Hinson talks future restaurant relief, Biden priorities with Dubuque Chamber

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, met virtually with members of the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday afternoon to discuss her take on various economic and business issues she faces at the U.S. Capitol.

As the more complex programs passed as part of the American Rescue Plan continue to roll out, Hinson is keeping a close eye on how they are working. For instance, Hinson said that she and her office had been quick to help troubleshoot the rollout of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, when they hit some bumps upon opening.

Chamber staff thanked her for that work during Thursday’s session. But, the chamber’s Government and External Affairs Manager Ryan Sempf said early applications show there is more need, especially for restaurants.

“Congress allocated $28.6 billion to the program,” he said. “When it opened, the program received about $70 billion in requests for funding.”

So, Sempf asked if Hinson would be willing to support increasing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Hinson said she may, but with some caveats.

“One of the concerns I had in general was the priority groups,” she said. “If we do move forward with additional funds or an additional appropriation, I would like more people to be able to apply for that. What we saw was that not only did the funds go quickly, it was really narrow as to who could apply.”

Hinson voted against the American Rescue Plan that created those programs because, as she repeated again Thursday, she did not believe it was targeted enough.

She told the chamber that she feels similarly about President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan infrastructure push and the American Families Plan for education and child care. In particular, she voiced opposition to the increase in corporate tax rates and other revenue strategies outlined by Biden for the plans.

“I don’t think our corporate tax rate should be as high as Communist China’s,” Hinson said. “We need to be focused on returning more taxpayer dollars. My husband was a small-business owner. They are going to take that money and reinvest it in their business.”

Sempf agreed, opposing the tax reforms included in the plans.

“We don’t want to be sending our taxpayer dollars out to other projects,” he said. “We want to keep that here.”

Dubuque County Democrats Chairwoman Carrie O’Connor said that her party isn’t focused on protecting the interests of corporations.

“We’re happy to continue to protect the interests of everyday folks instead,” O’Connor said. “These plans are going to bring millions and millions of dollars into our communities to spend on projects that will benefit our people.”