Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican and avid supporter of President Trump, is expected to speak at the Republican National Convention Tuesday night.
The overall convention is themed “honoring the great American story.” Reynolds, who has been governor since 2017, is expected to deliver remarks on the second night, themed “Land of Opportunity,” when speakers are planning to highlight Trump’s policies on trade, abortion, and the opioid crisis.
Iowa is traditionally a swing state, and Trump won in the 2016 presidential election with 51.1% of the vote.
IOWA FARMERS DEVASTATED AFTER DERECHO DAMAGES 14 MILLION ACRES OF FARMLAND, GRAIN BINS
Though it’s unclear what Reynolds will discuss, Iowa is grappling with the severe damage left earlier this month when a hurricane-strength 100 mph wind storm known as a “derecho” ripped through the Midwest. Even with some school buildings damaged, Reynolds, like Trump, has pushed for students to return to in-person instruction this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, Trump visited Iowa and participated in a roundtable with local leaders in Cedar Rapids after the storm. He approved a portion of Reynolds’ request for funding under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Individual Assistance Program for Linn County. The president later approved additional aid for Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clinton, Dallas, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story and Tama Counties.
The Aug. 10 derecho has left 14 million acres of farmland with corn and soybean crops damaged across the state, as well as some 60,000 homes destroyed.
“President Trump’s swift and decisive response will deliver critical assistance for our state as we continue to recover from this devastating storm,” Reynolds said in a statement Thursday. “While many in the national media ignored what was happening here on the ground following the devastating derecho, President Trump and I spoke the day after the storm hit. During that conversation, he promised the full cooperation of the federal government during this critical time. Once again, he has come through and I am grateful for this President‘s unwavering commitment to Iowa as we continue to secure federal assistance for all affected counties.”
Reynolds issued a mandate in July requiring school districts across the state to reopen with at least 50% classroom instruction. In her order, the governor said districts where 15% or more of coronavirus tests were positive over the prior 14 days can request permission to move to online instruction for two weeks at a time. That 15% threshold is three times higher than what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends, and the surgeon general has recommended a 10% limit.
“Education is fundamental to the well-being of our children, and our teachers are essential to ensuring that our schoolkids return to learn rather than mark time and lose ground,” the governor said, according to the Associated Press. “We can do this safely.”
The statewide teachers union announced a lawsuit last week challenging the governor’s ability to make such decisions for local districts. The Iowa City school board, which like many others had planned to start the year fully online, voted to join the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, earlier in the month, Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education said $26.2 million would be available to districts, nonpublic schools, and colleges and universities primarily to increase Internet connectivity for students for the 2020-21 school year.
States and local districts have set widely varying thresholds for reopening schools, but Iowa’s is among the highest anywhere. By contrast, New York City says schools can reopen if positivity rates are below 3%. Arizona has put its rate at 7%.
Reynolds assumed the role of governor in May 2017 and won reelection in November 2018. Her current term ends on January 10, 2023.
In addition to Reynolds, two of the president’s children, Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump, are scheduled to speak at the RNC Tuesday night, as well as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer.
Others speakers are anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson; Maine lobsterman Jason Joyce; Mary Ann Mendoza, an Arizona woman whose police officer son was killed in an accident caused by a man in the country illegally; and Nicholas Sandmann, a Kentucky teenager who gained attention last year for a widely shared video of his interaction with a Native American man, Nathan Phillips, during demonstrations in Washington, D.C., near the Lincoln Memorial.
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Another Republican Iowan, Sen. Joni Ernst, will speak at the convention on Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.