Ernst joins relatives of Americans held hostage by Hamas

WASHINGTON — Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers who hosted Wednesday’s U.S. Capitol visit from families of Americans being held hostage in Gaza.

“For over 100 days now Americans have been held at the mercy of Iran-backed Hamas — six of them,” Ernst said. “Families don’t know if their loved one is dead or alive and, as you see here, no parent should have to endure this.”

Speaking at a news conference earlier Wednesday, Ernst told reporters that pain should be answered. “Bring these hostages home. Bring these Americans home now,” Ernst said. “…Every second counts.”

Earlier this month, Ernst led a delegation of Democrats and Republicans from the U.S. House and Senate to stops in four Middle East countries. “The mission of that delegation was solely focused on the return of our hostages. We called on leaders in the region to pressure Hamas into releasing these hostages,” Ernst said. “…We cannot let up in holding our partners feet to the fire to reunite these families.”

Israeli officials estimate about 130 hostages remain in Gaza after being captured by Hamas on October 7. Ernst said the country of Qatar could be key to negotiations to free the hostages and she’s called on more members of congress and the Biden Administration to exert more public pressure on Hamas to free the hostages.

Ernst, other top Senate leaders and relatives of the six Americans who’s among the remaining hostages spoke during a news conference in Washington, D.C.