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Donnelly Pushes Dodd-Frank Reforms; Walorski Testifies on Opioid Crisis; and More Federal Briefs

2017-10-13T11:46:54+00:00 October 13th, 2017|

Indiana’s Joe Donnelly was among the Democrat senators on the Senate Banking Committee pushing the chairman for bipartisan regulatory relief to end Obama-era financial regulations. The group asked chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) to “reach an agreement on a regulatory reform package that can come before the committee” – and by the end of the year. The Democrats are backing a 2015 bipartisan bill that former committee chairman Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) never brought up for a vote. That measure would have rolled back and amended various aspects of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that financial institutions have pointed to as slowing economic growth. The Indiana Chamber believes the authority directed by Dodd-Frank has resulted in vast overreach that is costly for financial institutions (to comply with) and, ultimately, their customers.

This week, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health about the nationwide opioid epidemic and the related problem of chronic pain. (Video of Walorski testifying is available here.) “Pain is the number one reason why Americans seek health care, the number one cause of disability, and costs the U.S. economy more than $600 billion in direct health care costs and lost productivity,” Walorski said. “The veteran population is particularly impacted by the chronic pain crisis, with more than 50% of VA patients reporting chronic pain. We can reduce demand by more effectively treating chronic pain and providing better access to FDA-approved non-opioid pharmaceuticals, advanced medical devices and integrated alternative therapies.” At the hearing, Walorski outlined three policy priorities for addressing the related problems of opioid abuse and chronic pain: recognizing the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach to pain management; promoting cutting-edge research to encourage effective alternatives to opioids; and advancing best practices in pain management within Medicare.

President Trump has tapped Stephen Akard, formerly of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), to be director general of the foreign service for the State Department. Akard served as chief of staff, vice president, general counsel and director of international development for the IEDC during his long tenure that concluded in January 2017. Previously, he was an officer in the foreign service, with time spent in India and Belgium.

Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, made the following statement Thursday regarding the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): “UNESCO has a long history of anti-Israel bias and passed resolutions stripping away the historical links between the Jewish people and holy sites. Given that U.S. law prohibits the funding of U.N. organizations that grant full membership to the Palestinian Authority, as UNESCO did in 2011, this is the right decision by the Trump administration. America must affirm that we will stand with our close ally.”

Senator Todd Young is pushing for federal investment in the South Shore Rail Line, which will be a “boon for the Northwest Indiana economy.” Watch his comments this week to INside Indiana Business.

On Thursday, Congresswoman Walorski was appointed by Speaker Paul Ryan to serve on the conference committee tasked with reaching a final agreement on the annual defense policy bill. “Our servicemen and women risk their lives every day to keep America safe, and we need to give them the tools, training and support necessary to defeat any threat,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “I am honored to work with my colleagues to ensure we send a bill to the president’s desk that rebuilds our military, supports our troops both on and off the battlefield, and keeps our nation secure.” The House in July passed its version of the NDAA (H.R. 2810), which would authorize $696.1 billion in defense funding, an increase of 10% over the previous year. It would fully fund the 2.4% pay raise servicemembers are entitled to under the law – the biggest in eight years – and boost investment in maintenance, training and personnel. It would also maintain existing prohibitions on closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay or transferring terrorist detainees to U.S. soil.