Braun adjusting to pace on Capitol Hill



WASHINGTON, D.C. — Although he is in the middle of his Congressional work in the nation’s capital, U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind. still manages to come home to Jasper every week.

“I’m here (in Washington, D.C.) a little over three days a week: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” he said as he walked down the street from the U.S. Capitol to an event Tuesday evening. “I get home Thursday night or Friday morning, and fly out each week, Monday around noon.

“I’m going to be one that comes back to Indiana every chance I get.”

In the little more than two months he has been a congressional senator, Braun has noticed that serving in the U.S. Congress is like serving in the Indiana General Assembly, but at a different pace.

“It’s got similarities. The bill process is similar,” he said. “But it’s a lot slower process here. We looked at a lot more bills, and committees actually got stuff with more speed at the state level.”

He gave as an example criminal justice reform. In Indiana, the process took two to three years, which included studying legislation in a summer committee and making tweaks to originally-passed legislation in a subsequent year.

But in the U.S. Congress, “the criminal justice reform bill, which got across the finish line right before I got sworn in,” Braun said, “they were working on that for 11 or 12 years.”

The slower pace of legislation is something Braun is working to get used to. “I knew that going into it,” he said. “But I always kept a pretty fast pace, being an entrepreneur and business owner.”

But serving on the federal level means having the opportunity to have input on ideas and legislation that affects the whole country. “It is a great opportunity,” Braun said, “because you have a big stage here, to talk about stuff that’s important to you, and I do that. You’ve got a big opportunity for a greater impact. It’s just a much slower process.”

Despite the slower legislation process, the days are fast-paced, Braun said. “Your days go quickly, because there are so many different groups that want to bend your ear and talk to you about what they are interested in,” he said.

Braun serves on five Senate committees: Budget; Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Environment and Public Works; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; and the Special Committee on Aging. Under the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, he is chairman of the Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources Subcommittee. Under the Environment and Public Works Committee, he serves as chairman of the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee.”

“I’ve got great committees. That’s all the stuff I weighed in on as a business owner and a state legislator,” he said. “So it goes back to that opportunity that you have, if you’re willing to stick your neck out and move a little more quickly than a typical freshman would. And I intend to do that.”

Braun has a lot he wants to achieve while serving in the U.S. Senate.

“I’m going to be talking about the stuff I rolled out to make health care more affordable,” he said, “work on infrastructure issues, and try to weigh in on getting a budget done, which hasn’t been done in 20 years. So there’s a lot of room for improvement.”

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