SOUTH BEND – U.S. Sen. Todd Young is a Republican who is unafraid of reaching across the aisle for rare bipartisan passage of major legislation. And he doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the presidency and the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol was criminal. 
     
Indiana’s senior senator co-sponsored the legislation aimed at strengthening America in competition with China in technology, science and cyber research and development, providing nearly $250 billion to do so.
     
It passed 68-32 in the Senate last week and is likely to win House approval and be signed into law by President Biden.
     
The bill, described by the New York Times as providing “the most significant government intervention in industrial policy in decades,” won Senate approval only after a battle of amendments. Opposition came from some Republicans expressing fear of too much government intervention in the economy.
     
Nineteen of the 50 Republican senators voted for it, with Young as co-sponsor helping to bring the extensive bipartisan support.
     
“Our party is changing,” Young said in an interview in South Bend. “Our party is coming to understand there are certain federal investments that are essential, as long as they are made in a targeted and responsible fashion.”
     
Successful competition with China is essential, Young said, and that’s why he reached across the aisle to work on the legislation with the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader.
     
Isn’t a Republican reaching across to Schumer like reaching into a tiger’s cage? Not this time.
     
“For the good of the country, Felix and Oscar came together and forged an odd couple to confront the Chinese Communist Party,” Young said. “I trusted Sen. Schumer. He trusted me.”
     
Young, with solid Republican credentials, campaigned for Donald Trump last year. But he isn’t among Republicans questioning legitimacy of the presidential election. 
     
He voted to certify the election results on Jan. 6, the day Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.
     
Earlier that day, when confronted by protesters, Young told them, as recorded in a news video, that he shared their disappointment over Trump losing but that “the law matters” and he had taken “an oath under God” to uphold the Constitution.
     
Young sharply criticized the criminal activities of protesters who entered the Capitol and forced senators and staff to flee the Senate chamber and seek safety in a secret location. He did not, however, vote for a commission to investigate the insurrection. He labeled that proposal as “a cynical ploy” to harm GOP election chances next year.
     
He said that in traveling the state he has found no antagonism among constituents over his views about Jan. 6.
     
“The vast majority of Hoosiers are incredibly saddened by that day that I would characterize as an act of domestic terrorism,” Young said. “Those terrorists tried to interrupt peaceful transition of power and violated our cathedral of democracy.”
     
While hurrying to safety, as protesters swarmed through the Capitol, Young found himself next to a staffer carrying a wooden box with leather handles that contained the official election certificates from the states.
     
Young said he offered to help carry the box. The staffer said thanks, he related, but she declined help, saying she had a duty to carry the box to safety and maintain the chain of custody. 
     
“I was inspired by that sense of duty,” Young said. And he walked along beside the staffer as they looked out for danger and hurried toward safety.
     
What if protesters had taken the box and destroyed the certificates?
     
Even that could not have changed the results of the election, Young said. The presidential change he seeks is through defeat of President Biden in 2024 by a Republican who “campaigns on a platform more consistent with the mainstream of American opinion and policy.”        

Colwell has covered Indiana politics over five decades for the South Bend Tribune.