WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans elected Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) to serve as the vice chairwoman of the Senate Republican Conference last week, making her the first woman elected to a Senate leadership position since Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2009.
"I'm very excited and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to serve the conference," Ernst told CBN News. "We have a lot to work on in communicating clearly and that's why I think that it's important that we do have a woman serving in this elected leadership position. We need to be reflective of our constituencies and having all males on the leadership team is not reflective of our society, so I'm excited to be there and to be a communication messenger for our team and I look forward to the challenges."
Ernst says she hopes to help her conference improve their communication to women ahead of the 2020 elections.
"Women everywhere, whether they are in suburbia or whether they are in rural areas, they want to know that we have a strong economy, they want to know that we are placing our education priorities in the state and with the local school boards and administrators and parents," explained Ernst. "They want to know those things and we need to do a better job of communicating them."
Ernst also described to CBN News her relationship with the president and his administration.
"I get along quite well with the president and while I don't always agree with the president, I always respect our president," commented Ernst. "He has a very difficult job and so I think that that's the challenge that many Republicans see is that sometimes he may differ a little on the issues, okay? That's alright."
"How we come together and work on those priorities for the president I think is really important, that we are supporting him and his agenda to make sure he is fulfilling his commitment to the American people," she said. "He's been quite clear about that: It's time for us to step up and find a way forward, collaborate with the president and the White House and make sure that we're achieving his goals."
But she says achieving the president's goals will be more difficult with Democrats controlling the House next year and added there are many things she wishes Republicans could have legislatively accomplished the past two years.
On the issue of former Attorney General Jeff Session's resignation, Ernst told CBN News she feels very confident in fellow Iowan Matt Whitaker stepping in as acting attorney general.
"I know him to be a man of integrity; I know him to a be a man who will uphold the law so I think that it was a great selection to have Matt Whitaker as the acting attorney general," said Ernst. "I admire Jeff Sessions very much. I admire him and I think he did a very great job for our president, but it is up now to the president to make that decision on who should be a permanent replacement for Jeff Sessions and we will as the Senate provide advice and consent and we'll do the best we can."
Sen. Ernst finished the interview talking about the role faith plays in politics.
"I think it plays a very important part. Those of us that truly are faith-based understand that the decisions we make need to be reflective of our values system and my values system is that of a Christian woman serving in the United States Senate," said Ernst.
"And so it helps us discern what is the right direction for the people we represent and maybe what is not a strong position to take for the people we represent," she explained. "I think it plays a very important part for our everyday lives and that should always translate then into the work we do in Congress."