Axne, joining a Congress that includes the most women in history, excited to get to work

January 5, 2019

WASHINGTON — Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, arrived at her new Capitol Hill office on Thursday morning excited to get to work in spite of the bare walls and lack of a coffee machine.

“It’s an honor to be able to serve the people that I grew up with,” Axne told The World-Herald.

Axne defeated incumbent Republican Rep. David Young last year in the state’s 3rd District, a key swing seat victory that helped deliver the House back into Democratic hands.

When she took the oath of office Thursday afternoon, Axne joined the 116th Congress, which has record levels of diversity, including the most women ever.

The first order of business is fully reopening the government, which has been partially shut down due to the fight over border wall funding.

Axne said that dispute should have been resolved by the previous Congress. She supports funding to increase border security but not a border wall.

She said she never believes in shutting down government, which results in federal employees not getting paychecks and affects Americans looking to visit national parks.

“It hurts our economy, it hurts our workers, it hurts families,” Axne said. “And so we need to get up and get our business running again.”

Toward that end, she said, she supported Democratic legislation passed Thursday night by the House that would reopen the government while temporarily putting off the question of border wall funding.

[READ MORE: House passes proposal to reopen government without wall funding, Senate unlikely to follow]

“Put government back to work but keep the door open to work on the border and national security issues,” Axne said. “I think it’s a win-win.”

Axne said that President Donald Trump’s unpredictability translates into some hectic days but that she has experience working with a wide range of people.

“Women are multitaskers,” she said. “We’re problem-solvers.”

Axne participated in weeks of orientation after the election to prepare to serve, along with other incoming members. She described that as a good opportunity to connect with her new colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

For example, she discussed working on expanding rural broadband with a newly elected Republican congressman from South Dakota.

She’s been assembling a staff, which includes top campaign aides: Joe Diver will serve as her chief of staff, and Madeleine Russak will be her deputy chief of staff and communications director.

Axne is moving into her new role at a time when 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls will be crisscrossing Iowa. Elizabeth Warren, for example, will be in Council Bluffs on Friday.

But Axne said she won’t be at the Massachusetts senator’s event. She said it’s great that so many people want to run but that she’s not endorsing anyone yet.

“We’ll see what they have to say,” she said.

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