DES MOINES, Iowa -- Congresswoman Cindy Axne took the oath of office to serve as the U.S. Representative for Iowa’s third congressional district last Thursday in Washington D.C., but today made the trip back to Des Moines to get sworn-in in front of the people she represents in Iowa.
“I, Cindy Axne do solemnly swear,” Axne repeated to Judge Bob Pratt, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Iowa. In front of her family and Iowans, Axne was sworn in Saturday morning.
“All along, this race it was about Iowans.” Axne said. “It was really important to me to make this happen to make sure the people here in this district understood that I meant it when I said it and they are a part of this.”
Despite the snow, the lobby to Axne’s district office was filled for the ceremony.
“I've never been to a swearing in before, and I didn’t want the weather to deter me,” Iowan Julia Burke said. “This is a really exciting moment for women and politics.”
But Axne admits, her first taste of Congress was not quite what she expected, amid the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
“This job, as they say, is like drinking a fire hose to begin with, so walking into a government shutdown, adds an extra layer of difficulty,” Axne said.
Her top priority is getting the shutdown resolved for the over 17,000 federal employees in Iowa who are not getting paid at this time, including herself.
“I am not taking a paycheck,” Axne said on the podium during her ceremony Saturday. “I have withheld my paycheck until our federal employees get their paychecks when we reopen government.”
“I wanted to let them know that I’m in it with them, I’ve got skin in the game, and that I’m here to make sure they get everything they deserve,” Axne said to Channel 13’s Whitney Blakemore.
Des Moines City Council member Josh Mandelbaum was in attendance and says he is thankful Iowans have someone advocating for the reopening of the government because its closure is impacting Des Moines.
“From a city perspective, we implement the federal housing program, and we have people whose housing payments aren’t going to be coming, and that’s a real concern from a city perspective,” Mandelbaum said.
A day before she was sworn-in in Des Moines, Axne spoke with local air traffic controllers, who just like TSA officers and other essential federal employees, are showing up to work every day without getting paid.
“As a former state government employee for almost a decade, I value the work of our government employees. So never, should we ever, be in a government shutdown,” Axne said.
On Wednesday, Senator Chuck Grassley was asked if he would do the same and decline his paycheck. He said no.