 

Because I do think it’s important that we ask questions, Secretary maracas will be before our committee tomorrow. And I’ll be asking him questions about the border. Why are we continuing to see record numbers of people come across the border? Why are we not enforcing the laws that are on the books? 

And then just in terms of the policy that I’m introducing, we already touched on parents’ Bill of Rights. But I’ve again, reintroduced the precise Act, which is a bill that would enable existing programs, USDA programs like CSP, and equip these programs than would be able to utilize to buy precision agriculture technology. I’ve talked with a number of beginning farmers, farming is expensive, and land is expensive. 

So this is a way where we can help them to be even better stewards of their land by helping again with programs that they already know and trust. So reintroduce that and just continue to focus on standing up for taxpayers. That’s my number one job here, standing up for taxpayers, focused on rural America and making sure they continue to have a seat at the table and fighting for safety and security, because those are the issues that I hear from my friends about.

The DI: So, as part of Biden’s budget requests and being a steward of taxpayers, you’ve been very vocal about your opposition to President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. Senator Ernst and Grassley have introduced you or talked about introducing legislation that would stop the president from being able to go through this plan. 

And we recently saw that there were oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court on this. So, you know, can you just explain a little bit more about your continued opposition to a student loan forgiveness program?

Hinson: Well, again, this is about not forgiveness it is about the transference of cost, right? So the student loan cost doesn’t go away and gets transferred to taxpayers. 

The person signing on the dotted line is the one who took out that loan and needs to be responsible for that payment, not the taxpayer. Why wouldn’t someone who’s driving a truck be responsible for paying for someone else’s fancy degree? 

I think that’s flat-out wrong. Also, I think the President, and obviously, this will be decided by the courts, but it’s our job as appropriators to decide where we’re spending money on if you wanted to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on forgiveness programs or loan forgiveness programs, and that would be our job with the power of the person to make that decision. 

Hannah Pinski, Ashley Weil, Lauren White, and Emily Nyberg helped contribute to this report.