U.S. Representative candidates clash on abortion rights


The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., the seat of the U.S. Congress.

Running to represent Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District, candidates U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, Ryan Melton and Bryan Jack Holder differ in their stance on abortion rights.

The candidates

Feenstra, a Republican resident of Hull, Iowa, is running for reelection . After serving six terms in the Iowa Senate, Feenstra is the sitting district four Representative.

Bryan Jack Holder is a member of the Liberty Caucus running for representative of the fourth house district. (Courtesy of Bryan Jack Holder)

Melton, resident of Nevada, Iowa, is the Democratic candidate running to represent the fourth house district. He said he has worked for Nationwide for the past 13 years and has served in a leadership role managing high-performing teams of insurance professionals.

Bryan Jack Holder, Liberty Caucus member and resident of Council Bluffs, Iowa, is running for representative of the fourth house district. He said he has lived in Iowa his entire life and runs his family’s videography business.

Reproductive rights

Feenstra stated in an email that he would continue to support legislation that reduces the number of abortions in the country.

“I will always be a strong voice for the voiceless because there is nothing more fundamental and sacred in our Constitution than the right to life for all,” Feenstra stated.

When Roe v. Wade was overturned, Feenstra issued a statement vowing to “always protect the unborn and vote to ensure that every child is guaranteed one of our most fundamental constitutional rights; the right to life.”

Melton advocates for the passage of the equal rights amendment. This would preserve protections for reproductive rights, including abortion.

Holder said he supports a culture of life and liberty for the unborn; however, he does not think the government should impose regulations upon people. He believes the government should poll people before creating a law that regulates the right to abortion.

Gun violence

“Senseless acts of violence in our country are tragic, and my heart breaks for families who have endured unthinkable loss and hardship,” Feenstra stated. “The bottom line is that nobody should feel unsafe at school, church or any public setting.”

Feenstra stated in an email that his plan to decrease gun violence includes continuing to increase access to mental health resources while also protecting the constitutional Second Amendment right for all Iowans.

“The gun control laws that we have in place in the state of Iowa have done a fairly good job making sure weapons do not fall into the hands of the wrong people,” Holder said.

Holder said “criminals will be criminals,” and this should not affect the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-IA) is running to maintain his position as Iowa’s representative for the fourth district.

Melton said he would like to address the issue of gun violence by implementing the following:

  •  Universal background checks for all gun purchases
  • an assault weapons ban
  • Red flag laws
  • Prioritizing the alleviation of poverty

Melton said poor mental health is not the sole cause behind gun violence; however, there is still a need for more mental health professionals.

College costs

Feenstra stated in an email that college is too expensive for many students and families to afford.

“If our nation wants to continue to be the economic and technological superpower of the world, we need to invest in our greatest asset: our students,” Feenstra stated.

According to an email, Feenstra supports lowering interest rates for student loans, protecting Pell Grants and addressing the out-of-control college costs. Feenstra stated that lowering the overall costs of college continues to be an issue that he advocates for.

Melton said state governments are underfunding post-secondary education. He believes that there is an opportunity to make community colleges free and education more affordable; however, he said these reforms start with increasing funding for the education system.

Holder believes the burden of student debt should not fall back on taxpayers. He said the increased cost of college tuition has been the fault of the current reliance on taxpayers. Instead, students should shop for the best education value for their money.


Melton’s main plan to strengthen Iowa’s sustainability lies in ramping up wind and solar power use. He knows that there is a large opposition to different power sources because of concern that our electricity grid will not be able to support them fully.

“Our electricity grid has gone through many big changes like this historically…we have always been able to do it,” Melton said.

Melton also believes in an investment into biofuels but stated that they are not a “silver bullet” when it comes to climate change mitigation.

Holder would like to support and encourage sustainable agriculture practices in Iowa.

“I am a conservationist; I support clean air, clean water, clean living,” Holder said. “Corporations should not be allowed to pollute the rivers and waterways the way they do.”

Ryan Melton at the Western Iowa Labor Federation Labor Picnic in Fort Dodge earlier in September. (Courtesy of Melton for Iowa)

Having served on the House Agriculture Committee, Feenstra stated in an email that sustainability is something he prioritizes. He stated that embracing biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel is important to lowering gas prices, protecting Iowa’s environment and supporting farmers.

“In terms of renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, I will be particularly focused on Title 2, which is the conservation title, and Title 9, which is the energy title of the Farm Bill,” Feenstra stated. “I support voluntary conservation programs that help Iowa farmers make extra money while they continue to feed and fuel our country and the world.”

Feenstra stated that the Conservation Reserve Program, which imposes restrictions on how farmers can use their land with the intent to protect highly erodible soils and improve water quality, should be more flexible so farmers can use their land for grazing and other activities with the approval of their respective farm service agencies.

Main campaign goals

Melton said his campaign motto and primary focus has been “putting people first.” He said he has proven this by rejecting all corporate PAC money offered to his campaign, which he believes shows his responsiveness to people rather than big money.

Holder said that his main goal with his campaign is to promote policies that expand freedoms and liberties. He said he believes this can be achieved through better representation of constituents at the national level.

Feenstra stated that his top priority as a representative has been to give Iowans a voice and seat at the table in Congress. Looking forward to his prospective term, stated that he wants his constituents to know that he is focused on delivering results back home.

Term promises and accomplishments

The main policy ideas that Holder’s campaign centers around include supporting his idea of the “Iowa Compromise.” This means dividing house districts into smaller areas and adding more seats to the House of Representatives to make up for the new divisions. Holder said it would make constituent populations smaller per elected official.

Melton said he would like to preserve and strengthen the representative democracy of the United States. Specifically, he would like to prioritize the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, an act that would ensure minority voters equal participation opportunities in elections.

“I think our democracy is on the precipice right now,” Melton said.

In congressman Feenstra’s first term, he wrote four bills that were passed through the House. This included two bills through the House Science, Space and Technology Committee concerning the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He also authored an act supporting commercial biofuel cell systems and an act​ to improve weather radar detection systems that are affected by wind turbines or other physical structures.

Feenstra stated that he would like Iowans to know he is working with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to pass the bipartisan Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act. The proposed legislation aims to ensure Iowa’s independent producers receive a fair, market-based price for their products.