Maureen Hayden: Young focuses on coming policy agenda
Thursday, November 10, 2016 10:11 AM
INDIANAPOLIS – Republicans in Congress and President-elect Donald Trump have promised swift work to undo laws and orders written during the Obama administration, starting with the Affordable Care Act. Before that happens, one of the newest members of the U.S. Senate has some less flashy business in mind.
U.S. Rep. Todd Young, elected Tuesday to fill the Senate seat vacated by the retiring Dan Coats, said he’s focused on what happens in Washington between now and January. The congressman from Bloomington specifically hopes to get a favored bill on welfare reform onto the agenda of the lame-duck session of Congress that starts next week.
Young said the bill, which he authored, creates “social impact” partnerships to reward states for programs that move people from welfare into jobs. Passed unanimously in the House, it has support from Democrats in the Senate but has failed to move forward.
“Frankly, that’s where my head is right now,” he told reporters over morning coffee Wednesday, just hours after a stunning election night spent here in Indianapolis.
Congress in the coming weeks also faces a crucial vote to keep the government running for another two years with a $1 trillion funding bill. It’s a piece of difficult business put off in September by lawmakers who reached a stop-gap agreement to keep the government open through Dec. 9.
Young said he’s hoping that Congress faced with dozen of pieces undone legislation, will act on two bills important to him, including the welfare reform and a proposal to speed development of new drugs to cure deadly diseases.
Hours earlier, Young ended Tuesday night by celebrating his role in the Republican Party’s dramatic effort to keep control of the Senate. Once in his new office on Capitol Hill, Young pledged to do a constitutional duty to be a check on the White House.
But when he went to bed Tuesday, Young said he wasn’t absolutely certain whom the next occupant would be.
The presidential race had not yet been called for Trump. Young’s wife, Jenny, who stayed up late, told him the results.
For Young, whose election Tuesday with 52% of the vote ended the 30-year winning streak of former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, the final weeks of 2016 are taking precedence over what will happen in the Trump administration. The 114th Congress still has business to do before it adjourns Dec. 16. “It’s one of those rare moments that presents an opportunity to actually get some things done,” he said.
Still, Young was cautious about promising too much.
When Congress returns to Washington next week, it will be with a keen sense of what he calls the “polarization” of the nation.
Trump, having won the Electoral College vote needed to become president, appears to have narrowly lost the popular vote to his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, although votes were still being counted Wendesday.
“It’s also amazing what doesn’t get done in a lame-duck session,” Young said. “It’s a really unpredictable dynamic time.”
Maureen Hayden covers the Indiana Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MaureenHayden