A bill introduced by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to extend the duration of a demonstration program that allows individuals with chronic mental illnesses to seek the help they need without becoming stuck in the revolving door of emergency room visits, relapses, jail, homelessness, and death, is now on track to be signed into law. The just-passed S. 599, Improving Access to Emergency Psychiatric Care Act of 2015, will allow Medicaid to provide matching funds to states to reimburse the treatment of severely mentally ill individuals between the ages of 21 and 64 at psychiatric hospitals with more than 16 beds. U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) was an original cosponsor of the legislation. Representatives John Sarbanes (D-Md.-03) and Susan Brooks (R-Ind.-05) were lead sponsors in the House.
“Too often Americans with emergency mental health needs are unable to receive the care they need due to bureaucratic red tape,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care. “This bipartisan legislation helps ensure individuals in crisis are treated like patients, and not warehoused or — as is too often the case — ignored. By working with the states, the federal government can be a partner in saving lives as well as vital resources.”
“A psychiatric bed shortage is causing many severely mentally ill individuals to go without medical treatment, and instead, winding up in prison or on the streets. Our bipartisan, budget-neutral legislation continues an important demonstration project that helps the mentally ill access quality, life-saving care from freestanding psychiatric hospitals,” said Senator Toomey.
In 2010, Congress authorized this demonstration project to alleviate the shortage of psychiatric beds in 11 states and the District of Colombia by allowing federal Medicaid matching payments to freestanding psychiatric hospitals for emergency psychiatric cases. Despite very promising preliminary results, the demonstration is set to end on December 15, 2015. The Improving Access to Emergency Psychiatric Care Act of 2015 will build on the early success of this demonstration by extending the program through September 30, 2016, when the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be required to submit a report to Congress with her recommendations based on the final evaluation. After the report is submitted to Congress, the Act would also allow the Secretary of HHS to extend the program for additional three years and/or expand it to include other states. At the completion of those three additional years, the project would come to a close unless Congress acts to extend it. The demonstration would be required to remain budget neutral.
Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN5) will visit Our Lady of Mount Carmel (OLMC) School to recognize OLMC School on being named a National Blue Ribbon School.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recognized OLMC School in September as one of 335 National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2015, and one of only 50 private schools, based on their overall academic excellence. During her visit, the Congresswoman will meet with the newly elected members of the OLMC student council, tour the school, and take questions from the student body.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students either achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap. OLMC School was named an ‘Exemplary High Performing School,’ meaning that it is among Indiana’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests and student performance and high school graduation rates are among the highest levels. OLMC School is one of only ten schools in the state of Indiana to receive the National Blue Ribbon designation this year, and was recognized in a ceremony in early November in Washington, D.C. The OLMC School application for the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program is available online here: http://nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov/awardwinners/winning/15in145pv_our_lady_of_mount_carmel_school.html
Our Lady of Mount Carmel School strives to be “a Christ-Centered community that provides excellence in education to meet the needs of the whole child.” Located just north of Indianapolis in Carmel, Indiana, this K-8 Catholic school serves 665 students. Begun in 1956, the school sees its mission as one of the ministries of the parish community. The relationships that thrive among families, faculty, religious sisters, students, and alumni exemplify the school’s strength. The common vision of the school as a family united in Christ can be seen as students, parents, and faculty move purposefully together in faith toward the goal of union with Christ. Combined with the mutual support between faculty and parents, the spirit of a strong family atmosphere prevails at the school.
OLMC’s strong Catholic identity is seen in common prayer at Mass, daily school-wide morning and afternoon prayers, and prayer in classrooms throughout the day. Priests and parishioners assist in catechesis for the students. Since its founding, religious orders have taught and administered in the school; the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation from Nashville, Tennessee, began serving here in 2003. The parish’s tithing model provides a tuition-free education to children of all registered parishioners.
A strong academic curriculum is enhanced by a wide variety of extracurricular activities such as band, choir, and athletics. In order to adequately serve the students’ academic needs in the 21st century, the school encourages and supports both students and teachers to work with a variety of technological tools for education. To learn more about OLMC School, please visit its website at: http://www.olmc1.org/school/.Read More
This week Congress passed and will send to the President bipartisan legislation to improve access to emergency psychiatric care for adult Medicaid beneficiaries.
On Monday the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed S.599, the Improving Access to Emergency Psychiatric Care Act of 2015. This legislation was passed by unanimous consent by the Senate earlier this fall and given final Senate approval on Thursday. The legislation will now go to President Obama for signature.
The measure was originally introduced by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Patrick Toomey (R-PA), and Susan Collins (R-ME) to keep alive the Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration Project, which would have ended this year without Congressional action. Identical legislation (H.R.3681) was introduced by Reps. John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Susan Brooks (R-IN) in the House.
The budget-neutral bill allows 10 states and the District of Columbia to continue to serve adult Medicaid beneficiaries (ages 21-64) who would otherwise be prohibited from accessing short-term acute care in psychiatric hospitals because of the "Institutions for Mental Disease" (IMD) exclusion. The bill also gives the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary discretion to expand the demonstration nationwide.
"As an association representing professionals and facilities delivering behavioral health care, the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (NAPHS) commends Congress for taking bipartisan action to address the critical need for timely access to life-saving psychiatric hospital treatment," said NAPHS President and CEO Mark Covall. "We especially want to thank the outstanding leadership of Sens, Cardin, Toomey, and Collins along with Reps. Sarbanes and Brooks, all of whom worked tirelessly to get this legislation passed. The three-year demonstration has proven that it can make a real difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable Americans by giving adults with mental illnesses and substance use disorders access to the same hospital treatment that their Medicaid insurance card covers for other conditions," Covall said.
"The passage of this legislation is another step in making the types of reforms needed to save lives, communities, and money," Covall added. "Now we need to continue this momentum by passing comprehensive mental health reform that includes a permanent fix to the IMD exclusion for short-term psychiatric hospital care."
The National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (NAPHS) advocates for behavioral health and represents provider systems that are committed to the delivery of responsive, accountable, and clinically effective prevention, treatment, and care for children, adolescents, adults, and older adults with mental and substance use disorders. Its members are behavioral healthcare provider organizations that own or manage more than 800 specialty psychiatric hospitals, general hospital psychiatric and addiction treatment units and behavioral healthcare divisions, residential treatment facilities, youth services organizations, and extensive outpatient networks. The association was founded in 1933.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) voted in favor of H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015. The SAFE Act establishes the most robust national security vetting process in our nation’s history, providing the safeguards needed to ensure that we are doing everything possible to prevent terrorists and foreign fighters from reaching our shores.
“America leads the world in humanitarian assistance, and has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees to our country,” Brooks said. “However, our first priority is to ensure the safety and security of the American people. Our own intelligence shows that ISIS is seeking to exploit gaps in our process for refugees. Leaders of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the Intelligence Community have all testified that we do not have the necessary intelligence to properly vet refugees from Syria and Iraq. The SAFE Act makes sure that the refugee process is not exploited by terrorists and foreign fighters, but is able to facilitate the resettlement of individuals who are not a threat to the United States and who may be fleeing from terrorists in their home country.”
The SAFE Act bars admission to the United States of any proposed Syrian or Iraqi refugee until the nation’s top security officials—the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the FBI, and the Director of National Intelligence—unanimously verify that the individual does not pose a security threat. Specifically, under this legislation, no refugee from Iraq or Syria will be admitted to the United States unless:
It also creates an additional layer of protection by requiring the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General to independently assess the refugee approvals—making sure high-risk individuals do not slip through the cracks.
NOBLESVILLE, Ind.— Today, Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-IN05) is hosting Connecting Careers and Classrooms: Health Care at Riverview Hospital with educators and health care employers from the fifth district to discuss ways to prepare young Hoosiers for the jobs of the 21st century. More than 75 middle and high school teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators are scheduled to participate in the event which is designed to help educators learn about and share the wide variety of career opportunities available to their students in a given field.
“There is an information gap out there,” Brooks said. “So many of our students don’t know about the career opportunities that exist in the industries right in our backyard. Through our Connecting Careers and Classrooms events, we’re helping to bridge that gap by giving educators, people who have a tremendous influence on our kids, the opportunity to see first-hand the variety of careers available today. We picked the health care industry as the focus of today’s event because nearly 10 percent of Indiana’s workforce is in health care, and that number is growing.”
Connecting Careers and Classrooms: Health Care features seven health care industry partners and several district schools who will be showcasing existing career development programs that seek to engage students in health care fields. Participating educators will hear panel discussions on careers in patient care, support and indirect care, and on how to build effective partnerships between local schools and the health care industry. In addition, educators will tour the Riverview Health facility and have the opportunity to network with other participants.
“There’s a shortage of nurses and doctors in Indiana,” Brooks continued. “Over half the counties in our state have been designated medically underserved, and we’ve got to engage more young people in health care careers to help meet the needs of our communities and continue to attract businesses and talent to our region. This is about the careers of the future, and getting young Hoosiers ready to meet the challenges and opportunities those careers present. I greatly appreciate all of our health care industry partners, and I hope participants in today’s event walk away with good information and some new ideas about how to inspire and engage the next generation of health care leaders.”
Today’s event features representatives from Riverview Hospital, IU Health, Miller’s Health Systems, Dr. Desiree Dimond, DDS, St. Vincent Health, Community Health Network and Express Scripts. Local schools asked to discuss existing health care career development programs include Tipton High School, Anderson High School, Marion High School, Blackford High School, Noblesville High School and Hamilton Heights High School.
This is the fourth Connecting Careers and Classrooms event that Congresswoman Brooks has hosted for fifth district educators since being elected to Congress. Previous events have focused on careers in agribusiness, technology and life sciences. Including participants at today’s event, more than 300 educators have attended Connecting Careers and Classrooms. Participants who attend have the opportunity to earn continuing education credit along with the chance to connect with top employers in the area.
More information about the Connecting Careers and Classrooms event series and a complete list of speakers and panelists participating in today’s event is available online here.Read More
A version of this originally appeared in the excellent blog created by former Washington Post reporter Pete Earley, author of Crazy, A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness.
The bipartisan Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR2646) was recently passed by the Health Subcommittee and received a big boost when House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed it in an unaired 60 Minutes clip. But sitting in the room watching the committee consider the bill was like attending two separate plays going on simultaneously. One play, about substantive ways to help the most seriously mentally ill was put on by Republicans. Democrats put on the other play. It demonstrated how far they had been misled by the mental health industry. It pains me to say that because I am a Democrat.
The Substance of the Bill
Historically, mental health bills in Congress have thrown money at politically correct, feel-good programs that let mental health industry engage in easy and palatable tasks like "reducing stigma," "education" or "improving mental health," but rarely deliver actual treatment to adults with serious mental illness. HR2646 has provisions to improve mental health, but it also has five provisions that start to focus government programs on delivering treatment to adults with serious mental illness. The support for the shift is coming primarily from families of the seriously ill and Republicans who want to reduce crime, incarceration and tragedies. While they were joined by 45 Democrat co-sponsors, led by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, most Democrats have been taught to avoid those issues for fear of causing stigma.
Following is a preliminary analysis of how the five most important provisions came out of the markup, followed by a discussion of what went on at the hearing.
At the hearing.
The markup room was packed for a dramatic hearing that went on for ten hours. The entire first row behind Congressional staff was lined by families of the seriously ill who asked Rep. Murphy (R., PA) if they could attend to support his efforts and those of the 117 Republican and 45 Democrat cosponsors. What united the families was compassion and love for seriously mentally ill adults who need care, not any particular party affiliation. The meeting started with a powerful speech by Rep. Tim Murphy about the need to help the seriously ill. Rep. Susan Brooks (R., IN) also made a powerful speech demonstrating her understanding of the revolving door of non-treatment the mental health industry has created for the most seriously ill.
The Democrats led off by complaining they weren't consulted about the bill, but their real beef seems to be that the provisions above were not stricken from the bill. They introduced a last-minute 250-page mental health bill they had never shown to Republicans. Rep. Murphy stated he would look at it to see what could be folded into his bill, but explained that since no one was given time to read the bill he would not recommend voting for it at this particular meeting so it failed to pass. The Dems then presented about 40 amendments, many of which were designed to strike the provisions above that help the most seriously ill. Other amendments created new programs for multiple needy populations, but not for adults with serious mental illness. Most failed, but an amendment from Cardenas (D. CA) passed that would allow states to 'suspend' rather than 'terminate' Medicaid benefits to kids who get incarcerated, which makes it easier to restart the benefits when incarceration ends. One from Butterfield (D., NC) passed concerning training a minority workforce. And an amendment from Rep. Matsui (D., CA) that would provide education about what HIPAA does and doesn't allow was also passed.
During the 10-hour hearing it became apparent that Democrats had been successfully misled by SAMHSA and others who advocate for the highest-functioning. Party members didn't seem to understand the difference between high functioning people and those with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder who are not high functioning. Nor did they understand the difference between someone who is psychotic and believes the FBI planted a transmitter in her head, and someone who is sad or anxious because they are going through a tough time in their life. The Democrats on the subcommittee rarely used the phrase "mental illness," preferring "mental health" or "behavioral health" or mental health "issues." It's as if "mental illness" was a pejorative, not to be uttered in good company. Rep. Gene Green (D., TX) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D., NJ) came off as particularly misled about the nature of serious mental illness and what helps those with it.
The Dems proposed funding "prevention." But serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar can not be prevented because we don't know what causes them. They used the claim of "civil rights" to oppose reform, but failed to understand how the status-quo keeps the seriously ill locked in jail or psychosis both of which prevent meaningful exercise of free-will. They supported funding "early intervention," but most of the illnesses in children are primarily mild anxiety and ADHD, may remit on their own, and don't become the serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults. They supported funding peer support, but peer support is not proven to work better than professional support or to reduce arrest, incarceration, homelessness or suicide.
They tried to kill the AOT provisions by parroting false claims that AOT drives people from care, in spite of research that 80% of those in it say it helps them 'get well and stay well.' They claimed AOT is 'stigmatizing' in spite of the fact research shows those in it perceive less stigma than those who are not. They claimed AOT doesn't work by ignoring 20 AOT studies done in the last 15 years showing efficacy of AOT in multiple jurisdictions. They claimed AOT is a "last stage" intervention, ignoring the fact that for many of our loved ones, AOT is the last off-ramp before jails, shelters prisons and morgues. Joe Kennedy wanted to replace AOT provisions with ACT provisions demonstrating that he doesn't understand both are needed.
Dems claimed to be for "parity" but defended the IMD Exclusion which discriminates against the seriously ill. They claimed relaxing the HIPAA Handcuffs would drive people from care, in spite of research showing that when families are involved, patients do better. They claimed the mentally ill are not more violent than others, without understanding that there is a subset of the most seriously ill who when they go without treatment, are more violent than others. They defended SAMHSA in spite of specific evidence that SAMHSA encourages states to spend block grants on people without mental illness, certifies programs that don't work as working, funds antipsychiatry, wastes money and ignores serious mental illness. They defended PAIMI by blaming doctors, not PAIMI, for the failure to treat patients, demonstrating oblivion to the fact that when you have a federally funded PAIMI lawyer sitting across the table saying she'll sue if the doctor treats the patient, the doctors tend to give in. Rep. Capps proposed starting a "trauma" program claiming, "Trauma can be treated." But trauma is not a mental illness. PTSD is and even that can run from mild to severe.
I don't blame Democrats for not understanding what serious mental illness is and what helps those with it. I blame SAMHSA for misinforming them, and supporting groups that do the same.
The bill passed 18-12, mainly on a party line vote. But Representative Kurt Schrader (D., OR) deserves special recognition, for breaking with his party's orthodoxy and voting for the bill.
Rep. Murphy will review the last-minute bill and amendments proposed by Democrats to determine if any of their provisions should be incorporated in HR 2646 before it is presented to the full Energy and Commerce Committee. If it makes it out of that committee it goes to the full house. Then, if the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 (S-1945) passes the Senate, the two bills will be reconciled, voted on by their respective houses, and hopefully signed by the President.
It's a long way to go, but at last, Congress is considering how to help adults who are known to be seriously ill, rather than just throw more money at improving mental health.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today the House of Representatives passed S. 599, the Improving Access to Emergency Psychiatric Care Act. Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) introduced H.R. 3681, companion legislation in the House of Representatives. This legislation would extend for one year the Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration Project which currently operates in 11 states and the District of Columbia, and allows states not currently participating to apply for the demonstration, including Indiana. The demonstration helps people experiencing a mental health crisis, such as expressing suicidal or homicidal thoughts, get the care and treatment they need without delay.
“Under current law, adults expressing suicidal thoughts and other mental health emergencies can’t get the care they need in a timely and effective way,” Brooks said. “This proposal gives people access to short-term, direct care in psychiatric hospitals when they need it, removing the burden of care from the emergency departments of general hospitals in our communities. This will prevent senseless tragedies; improve continuity of care for patients struggling with mental illness, and save taxpayer dollars.”
With limited exceptions, under current law, Medicaid doesn’t cover services provided in psychiatric institutions to adults ages 21 to 64. This is known as Medicaid’s Institution for Mental Disease exclusion. However, Medicaid payments are available to other providers, like general hospitals, who offer services to enrollees experiencing a mental health emergency. The demonstration allows Medicaid to cover short-term, acute care provided by private psychiatric hospitals to Medicaid enrollees between the ages of 21 and 64 experiencing a mental health crisis.
“Emergency rooms are already overburdened, and these patients would get more appropriate emergency care at a psychiatric hospital,” Brooks continued. “I’m proud to support the extension of this proposal to help make sure people get the treatment they need from the experts. We need to do everything we can to strengthen and reform mental health services, and this proposal is a step in the right direction. ”
More information about the Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration Project is available online from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.Read More
U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson will be the featured speakers at the Hazelett Women in Leadership Forum this month at the Indiana Statehouse. They will talk about women's leadership in government, communication and work-life balance.
The forum was created by Ambassador Randall L. Tobias, the Randall L. Tobias Foundation, the IU Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence, IUPUI and the IUPUI Office for Women.
"This program grows out of a desire to honor and hear from individuals who are successful leaders. Our speakers are individuals who exemplify excellence in leadership and work to support the advancement of women in leadership roles,” Tobias Center Executive Director Carol Madison said.
The November 23 event is free and open to the public. A reception is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. in the Rotunda, followed by the presentations at 6:00 p.m. in the North Atrium.Read More
Indiana members of Congress are giving tickets to constituents for Pope Francis’ visit to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24.
WASHINGTON — JoAnne Lingle isn't Catholic, but the 78-year-old Indianapolis resident will be among tens of thousands of people standing outside the U.S. Capitol when Pope Francis addresses Congress later this month.
"I've been following the pope and I'm very excited about his stance on many issues — environmental, helping the poor, working for peace with justice," she said. "So that's sort of right up my alley."
Lingle, a peace activist and member of the First Mennonite Church, won a ticket through a lottery that Indiana Congressman Andre Carson's office held for more than 300 constituents who wanted to watch the Sept. 24 papal address on a Jumbotron on the Capitol's West Lawn.
"Everyone who has been notified has been very excited," Carson spokeswoman Jessica Gail said.
Each House member was allotted 50 tickets and each senator received 200 to distribute to constituents seeking a viewing spot on the lawn. Each lawmaker also received one ticket to give away for a seat to watch the papal address in person inside the House chamber.
Some Indiana members of Congress, including Sens. Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly, still have lawn tickets available. Both senators have been fulfilling requests on a first-come, first served basis, as have some of the House offices.
Rep. Luke Messer, R-Shelbyville, has been reaching out to faith-based groups and leaders. GOP Reps. Susan Brooks of Indianapolis and Todd Young of Bloomington have distributed tickets through the Catholic schools in their districts.
Lingle, who has traveled around the world to promote peace through Christian Peacemaker Teams, doesn't mind that she'll be crowded into a standing-room area with about 40,000 other people as the pope speaks inside the Capitol.
"I'm only 5 feet, 2 inches tall, so I hope I'm not way in the back," she said. "I won't be able to see anything over people's heads. But that's OK. Being in the presence of people who inspire you is enough. I don't need to kiss the ring and have a private conversation."
Pope Francis also is expected to make an appearance on the Capitol's West Front steps, providing an experience similar to papal audiences at Vatican City. The pontiff will be in roughly the same area where newly elected U.S. presidents take the oath of office and where presidents deliver an inaugural address every four years.
Hoosiers lucky enough to receive an inside ticket will watch the address from the gallery overlooking the House floor.
Coats invited Frank Zirille, a longtime friend and director of Interfaith Social Services in Fort Wayne.
Brooks will bring Maria Pimentel-Gannon, a long-standing member of the congresswoman's home parish, St. Monica Catholic Church. Pimentel-Gannon is a past president of the Church Federation of Indianapolis.
Messer's guest is Fred Klipsch, a businessman and school-choice advocate who was honored by the National Catholic Education Association last year for his commitment to Catholic education.
Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Indianapolis, who serves on the board of trustees for Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer, is bringing a fellow board member.
Carson's guest is a “local devoted Catholic woman,” according to Gail.
Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-Newburgh, is bringing a constituent whom his office did not identify.
Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Howe, is bringing his wife.
Spokesmen for Donnelly, Young and Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Jimtown, said they will announce their guests later. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, did not respond to requests for comment.
Besides Brooks, the other Catholic members of the delegation are Donnelly, Rokita and Visclosky.
Pope Francis will be the first pontiff to address a joint session of Congress.
He was invited by House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican and former altar boy.
The pope's trip to Washington begins Sept. 23 with a visit to the White House. Video feeds will be sent to Jumbotrons on the National Mall.
Francis also will say an outdoor mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.Read More
ANDERSON – U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks said the decision by President Barack Obama to block the Keystone Pipeline project cost thousands of jobs in Indiana.
The 5th District congresswoman was in Anderson on Monday to meet with local residents and toured the Hy-Pro Filtration company plant.
She said Hy-Pro Filtration makes a filter system that could be used in the tar sands projects in Canada.
“So I saw a piece of equipment of the type of manufacturing done in Anderson that would benefit from the Keystone Pipeline project,” Brooks said. “It was disappointing because the unions, businesses and energy sector supported the project.”
She said the president made the statement that this is best for climate change issues, but now that type of oil and crude is being transported by heavy trucks and trains.
“The State Department, in the last environmental impact statement, said the impact would be lessened by a pipeline than traveling above ground,” Brooks said.
She believes the Keystone Pipeline will be considered again, but probably not until 2017 after the next presidential election.
“Not only would it have created jobs, but hopefully brought down energy prices for Hoosiers and people across the country,” Brooks said.
Concerning Madison County being turned down a seventh time for a U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant program to replace the Eisenhower Bridge, Brooks said it was disappointing.
Brooks said there was tough competition for the infrastructure grant funding and that there is a lot of discussion in the House on how members can be more involved in the decisions.
“Speaker (John) Boehner did away with earmarks, so there is the discussion that now we turn over all the money to the executive branch, that chooses how the money is allocated,” she said.
“Should the House be more involved in the process? How do we have more influence over infrastructure projects to get funded,” Brooks said. “We do feel left out. All we can do is make a recommendation.”
Brooks, a member of the House Committee investigating the 2012 attack by Islamic militants on the American embassy in Libya, said the investigation is moving forward.
“The Secretary (Hillary Clinton) was one very important witness; but we have other very important witnesses as well. We’re making arrangements to take statements from former Secretary of Defense (Leon) Panetta and former CIA Director (David) Petraeus.”
Brooks said both of those interviews will be conducted in classified settings because of the nature of the testimony.
“We’re continuing to move forward in the investigation,” she said. “In the meantime we’re still waiting for State Department records and emails. It has been very frustrating.”
The investigation by other committees started in 2012 and 2013, and the administration has had plenty of time to provide the records, Brooks continued.
“We’re interviewing dozens of people that were not interviewed by previous committees, including eyewitnesses on the ground,” Brooks said. “We’re trying to get as many of the facts as we can for the families of the victims.
She said the committee gave Clinton the option of being interviewed in a private setting and she asked for the public hearings.
“People want us to finish our report, make sure it’s a comprehensive and final report with many questions answered,” Brooks said. “We hope the report will be concluded next year, but it’s dependent on the administration’s cooperating with the committee.”Read More
1505 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
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.
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