Column: 100 days of progress in dysfunctional DCApril 15, 2019
By MIKE BRAUN
This week marks 100 days since I took the oath to serve Hoosiers in the U.S. Senate, and while I’ve discovered Washington is even more gummed up than I ever imagined, you sent me here to get results.
One hundred days in, I’m proud to report we’re making headway on a number of items Hoosiers sent me here to speak up on: protecting the unborn, confirming conservative judicial nominations, curtailing congressional perks and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
I began my term during a perfect example of just how different the private sector is from the Washington gridlock: the longest partial-government shutdown in American history. In the business world, no one gets rewarded for not doing their job, so my first legislation for Hoosiers was “No Budget, No Pay.” If Congress can’t get a budget passed when they’re supposed to, it’s just common sense they shouldn’t get paid.
Hoosiers sent me to Washington to help President Trump drain the swamp, and it starts with cutting out generous taxpayer-funded perks that keep career politicians in D.C. I believe no one should get rich on the taxpayers’ dime, and these special perks incentivize political survival over everything else. My second legislative proposal for Hoosiers was to do away with these pensions and put Congress on a 401(k) like most Americans. I’m pleased to report we’ve made progress: the Senate Budget Committee recently approved part of my legislation as a rule, enabling Congressmen and Senators to opt out of these taxpayer-funded pensions, which I will keep my promise to Hoosiers and do.
One of the centuries-long traditions in the Senate is to wait months before speaking on the floor. But as I watched Democrats propose or pass laws to legalize abortion up to the moment of birth, my core convictions moved me to speak up for the unborn. I was proud to give my first floor speech just a few days after taking office in support of Senator Ben Sasse’s Born Alive Survivors Protection Act, because protecting all human life transcends politics.
During my campaign, Hoosiers saw how Democrats turned the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh into a political spectacle. They sent me to Washington to help fix this broken system, and so far, we have now confirmed 12 highly qualified nominees to the federal bench who will respect the rule of law and the role of the courts, including Holly Brady of Fort Wayne to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Indiana.
Everywhere I go in Indiana, Hoosiers tell me about the skyrocketing costs of healthcare premiums and prescription drug prices, and my top priority in the past 100 days has been lowering the ballooning, out-of-control costs of prescription drugs and healthcare services under Obamacare. I took on the insurance companies in my own business 10 years ago, and it’s something I wasted no time doing here in Washington.
To combat this epidemic for Hoosiers, I’ve introduced four common sense healthcare reforms that both sides of the aisle can come together on: drug price transparency that eliminates the middle-man from secret negotiations, healthcare transparency so Hoosiers can know the true cost of what they’re paying for, reforming the FDA to speed up the process for drug approval and providing greater oversight of the healthcare industry.
We are already seeing the fruits of our labor on this critical issue. Following the introduction of my Drug Price Transparency Act, CNBC reported that UnitedHealth is enacting the ideas of my legislation to stop middlemen negotiators from taking hidden rebates and passing the savings directly to the consumer. Putting pressure on the pharmaceutical industry is a key part of reforming our healthcare system, because if they don’t get their act together, they’ll soon find themselves in a no-win situation with one business partner: the federal government.
Hoosiers sent me to D.C. to shake things up and speak out on issues that are dear to us, and I’m proud of the headway we’ve made on prescription drug prices, defending the rights of the unborn, draining the swamp and holding Washington accountable for the poor product they’ve been sending Hoosiers for years. It’s an honor to serve you and your family in the Senate, and I’m looking forward to the next hundred days of progress for you.
U.S. Senator Mike Braun is from Jasper.
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