On the Federal Front: Around the Horn

The U.S. House of Representatives was on a week-long recess, which means our delegation was back home and visiting with their constituents around the state. The Senate, however, remained in D.C. working. Both will continue on the job in Washington starting next week until their recess around Memorial Day. A few news and notes:

* Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08) held a job fair in Terre Haute on Wednesday in coordination with WorkOne Western Indiana, Indiana State University and the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce. The event, held at Indiana State University’s Hulman Center, afforded potential employees the opportunity to meet with employers hiring in the Wabash Valley. A special emphasis was given to hiring veterans.

* Bucshon recently attended the Indiana Chamber’s I-69 Regional Summit in downtown Indianapolis. He was fresh from the floor vote in Congress on health care reform and also took time to meet with Chamber executives to discuss the topic.

* Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement on Thursday regarding reports that the Trump Administration is considering sending more American troops to Afghanistan:

“I am glad that President Trump is willing to seriously consider the request of his commanders on the ground, who are asking for additional forces. We’ve been at war in Afghanistan since 2001, but in recent years, decisions about troop levels have been based on politics instead of military strategy. We’ve invested too much blood and treasure in Afghanistan to tolerate a stalemate or defeat. I look forward to learning more about the administration’s plans in the coming days.”

* U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly has released his Foundation for Families Agenda – a series of policy proposals aimed at improving the quality of life for Hoosier families. Included in the policy agenda:

  • Paid family and medical leave
  • Expanding access to pre-K and quality childcare options
  • Affordable higher education
  • Equal pay for women

Donnelly released a video explaining his agenda. He stated, “I am unveiling the Foundation for Families Agenda because we need to ensure our policies and priorities support hardworking Hoosier and American families. When our families succeed, so
does our economy. The foundation for our families should include family leave, options for affordable childcare and pre-K, access to an affordable college education, and the assurance that Hoosier women are paid equally when they do the same job as their male counterparts. These are common sense ideas that I am hopeful we can advance in a bipartisan manner in the Senate.”

* Many news organizations are speculating that a potential candidate to be the new FBI director might be the current president of Anderson University, John Pistole. Pistole is former deputy director of the FBI (and led significant counter-terrorism efforts) and past head of the Transportation Security Administration. He has declined all requests for interviews since the speculation began, but a few friends and family spoke to the Indy Star.

* Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson has been tapped to serve on President Trump’s national commission investigating the integrity of American elections; see The Northwest Indiana Times story. Vice President Mike Pence is chairing the commission.

Bush Writes; Will You Read?

November 9 is a big day. Some think that is because former President George W. Bush will release his memoir titled Decision Points. I prefer the fact that the Indiana Chamber will be conducting its 21st Annual Awards Dinner (it will be my 13th); recognizing the Business Leader, Government Leader and Community of the Year; and bringing Tom Brokaw to the event to share his insights. More than 1,200 have already purchased tickets, but there’s room for more.

But, in order to give the second Bush his fair due, below (from the National Journal) is some info regarding his book. Will I read it? Probably. Not sure what I expect to learn new and it actually might be painful to relive some of the events of early this century, but it should offer some insights into the White House perspective.

Bush will recount some of the high and low points of his presidency, ranging from 9/11, sending troops to Afghanistan and Iraq to his victorious 2004 reelection campaign to his administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

"I decided to take an untraditional approach," Bush says in a video promoting the book. "Rather than provide an exhaustive chronological account of my life and years in office, I wanted to give readers a glimpse of the presidency from my perspective." Hence the idea to focus on major decisions, he explains.

Bush says the book begins with his decision to stop drinking at age 40 ("a decision I could not have made without faith") and tells viewers that after a biographical overview of his life, he’ll offer a chapter on how he selected his Cabinet and senior staff.

Then he launches into a summary of the decisions he writes about in the book. He closes by saying that the book will recount what he did wrong, and what he’d do differently if he had another chance.

ISRs Mean JOBS for Someone

When the IRS comes calling, most people are worried. Switch two letters to ISR and the tone switches from potential tax troubles to economic opportunity.

Although health care reform still dominates the discussion in Washington, those engaged in the military are preparing for a 30,000-troop expansion in Afghanistan. And they will need ISRs — intellligence, surveillance and reconnaissance products. Those are vehicles, manned and unmanned, and the accessories that go with them that can be deployed quickly.

In fact, Army General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, told a Senate committee, "There’s almost no amount of ISR, in my view, that would not be value added to my effort in Afghanistan."

Indiana has a growing defense industry, with state officials recently compiling more expansive information on the key players and their assets. Will the state benefit directly from this opportunity? I’m not sure our capabilities are at that level, but maybe I’m off base. I do know of some Hoosier companies that have been big beneficiaries of military contracts in other areas. Can anyone provide more insight?

Let’s leave the "should we be there or not?" thoughts out of this discussion. We are, products are needed to support our troops, our state makes things and I don’t think anyone is in a position to turn down development that means more jobs and healthier businesses.