U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R- Iowa) was born and raised in southwest Iowa where she grew up walking beans and feeding hogs. The Ernst family went to church every week, helped their neighbors when they needed it, and those neighbors did the same in return. These were the values Joni was raised with, and they’re the same values she has fought for her entire life.
Joni was fortunate to be able to attend, and graduate from, Iowa State University, and she earned part of her tuition money by working construction jobs during the summer months. She later met her husband Gail, and after he retired as a Command Sergeant Major and Army Ranger, they returned home to Iowa to settle down, and raise their own family.
Today Joni still teaches Sunday school in the same church she was baptized in and lives with her family in the very house where her best friend grew up.
Service to her Community, State, and Nation
While at Iowa State, Joni took part in an overseas agricultural exchange to Ukraine – then part of the Soviet Union. After that trip, Joni felt a calling to give back to our great nation. She joined the Army ROTC and has since served over twenty three years in uniform including duty as a Company Commander in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa National Guard.
Upon returning from her overseas deployment, Joni continued to be a leader in her community. She was elected as Montgomery County Auditor, where she served for six years. Joni left that post in 2010 after being elected to the Iowa State Senate where during her tenure she helped pass the largest tax cut in Iowa history, cut wasteful spending and fought for pro-growth and pro-job creation policies.
2014 Election and Service in the United States Senate
On November 4, 2014, Joni was elected with 52% of the ballot share to represent the great State of Iowa in the United States Senate. She won with an 8.5% margin, and earned victory in 85 of Iowa’s 99 counties and all four of Iowa’s congressional districts.
When Joni was sworn in to the 114th Congress on January 6, 2015, she became the first woman elected to represent Iowa in federal office, and the first female combat veteran to serve in the United States Senate.
Joni serves on the following U.S. Senate Committees: Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and Small Business and Entrepreneurship. On March 23, 2015, she gave her first senate floor speech where she addressed the need for military veterans to be able to receive mental healthcare outside of the VA system until they receive assistance from the agency. She then introduced her inaugural piece of legislation by filing the “Prioritizing Veterans’ Access to Mental Health Care Act.”