Washington, D.C. - Today, the House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Budget Resolution (S. Con. Res. 3) by a vote of 227 to 198. Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-IN05) voted in favor of the resolution and released the following statement:
“Today, I voted for a bill that sets the table for debate and discussion about repealing the Affordable Care Act and rebuilding our healthcare system. No action in Congress this week changes healthcare coverage for anyone. Today, we took the first step towards the kind of healthcare system that Hoosiers need. A healthcare system that is more affordable, more accessible, and puts their care back into their hands. I am personally committed to a smooth transition and to ensuring that we protect coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and that young adults and kids under 26 can stay on their parent’s plan.”
For more information, watch the first episode of the Brooks’ new video series, “What I’m Hearing”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFzqIwx8oCgRead More
Washington, D.C. – Following the inauguration of Governor Eric Holcomb to serve as Governor of the State of Indiana, Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) released the following statement:
“Congratulations to my friend, Governor Eric Holcomb, as he becomes Indiana's 51st Governor today. I am confident that with his leadership, the Hoosier state will rise to the next level. I look forward to working together with both Gov. Holcomb and Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch to help get more Hoosiers back to work; to rebuild our roads; to address the continuing heroin and opioid abuse crisis; and to continue to make Indiana a great place to live, to work and to grow.”Read More
House Republicans did something significant this week that didn’t gain much notice in the press: Rep. Diane Black was named interim Budget Committee chair.
On the face it, perhaps a new committee chair, and an interim, at that, is not noteworthy. But Ms. Black (R., Tenn.), is one of three Republican women serving as committee chairs this term. Together these legislators will not only help shape the debate on critical issues, they’ll help the Republican Party begin to tell a different story than what has been the case historically for women in the House.
As Budget Committee chair, Ms. Black will play a prominent role on a signature issue, Obamacare replacement legislation. The former nurse, who has decades of experience in health care, will be able to hit the ground running while Rep. Tom Price, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services and her predecessor on the committee, prepares for Senate confirmation hearings.
Ms. Black’s appointment is a much-needed improvement within the House Republican Caucus. Former Rep. Candice Miller, a respected and hardworking Republican member, served as chair of the House Administration Committee in the 113th and 114th Congress. But beyond that, Republican women in the chamber have struggled to obtain leadership positions.
During the 2013 government shutdown, the struggle was clear as House Republican leadership hatched a plan to appoint a special committee of select House Republicans to negotiate with the Senate to re-open the government. It was a foolproof plan: Republicans would convene a meeting and press event with members sitting down, sleeves rolled up, ready to negotiate with the Senate, knowing that Senate Democrats would dismiss the idea (as they did). One problem: There were no women on the negotiating committee. This was immediately obvious to the media, but not to the staff (myself included) who worked on building the committee.
In the process of building the committee, some members–knowing full well that the negotiations would never come to fruition–objected to this member or that member being on the committee. Twice, female House Republicans were scratched from the committee, and so there were none. In other words, we were unable to put women on a fake committee. This was not lost on Democrats, and it blew up in Republicans’ faces–as it should have.
Ms. Black is joined by two other women this year. Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.) is the new chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee. In 2013, perhaps no member of Congress worked harder on moving a bill than Ms. Foxx did on the Skills Act, legislation reforming federal jobs training programs. It is no exaggeration to say that Ms. Foxx’s successful efforts in 2013 – the bill was signed into law – are why she is a committee chair in 2017. She was so persistent that many of the members – and this former staffer – to whom she pressed her case can still hear her reminding them of her disdain if the term job training was used in reference to the bill, telling us, “You train a dog, not people!”
The House Select Committee on Ethics is also run by a woman, Rep. Susan Brooks (R., Ind.). The Ethics Committee is viewed as a “short-straw” committee, one that members are hesitant to join or lead. That’s not the case for Ms. Brooks however. A former criminal lawyer and U.S. attorney, she is uniquely qualified for this role.
Republicans shouldn’t injure themselves patting themselves on the back. Three committee chairs won’t erase the gender gap Republicans have seen up and down the ballot for years. But, this does help change what has been a sore point for Republicans for years.Read More
Washington, D.C. – Following the nomination of Indiana’s former U.S. Senator Dan Coats to serve as Director of National Intelligence, Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN) released the following statement:
“I want to commend President-Elect Trump on his nomination of Hoosier Senator Dan Coats to serve as Director of National Intelligence in his Administration. Senator Coats is a dedicated public servant who can use his expertise and experience as an Army veteran, a former U.S. Ambassador to Germany after 9/11, and a former member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees to help keep our country safe and to better coordinate our intelligence gathering capabilities.”Read More
U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th District, applauded the removal of proposed reforms to the Office of Congressional Ethics.
The House Republican Conference met Monday night at a closed door meeting and voted 119-74 to approve a package of reforms to the OCE. Following a tweet from President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday that criticized the approval, the HRC reversed the decision.
Communications director for Brooks, Kristen Johnson, said that Brooks voted against the measure on Monday.
Brooks, who is also the new chairwoman of the House Ethics Committee, said in a statement that there are still some reforms that were worthy of discussion.
“As incoming Chairwoman of the House Ethics Committee I am committed to working with my colleagues on the House Ethics Committee to come to a bipartisan agreement on a path forward,” she said in the statement.
The amendment was proposed by U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. According to a statement from Brooks, the proposal included changing the name of the OCE to the Office of Congressional Complaint Review; providing greater due process rights to members, staff and other witnesses; limiting allegations to the third previous congress; and giving oversight to the Office to the House Ethics Committee.
The OCE was created in 2008 as an independent body to investigate allegations of misconduct by lawmakers. Ultimately, the amendment approved Monday night would have given control of the OCE to the lawmakers themselves.
Like Brooks, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., argued against the amendment. In a statement issued Tuesday, he insisted that the OCE would continue to be independently operated despite the changes.
“All members of Congress are required to earn the public’s trust every single day, and this House will hold members accountable to the people,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Republican Conference removed an amendment to the House Rules that makes some reforms to the manner in which the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) conducts its work. Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05), incoming Chairwoman of the House Ethics Committee, released the following statement in response.
“I applaud the decision to remove the proposed reforms to the Office of Congressional Ethics from the House Rules voted on today. Many of these reforms are worthy of discussion and debate, and as incoming Chairwoman of the House Ethics Committee I am committed to working with my colleagues on the House Ethics Committee to come to a bipartisan agreement on a path forward. Together, we can preserve the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics, maintain the highest ethical standards of the House, and ensure that the American people are informed.”Read More
Washington, D.C. – Last night, the House Republican Conference adopted an amendment to the House Rules that makes some reforms to the manner in which the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) conducts its work. Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05), incoming Chairwoman of the House Ethics Committee, released the following statement.
“The Office has an important role to play in restoring confidence in Congress, and it will continue to perform its work in the new Congress as the Office of Congressional Complaint Review. As the incoming Chairwoman of the House Committee on Ethics, I will work in a bipartisan manner with the Office to ensure its independence and to maintain the highest ethical standards of the House. I will not interfere with the bipartisan independent board that governs the Office or prevent it from doing its work.”
The amendment offered last night by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA06) helps ensure OCE’s important work is conducted in the manner by which it was intended in the new Congress. The amendment does not change the core mission of the Office of Congressional Complaint Review – accepting and reviewing complaints by the public regarding Members and staff and making a recommendation to the House Ethics Committee regarding those allegations. The Office will continue to be governed by a bipartisan independent board with ultimate decision-making authority. The Office is still expected to take in complaints of wrongdoing from the public. It will still investigate them thoroughly and independently. And the outside board will still decide whether or not evidence exists to warrant a full investigation by the House Ethics Committee. Some of the changes implemented by the amendment include:
WASHINGTON — Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks, the incoming head of the House Ethics Committee, applauded Tuesday fellow Republicans' reversal of efforts to rein in an independent ethics office — a hasty retreat by the GOP after watchdog groups and President-elect Donald Trump criticized the move.
But Brooks said many of the changes Republicans had voted Monday to include in a package of rules to be adopted by the GOP-controlled House Tuesday are worthy of discussion. She said she would work with her Republican and Democratic colleagues on the committee "to come up with a bipartisan agreement on a path forward."
"Together, we can preserve the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics, maintain the highest ethical standards of the House, and ensure that the American people are informed," the Carmel Republican said in a statement.
The controversy over GOP plans to sharply curtail the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics overshadowed the opening day of Congress, where Republicans control both chambers and soon will welcome a Republican president for the first time in eight years.
"House Republicans made the right move in eliminating this amendment that should never have seen the light of day," said David Donnelly, president and CEO of Every Voice watchdog group, on Tuesday. "Not one voter went to the polls in November hoping Congress would gut ethics oversight."
How lawmakers voted in the meeting was not made public. Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said Hoosiers should ask their lawmakers where they stand.
“How did Jackie Walorski, Luke Messer and the rest of the Indiana Republican delegation vote on this?” Zody said in a statement. “We don’t know, and while they continue their silence, they are now opening the doors to the same practices they campaigned against just months ago.”
Brooks and Walorski said in statements they opposed the change.
Newly-elected Rep. Jim Banks said he would have preferred the ethics issue had been addressed “in a more thoughtful way” but declined to specify how he voted Monday.
Other GOP members of the delegation did not immediately respond to a request for comment, or declined to say how they voted.
Banks is succeeding former Rep. Marlin Stutzman, who had been investigated by the independent ethics office. The House Ethics Committee took no action before Stutzman retired on the independent office's conclusion that Stutzman may have improperly used campaign funds to pay for a personal family trip to California. But the current rules required the Ethics Committee to acknowledge it had received the independent group's review and release those findings.
Trump questioned Tuesday why lawmakers would first act on changing the independent ethics body. “With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority,” Trump tweeted.
The overhaul, crafted by House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., would have subjected the watchdog group to oversight by the lawmaker-controlled House Ethics Committee and bar the independent ethics agency from investigating anonymous complaints against House members.
It also sought to prevent the agency from reviewing potential criminal acts by members of Congress — and instead would have required that it hand over those complaints to the House Ethics Committee or law enforcement.
Goodlatte said his changes were needed to grant better “due-process rights for individuals under investigation." He said they would still maintain independent agency's “primary area of focus of accepting and reviewing complaints from the public and referring them, if appropriate, to the Committee on Ethics.”
Trump's objections to the House Republican action appeared to center more on timing of the move, rather than the substance of the decision to rein in the independent watchdog.
Asked whether Trump wanted House Republicans to strengthen the ethics office, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Tuesday morning that “it’s not a question of strengthening or weakening.”
“It's a question of priorities” and Trump’s “belief that with all that this country wants … to have happen, this really shouldn't be the priority," Spicer said.
His comments came before House Republicans reversed course.
Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indianapolis, said he was relieved by the reversal.
"With all of the challenges that America faces today, I am deeply concerned that this was the first action that was being considered in the 115th Congress," Carson said in a statement. "I hope this is not indicative of the direction Congress is headed over the next two years.”
Democratic leaders and ethics watchdogs swiftly denounced the Republicans’ move Monday night — and called it a stealth maneuver to eviscerate the agency without public debate.
“Republicans claim they want to ‘drain the swamp,’ but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House GOP has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Monday night.
"Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress," she added.
“In shameful act, @BobGoodlatte6 moves to gut House Office of Congressional Ethics,” Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute wrote on Twitter. “House Republicans say goodbye to ethics! Despicable move.”
Several ethics watchdogs, who have called on Trump to divest his business enterprises before taking office, also sought to tie the Republicans’ moves on Capitol Hill to Trump, who made "draining the swamp" a mantra of his presidential campaign.
Trump has said he will turn over his real-estate and branding empire to his two adults sons and executives to manage. In an effort to reduce potential conflicts, he and his family have announced plans in recent weeks to shutter family foundations and have settled disputes with workers at Trump hotels. But few details have emerged on how Trump will distance himself legally from his vast holdings.
“The House Republicans are taking a cue from the leader of the party in their flagrant disregard for ethics,” said Norm Eisen, who served as President Obama’s top ethics lawyer and is chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. He called the ethics agency “one of the gems of our system of checks and balances.”
“If this is what one-party rule looks like in the era of Trump," Eisen said, "I do not believe the American people will stand for it for very long."Read More
INDIANAPOLIS - What will the new year bring, with a new Republican administration and new Congress in Washington?
In the video above, we talk with Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) about several of the big issues Congress will be facing in 2017, including the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
"We want to infuse competition into the marketplace. Right now fewer and fewer health insurance companies are participating," said Brooks. "We want to transition it in appropriately so people do not lose their health insurance. I know there's definitely concerns about that."
Brooks will serve as House ethics chair in the new year, and has been mentioned as a potential candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018, but in the video above, she dismisses that speculation to focus on the year ahead.Read More
Concerns about Russian interference during the 2016 campaign are mounting, as lawmakers discuss the potential for a Congressional investigation.
Two Republicans and two Democrats called for an investigation into American intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russian hacking was intended to help President-elect Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.
“Congress’s national security committees have worked diligently to address the complex challenge of cybersecurity, but recent events show that more must be done,” said Sens. Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate Democratic leader, Sen. John McCain, the Armed Services Committee chairman, fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, and Sen. Jack Reed, the top Armed Services Committee Democrat, in a joint statement last week.
“While protecting classified material, we have an obligation to inform the public about recent cyberattacks that have cut to the heart of our free society. Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyber-attacks.”
The letter is an implicit rebuke of Trump, who has questioned whether Russia actually interfered with the election, including with hacks of Democratic operatives, and came two days after Trump sided with Russia over the CIA and attacked the US intelligence assessment of Russia’s role.
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Trump’s transition team said in a terse, unsigned statement targeting the CIA last Friday.
“The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.'”
The transition team’s reference to the agency’s most humiliating recent intelligence misfire — over its conclusion that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction — threatens to cast an early cloud over relations between the Trump White House and the CIA, whose assessments he’ll need to make monumental decisions.
The top leadership of the agency that presided over the Iraq failure during the Bush administration has long since been replaced. But the comments from Trump’s camp will cause concern in the Intelligence community about the incoming President’s attitude to America’s spy agencies. CNN reported last week that Trump is getting intelligence briefings only once a week. Several previous presidents preparing for the inauguration had a more intense briefing schedule.
In the video above, Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) & Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) discuss the possibility of a Congressional investigation, and the President-elect's response to the situation.
"I do think it's incredibly important for us to make sure the American people have faith in the election process, so when there are claims of hacking, I think it's very important for us to investigate those... I'm pleased that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have endorsed the idea that an investigation needs to take place" said Brooks.
"When you have directives coming from Moscow, or a Presidential candidate making overtures during the campaign to 'hack the emails, hack them all,' that is the kind of gamesmanship that is poisonous," said Carson.
Carson also weighed in on Trump's intelligence briefing routine:
"Mr. Trump needs to be in those meetings... if you're going to take a laissez-faire approach to getting intelligence briefings because they sound redundant and you can't contain your ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), then that's problematic."
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Congresswoman Susan Brooks represents the 5th District of Indiana, which spans eight diverse counties throughout the central part of the Hoosier State. As a new member of Congress, she currently serves on the Education and Workforce, Homeland Security and Ethics Committees. She is also the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications.
Her strong background in both the public and private sectors includes experience as a proven difference maker in areas such as public safety, homeland security, counter-terrorism and economic development.
Before joining the House of Representatives, Susan served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Ivy Tech Community College. Collaborating with a wide network or stakeholders, she implemented workforce development strategies aiming to enhance job training and placement for thousands of Hoosier residents.
In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Susan as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. Serving as the chief federal law enforcement officer for a majority of the Hoosier state, she received bi-partisan acclaim for efforts to battle mortgage fraud, gun violence, drug trafficking, gangs, child exploitation and identity theft.
Susan also earned recognition as Deputy Mayor of Indianapolis during the Steve Goldsmith administration, where she provided oversight on public safety operations and drove community dialogue on vital civic issues. Over her tenure, she managed police, fire and emergency response efforts while serving on boards related to criminal justice, community corrections, violence reduction and race relations.
Susan practiced law at the Indianapolis firm of Ice Miller and also served as a criminal defense attorney for Indianapolis based McClure, McClure and Kammen.
After receiving her undergraduate degree from Miami University of Ohio, Susan pursued a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. In May of 2013, Susan was awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from Marian University in Indianapolis. She resides in Carmel, Indiana with her husband David and they have two young adult children.
Tonight, we're voting to protect you from scammers who use "spoofing" to hide their ID when making texts/calls. More-https://t.co/6rUtXOeFQO
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Love seeing GOP women leading our Conference: https://t.co/knRVDUCcgQ
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Fun fact: The National Cathedral was built from gray Indiana limestone.
Tonight, the House, with my support, will take action to prevent Americans from receiving fraudulent calls or text messages from unscrupulous
Today is a day to celebrate democracy and to bring our country together. Many Hoosiers from the Fifth District have traveled a great distance
For a behind the scenes look at today's inauguration, follow me on Snapchat!
Just a few of the Hoosiers who came by our office this week to pick up their tickets for today's inauguration! To all who are already gathering
Check out our next episode of 'What I'm Hearing"! This week, I address some of the concerns about repealing the Affordable Care Act and questions