Iowa's New Era: Ernst sworn into office - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa's New Era: Ernst sworn into office

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The same two men have been serving Iowa in the U.S. Senate for 30 years, until now.

Joni Ernst was sworn into office on Tuesday, becoming the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress.

The Republican from Red Oak succeeds Tom Harkin, who chose not to run for reelection.

Her new colleague, Senator Chuck Grassley says he's excited to work with Ernst, who he believes is a fast learner. "My advice to her is 'You forget about Chuck Grassley and you choose the appropriate committees you want that are the right fit for you,'" said Sen. Grassley, (R) Iowa.

She's serving on four committees and hopes Congress can address some key issues right away. "Mispayments in Medicare, Medicaid... so that's an area we can start on immediately," said Sen. Ernst.

Cutting waste is something she talked a lot about on the campaign trail. KWWL asked her if she planned on making a statement right off the bat, by giving back some of the money for her offices in Iowa, a budget that includes $40,000 for office furniture. "It goes back into a big pot of money and somebody else will use it if we're not careful and watching our budget carefully," said Ernst.

Senator Ernst said she has always been thrifty and that will not change... and neither will the line that became synonymous with her campaign. ("We're going to make 'em squeal")

One of the first things you'll see in her new office is a pig statue. "I have a pig on the desk and it's a chalkboard and we can write inspirational messages on it, but it is a reminder of who I am and where I come from," said Ernst.

But what about that now-famous line? Has anyone asked her how she plans to use it going forward?

"It's not about making a person squeal. It is about reforming the way we do business here in Washington," said Ernst.

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