Iowa Congressman Nunn backs federal spending at pre-pandemic levels

DES MOINES — Iowa Congressman Zach Nunn, a Republican from Bondurant, says the immediate priority for the new speaker of the U.S. House is bringing a series of budget bills up for a vote on the House floor.

“I call him ‘Miracle Mike’ because thank God we’re getting back to work,” Nunn said Friday. “The reality here is that while at the floor level for the last three weeks we have not been able to get a lot done, we have continued to work very diligently on the committee level.”

Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson was elected House Speaker last week after the previous speaker was ousted by eight fellow Republicans upset about passage of a temporary spending measure that avoided a federal government shutdown, but it expires November 17. Nunn supports the House GOP’s new plan to try to reduce federal spending below the level the former House speaker and President Biden agreed to this spring. “We’ve already passed nearly 80% of the appropriations bills through congress and I want to foot stomp this, look, this hasn’t happened in more than a decade that the House has actually moved appropriations bills. There’s a constitutional requirement to do it,” Nunn said. “On every bill, we have done a scale back to pre-COVID spending. I think that that’s important.”

President Biden has also proposed a spending package with funding for Israel, Ukraine and U.S. border security. Nunn said the new House speaker is right to plan for separate votes on those issues. “I think it’s appropriate that we have purpose-based bills,” Nunn said. “Trying to do the old way of D.C. of shoving everything into one massive bill and then giving people the opportunity to just vote yes or no is a disservice to the district and it also waters down the effectiveness of those bills.”

Nunn told reporters the House should first priority should be on spending to secure the southern border, then vote to provide assistance to Israel. Nunn said the U.S. needs to “have a conversation” when it comes to funding for the war in Ukraine. “We can’t just continue to give taxpayer dollars to a conflict going on in Europe with no accountability, no strategy going forward and no vision of what we want Ukraine and Russia to be,” Nunn said.

Nunn made his comments Friday during a news conference in Des Moines. Nunn discussed a bill he’s co-sponsoring that would direct federal officials to draw up a plan to increase capacity a nursing schools. Several people in Nunn’s family are or have been nurses, including his mother. “Unfortunately we have a challenge now for having the number of trainers for nurses at an all-time low,” Nunn said, “and this puts our nursing facilities in a challenge.”

Nunn cited a state report from 2020 that indicated 70% of Iowa health care facilities were struggling to find nurses. Nunn held his news conference at the Iowa Primary Care Association’s headquarters. About 25% of the nursing jobs at the non-profit’s clinics in Polk, Marshall and Story Counties are unfilled.