Braun ‘hit the ground running’ in Senate


U.S. Senate Photographic Studio, Rosa Pineda

About seven months into Mike Braun’s first term as a U.S. Senator, the Jasper native said he hasn’t had any issues with the jump from state to national politics.

“I think whatever prepared me to get there must have been pretty good because I feel like I hit the ground running,” he said in a Monday interview in his office at Meyer Distributing in Jasper.

Recently, Braun has made national headlines for opposing the Senate’s now-passed federal budget deal, which he argued is not sustainable and would be shouldered by future generations.

He’s also introduced bills that would cap, cut, and balance that budget as well as define ‘Waters of the United States,’ clearly outlining what is and is not a federally regulated waterway to help farmers.

In addition to that, Braun offered an amendment to America’s Highway Infrastructure Act that would strengthen the Department of Transportation requirements to use “made-in-America” products in taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects.

While speaking about his accomplishments, Braun said he is one of the few Republicans willing to interact with various media outlets, which makes him stand out.

“I never did mind doing that before I became a senator, speak my point of view,” Braun said. “And I certainly did it on a limited basis as a state legislator. And here, since we don’t get anything done substantively on legislation that should be done because of the opposing ideas, you’ve got a big microphone if you’re willing to use it. So, I do that.”

Braun is a member of several committees, including the Senate committees on agriculture, nutrition, and forestry; environment and public works; the budget; aging; and health, education, labor, and pensions.

He said he actively attends every committee, and he’s generally one of the last people to leave their meetings. He taps into previous experiences while serving on those groups.

For example, Braun developed an understanding of health care from his work at Meyer, and he regularly brings the topic up to challenge the expensive industry and the way it has evolved.

When he mentions that he is the chairman of a subcommittee on clean air and advanced nuclear technology, he points to his days at Jasper High School, during which he launched the school’s first ecology club. He’s also been a conservationist his entire adult life and is a tree farmer, helping his decisions on the agriculture committee.

“[I’m] probably the only member of the agriculture committee — of the 20 on the committee — that’s actively kind of involved in farming,” Braun said, noting that one of the other members does have a cattle farm. “That’s been unique.”

He said the budget committee should be the most important of the bunch, but instead is probably the most irrelevant one because “Congress doesn’t do a budget anymore.”

“It’s pretty well ... a small group of people kind of control the process,” Braun said. “Nobody’s really that concerned with the performance — that I think is poor — where we spend so much through the federal government, and there’s so many arguments that it’s just not spent well. I think the proof is in the pudding, so that’s frustrating.”

Addressing the rising cost of prescription drugs, combating the opioid crisis, promoting post-secondary education options other than four-year schools, reining in federal spending and calling on Congress to approve Trump’s United-States-Mexico-Canada agreement are all issues that are important to him.

He’s thankful that he’s been given a platform to address them.

“I’m blessed and honored to be the U.S. Senator, and will draw on my Main Street experience that’s been based upon hard work, experience and practical solutions,” Braun said. “Commonsense stuff. We need more of that in D.C.”

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