As I reflect on my first year of serving you in Congress, I am pleased by what we have accomplished together. I have been working hard to ensure your voice is heard in Washington, and that is why I quickly launched my 39 County Tour, secured seats on committees that impact our district – including the Agriculture Committee, and began pushing back against radical policies that infringe on your constitutional rights. While there is still plenty of work to do, 2021 is full of accomplishments that I am excited to share.
My most important responsibility as your representative is to be an effective voice for you in the halls of Congress. That is why I have never missed a vote and never voted by proxy; I always showed up to work for you and cast my vote in-person. Additionally, I launched and completed my first 39 County Tour, a promise I made to visit every county in the 4th District at least twice every year.
Throughout this year’s county tour, I listened to your concerns and used this feedback to take action in Washington. For example, I heard from farmers across the district concerned about proposed tax changes in President Biden and congressional Democrats’ social tax and spending bills. I immediately led over 80 of my colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden, urging him to abandon his plan to cap like-kind exchanges. I also spoke out against the Biden administration’s out-of-touch plan to implement a supercharged death tax. Fortunately, my colleagues and I have been successful in putting a stop to these devastating tax hikes on family farms.
In addition to the 39 County Tour, my team held traveling office hours in all 39 counties at least once this year – making it easier for folks across the district to access our office and get needed assistance. We have now successfully helped over 500 constituents navigate issues relating to the federal government, which includes everything from obtaining passports to securing tax returns.
While passing legislation as a member of the minority party can be challenging, I am pleased with the results we were able to deliver in 2021. Earlier this year, I fought to secure relief for Iowa producers who were still struggling to bounce back from the 2020 derecho, which was the most costly severe thunderstorm in U.S. history. Although Democrats delayed the process by initially striking this provision, I continued advocating for Iowa farmers and successfully got this much-needed relief signed into law.
I helped lead two other proposals aimed at supporting our rural communities, which both passed the House with bipartisan support over the summer. One seeks to bolster research and development for precision farming practices, with the intention of helping farmers improve efficiency and increase their bottom lines. The other would expand Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education programs and bolster broadband access in rural areas. STEM programs and quality broadband are critical to the future success and revitalization of rural America. I am honored to represent one of the largest agriculture districts in the country, and I will continue working on policies that ensure our farms and main streets have tools for success.
Finally, I joined my Iowa colleagues in introducing and advocating for the Sergeant Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Act, which was recently signed into law by President Biden. This bill is named in honor of Sgt. Brandon Ketchum, who tragically took his own life after failing to receive the mental health care he needed from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Our bill will help provide veterans in rural areas with more reliable mental health services. Additionally, after hearing from veterans frustrated by a lack of timely access to quality health care, I sent a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough demanding answers. According to the VA, a veteran seeking mental health care in the 4th District is forced to wait 27 days on average. I will continue working to ensure veterans in rural districts have access to timely, high-quality health care.
I strongly believe that ‘we are government together,’ meaning I cannot effect change as your elected representative without hearing your concerns, ideas, and questions. As we look ahead to a new year, I hope to hear from you. My website, Feenstra.House.Gov, contains all the information you need to stay in touch. It is an honor to serve as your voice in the halls of Congress, and I am looking forward to accomplishing even more together in 2022!
Randy Feenstra, a father of four, represents Iowa’s 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House, where he serves on the House Committees on Agriculture, Budget, and Science, Space, and Technology. Previously, he served as a City Administrator, County Treasurer, and Iowa state Senator.