Susan Brooks

Susan Brooks

INDIANA's 5th DISTRICT

Brooks: Our Country’s Health Care System is in Desperate Need of Repair

2017/06/21

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) issued the following statement after Anthem and MDwise announced they will no longer sell insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges in Indiana in 2018:

“In 2016, Hoosiers who bought their insurance on the exchange had eight health insurance carriers to choose from and half of those carriers made the decision last year to no longer participate in the exchange in 2017. Today’s news again confirms the sad reality that our country’s health care system is in desperate need of repair as today only two insurance carriers remain to offer health care coverage on the Indiana exchange in 2018, stripping 77,000 Hoosiers of their preferred health care coverage and doctors. I am particularly concerned about my constituents in Grant County who will be left without an option for coverage on the exchange, as well as those living in Blackford and Tipton counties who will have just one option for health insurance on the exchange in 2018. This reality is why I have prioritized rebuilding our broken health care system from the beginning and will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress on a solution that supports Hoosiers and their families.”

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Brooks Votes to Hold VA Accountable and Provide Veterans with Better Care

2017/06/13

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House voted on bipartisan legislation to help our veterans get better care and better results from the Veterans Administration (VA). Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-IN05) voted in favor of S. 1094, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017. While the vast majority of VA employees are hardworking and dedicated, in recent years, disturbing reports have revealed that the VA has failed to hold individuals who are not fulfilling their duties or have committed crimes accountable for their actions. In some instances, the VA has tried to discipline or dismiss an employee, but the process is so administratively complex that it can take more than year, or be delayed indefinitely. Next, S. 1094 will head to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“Reports that the VA was unable to discipline a nurse who participated in surgery while intoxicated or dismiss an employee that engaged in armed robbery should outrage every American, and the thousands of honest men and women who serve our veterans ably each day as employees of the VA,” Brooks said. “This bill provides for a more efficient and effective process to discipline and fire bad actors in the VA, while still protecting every employee’s right to due process under the law. I’m hopeful that this legislation will help the VA and its employees offer our veterans better, more timely care and benefits—benefits that they have earned and deserve.”

The VA has been plagued by scandals in recent years. We learned in 2014 that at least 40 of our veterans died while waiting for doctor’s appointments and medical care on secret wait lists at the Pheonix VA hospital. It was later revealed that similar wait lists were being manipulated across the country. Additionally, sharp increases in opioid theft were investigated at VA hospitals earlier this year and more than one-third of calls to the VA’s suicide hotline went unanswered last year.

“More accountability at the VA is required to effectively discipline or dismiss those employees who aren’t serving our veterans and who don’t perform their duties,” Brooks continued. “This is a bipartisan issue. Moreover, it’s the mission of the Veterans Administration and the vast majority of its employees to provide high-quality, timely care to our veterans. But, the VA should have the ability to discipline or dismiss employees who aren’t living up to this mission, and that’s what this bill does.”

S. 1094 would create a new streamlined and efficient process to remove, demote or suspend any VA employee for poor performance or misconduct with a concrete shortened timeline, while still protecting employees’ due process rights, and would provide them with the right to appeal the action. It would also provide expanded protections for whistleblowers and would specifically bar VA from using this removal authority if the employee has an open whistleblower complaint/case with the Office of Special Counsel.

The House passed H.R. 1259, the VA Accountability First Act of 2017, on March 16, 2017, with Brooks’ support. The Senate passed S. 1094, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, on June 6, 2017. 

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Susan Brooks visits Marion, Family Service Society

2017/06/06

U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, R- District Five, made it clear to her Grant County constituents this week that treating opioid addictions and mental health issues in the state were still among her top priorities. 

During her trip to Grant County Monday, Brooks met one-on-one with constituents at Ivy Tech Community College, talked with members of Family Service Society, Inc. and toured the Flannery-Keal Home for victims of domestic violence in Grant County.

The representative said she was very impressed by the domestic violence shelter, which had “immaculately clean” living spaces for families and individuals, as well as large counseling rooms for non-residents to meet during the day for group lessons and discussions.

Prior to hearing a presentation about other FSSI initiatives, however, Brooks heard concerns regarding the American Health Care Act, which has been criticized for rolling back expansions of Medicaid provided under the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.

Family Service Society President and CEO Lisa Dominisse said she was nervous about AHCA’s effect on Medicaid, the largest source of funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment. Most of Family Service Society’s substance abuse clients are on Medicaid, HIP or HIP 2.0, Dominisse said.

“I am (also) concerned that the federal government is possibly not taking a systemic and multi-general approach as they’re looking at mental health and addictions and how that may play out over time,” Dominisse added.

Brooks admitted to that the AHCA was not perfect.

“The House Bill that I voted for is a starting point,” she later told the Chronicle-Tribune. “Now it’s gone over to the Senate, and the Senate may either not address our bill or may take the best parts of our bill and build around it. I’m not sure what’s going to happen.”

Brooks also said the only way she sees addiction services being cut back in Indiana is if Gov. Eric Holcomb asked to waive funding for those services, something she doesn’t believe the state will do due to its emphasis on solving the opioid epidemic.

In order to truly attack substance abuse, however, states must recruit more mental health and addictions specialists, according to Brooks. The shortage of these specialists, she said, is a concern she’s heard several times. Members of Family Service Society, too, shared that concern, going as far to say that the lack of specialists was perhaps the biggest issue Grant County faces in treating substance abuse. Of its 65 employees, just 15 are therapists and only two specialize in addictions. 

“If we’re going to really tackle the problem, we’ve got to figure out how to incentivize and get more people to go into that field when they’re considering their career choices,” Brooks said.

Coming out of Monday’s meetings with Family Service Society, Brooks said she was overall encouraged by the work of the nearly 100-year-old organization, especially their efforts to educate Grant County children on domestic violence prevention from elementary school to high school.

“Obviously, they’re very effective at what they do,” Brooks said. “Grant County’s really lucky to have them.”

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Letters: Support police with mental health services

2017/06/04

Police officers deal with trauma all of the time on the job. Caught in the crossfire of violent crimes. Finding and recovering bodies of murder victims, some of whom are children. Targets for lone wolf shootings. Injecting NARCAN, the overdose reversal drug, into people who’ve overdosed on fentanyl laced heroin, trying to save their lives.

For most people, just one of these experiences would be enough to cause trauma. But police officers face unthinkable situations daily, sometimes leading to significant mental health challenges for our officers like anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and even suicidal thoughts.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), between 7 to 19 percent of police officers have symptoms of PTSD. In comparison, only 3.5 percent of the general population experiences PTSD. Almost one in four officers has thoughts of suicide at some point in their life, and suicide rates in small police departments are almost four times the national average. Just last October in the Fifth District, Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen desperately pleaded for better mental health services after his daughter, also a police officer, tried to take her own life. She was struggling with PTSD after responding to a case involving a murdered mother and young son. Our police officers need access to mental health services to help them cope with these types of unforgettable situations.

Police officers may also face a culture of silence when it comes to mental health challenges. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than half of officers never seek mental health treatment or services. Fortunately, there is a growing trend among law enforcement groups, including the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), to change that culture and offer officers the support and treatment they need to continue to protect themselves and our communities. Since 2010, IMPD and the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police (IFOP) have supported a mental health and wellness program for officers that is currently serving as a national model. Officers in Indianapolis can receive counseling and referrals to doctors and clinicians through this unique in-house program, staffed by fellow trained officers.

To help more police departments develop and implement similar programs, I’ve introduced H.R. 2228, the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act, with my colleague, Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), a former police chief in Orlando. This legislation directs the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Veterans Affairs to improve the sharing of federal resources to equip local law enforcement agencies to address mental health challenges faced by law enforcement officers. It also makes grants available to initiate peer mentoring pilot programs, develop training for mental health providers specific to law enforcement mental health needs, and support law enforcement officers by studying the effectiveness of crisis hotlines and annual mental health checks.

This legislation has been endorsed by IMPD, IFOP, the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Officers, the Major County Sheriffs of America, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National District Attorneys Association, and the Sergeants Benevolent Association. Companion legislation, S. 867, introduced by Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, has passed the Senate.

While it’s important to prepare police officers to safely interact with people suffering from mental illnesses, we must support our officers with mental health services that provide them the training and resources to protect their own emotional and mental well-being on the job. We owe this to all of our heroes in law enforcement across the country. As Chuck Canterbury, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police said, “Unlike many other professions, sometimes you can't leave the job at the office.”

 

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Kilmer & Brooks Introduce Bill to Help Teachers by Making Loan Assistance More Effective

2017/05/31

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Susan Brooks (R-IN) introduced the Teacher Loan Repayment Act (TELORA) to improve federal loan assistance programs and provide teachers with clear and tangible incentives to enter and remain in the classroom. A companion bill was introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Mark Warner (D-VA).

“My folks were both public school teachers and they taught me to value the doors that a good education can open,” said Kilmer. “To encourage talented teachers to make their mark helping students learn, we need to make sure educators aren't left with crippling loan payments and substantial debt. Our bipartisan, bicameral bill creates a more effective approach that gives teachers the right support so they can make a difference in the lives of kids everywhere.”

“Our kids need good teachers, and as the proud mom, daughter and sister of a public school teachers, I understand the importance of rewarding hardworking teachers for their dedication in the classroom,” said Brooks. “This legislation will help recruit and retain skilled teachers to challenging schools, and help make sure they can continue to make a positive difference in the lives of their students and the communities they serve.”

“Today’s teacher loan forgiveness programs often miss the mark,” said Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, Vice President for Social Policy & Politics at Third Way. “They are complicated, underutilized, and conflicting, and they make teachers wait years for the promise of loan forgiveness down the line. But today’s reintroduction of the Teacher Loan Repayment Act (TELORA) represents a major shift by radically streamlining loan assistance programs so that teachers can get the support they need from day 1 in the classroom. One of the best ways we can improve education and increase student success is to make sure every student has access to a high-quality teacher. TELORA is a meaningful investment we can make to ensure that we are attracting and retaining the best and brightest for years to come.”

The current menu of federally-sponsored teacher loan assistance programs has failed to meet the goal of attracting and retaining educators. From Federal Stafford and Perkins Loan Forgiveness for Teachers to TEACH grants, the current options are under-utilized due to confusing eligibility requirements and lengthy commitments.  In addition, some of these programs can actually cost teacher candidates more money in the long run.  Despite the goal of providing equitable access to qualified teachers, there are a variety of obstacles toward getting teachers into the neediest schools.

The Teacher Loan Repayment Act (TELORA) provides teachers with a clear and tangible incentive to enter and remain in the classroom. TELORA would:

Streamline Existing Programs

TELORA would eliminate the current patchwork of loan assistance programs and instead replace them with one streamlined federal program that provides all eligible teachers with a monthly loan payment. Each loan payment would count toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness, resulting in full loan cancellation for teachers after ten years.

Provide Teachers with Real Financial Benefit

Under this legislation, the federal government (as administered through the states) would put $250-400 toward every eligible teacher’s loan payment each month up to an eventual aggregate total of $23,400. If the monthly payment is less than this stated range, the remaining money would go toward paying down the loan principal. These payments would be non-taxable, providing hardworking teachers with substantial financial relief every month.

Incentivize Teachers to Work in the Neediest Schools

Only teachers who choose to work in Title-I schools (schools enrolling at least 40 percent of children from low-income families) would be eligible to receive loan forgiveness under TELORA. This would provide teachers with an extra incentive to work in the most challenging schools where students need them most.

How It Works

The payments for TELORA would ramp up every year, rewarding teachers who choose to stay in the classroom long-term. The process to implement TELORA is simple—states report the number of eligible teachers to the federal government, designated federal funds are then sent to state agencies, and then those state agencies pay federal funds to the lenders directly. Teachers simply watch a portion of their loan payments disappear each month.

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House approves bill requiring amateur sporting organizations to report abuse allegations

2017/05/30

The House overwhelmingly approved legislation on Thursday led by U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) that would require amateur athletics governing bodies to establish sexual abuse reporting and training procedures in the aftermath of abuse allegations involving USA Gymnastics programs.

Brooks was joined by U.S. Reps. Martha Roby (R-AL), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Lois Frankel (D-FL) in introducing the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act, H.R. 1973. The legislation comes in response to revelations that 368 athletes, some Olympic hopefuls, were victimized by coaches, doctors or trainers associated with USA Gymnastics.

“I understand how challenging it is to share painful stories of sexual abuse, and I am proud of the brave gymnasts who have shared their stories,” Brooks said on the House floor. “Stories that should never have happened, and stories that went inexcusably unanswered. Their stories demand our attention and action. Not only to provide victims with the justice denied to them for so long, but also to protect future generations of Olympic hopefuls.”

Brooks, a former federal prosecutor, said H.R. 1973 would address the “dangerous silence” that plagued USA Gymnastics, and allowed more athletes to be victimized.

“Our bill makes sure that national governing bodies entrusted with the health and well-being of young athletes and future Olympians promptly report any allegations of sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities and implement stronger policies and procedures to prevent this from happening again,” Brooks said.

Speaking in support of the bill on the House floor, U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) said the measure is a step in the right direction to help ensure that athletes are better protected. He added that the bill would also direct amateur sporting organizations to develop and implement rigorous training and oversight practices to prevent future abuse.

“Our amateur athletes and their families should never ever have to worry about their children being abused by those who are closest to them, often in a very trusted relationship,” said Paulsen, who cosponsored the bill. “We need to pass this critical legislation to give families the peace of mind and prevent abuse.”

U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), also spoke in support of the bill on the House floor. He acknowledged that H.R. 1973 marked the first time Congress had put forward legislation to ensure that organizations have a duty to report abuse allegations.

“This gives us a chance to do something, which is to give a voice to those victims who have suffered in silence and yet had the courage to come forward and allow others to appreciate the depth of the impact that they have suffered, as well as an opportunity for us to assure that this kind of pattern doesn’t repeat itself,” Meehan said.

In the Senate, companion legislation was introduced by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) is an original cosponsor.

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IN Focus: Brooks on President’s foreign trip, Russia probe

2017/05/28

INDIANAPOLIS - On this week's edition of IN Focus, CBS4 talks with Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), who speaks for the first time since the firing of former FBI director James Comey.

In the video above, Brooks shares her thoughts on the appointment of a special counsel to manage the investigation into Russian interference, and her take on the President's first trip overseas.

In the video below, CBS4's Matt Smith talks with education secretary Betsy DeVos during her trip to Indianapolis last week.

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House Overwhelmingly Passes Brooks’ Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act

2017/05/25

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 1973, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act, with a vote of 415-3. This legislation was recently introduced by Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL). This bill requires prompt reporting of suspected cases of abuse, mandatory training, and implementation of policies and procedures for preventing, reporting, and addressing allegations of sexual abuse at amateur athletic governing bodies. S. 534, companion legislation introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), recently passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Indiana Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young are original co-sponsors of S. 534.

Rep. Brooks and Rep. Frankel discuss the passage of H.R. 1973

Rep. Brooks and Rep. Frankel discuss the passage of H.R. 1973, here.

To watch Rep. Brooks’ remarks on the House Floor

To watch Rep. Brooks’ remarks on the House Floor, click here.

A copy of Rep. Brooks’ remarks on the House Floor as prepared are below:

I rise today in strong support of HR 1973 – Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act.

Since my time as a US Attorney and federal prosecutor, I have been committed to battling child exploitation and abuse.

Last year, I was shocked – along with much of the country – when the Indianapolis Star published an investigative piece that exposed troubling allegations of sexual abuse at USA Gymnastics programs across the country. 

According to their report, over the last 20 years, at least 368 young people – some Olympic hopefuls – were the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of adults they trusted – coaches, trainers, doctors and other adults associated with USA Gymnastics. They reported the abuse to USA Gymnastics – and unfortunately, USA Gymnastics failed, in many cases, to report their abuse to law enforcement authorities.

The article shed light on their stories and inspired the legislation that is before us today. According to the more than 5,600 pages of USA Gymnastics records released by the Indy Star, some of the 54 coaches who had been accused of sexual abuse by young athletes in their care weren’t banned from gymnastics until years after their history of abuse had been reported to and kept in complaint files by USA Gymnastics.

One USA Gymnastics doctor, Dr. Nassar, abused young women and girls for more than 20 years, and more than 100 women have come forward today to share their stories of abuse at his hands.

I understand how challenging it is to share painful stories of sexual abuse, and I am proud of the brave gymnasts who have shared their stories. Stories that should never have happened, and stories that went inexcusably unanswered.

Their stories demand our attention and action.

Not only to provide victims with the justice denied to them for so long, but also to protect future generations of Olympic hopefuls.

I want to acknowledge the work of Senator Dianne Feinstein of California who is leading this bill in the Senate, and my colleagues in the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus who joined me to offer the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act. Our legislation is an important step towards protecting our young athletes.

Our legislation addresses this dangerous silence that, as the Indy Star investigative piece showed, plagued the USA Gymnastics. A silence that led to more girls being abused, hurt, and harmful coaches who faced little to no repercussions for their heinous actions.

The abuse should have been first and foremost, prevented. The system utterly failed when the abuse was not detected, and not promptly reported. The Olympic community failed and must do better.

Our bill makes sure that national governing bodies entrusted with the health and well-being of young athletes and future Olympians promptly report any allegations of sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities and implement stronger policies and procedures to prevent this from happening again.

I applaud Senator Feinstein and my colleagues in the House who joined the effort to move this important legislation forward, and applaud the victims who shared their story to protect others.

For more information on H.R. 1973, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act, click here

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House bill would require sports groups to report sex abuse

2017/05/25

WASHINGTON (AP) — Angered by allegations that some members of USA Gymnastics were sexually abused, the House overwhelmingly backed legislation on Thursday that requires amateur sports groups recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee to report claims of sexual abuse to police.

The vote was 415-3, with the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., saying the Olympic community clearly had failed to protect its athletes and must do better.

The legislation stems from allegations that a sports doctor for USA Gymnastics sexually assaulted gymnasts he treated for hip and back injuries. The doctor, Larry Nassar, has denied wrongdoing. He is currently the defendant in four separate criminal cases. In one of the cases, a Michigan judge is deciding whether there’s enough evidence to send the former Michigan State University doctor to trial on allegations he sexually assaulted seven gymnasts at a campus clinic or at his home basement.

Three former elite U.S. gymnasts, including 2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzscher, have also accused Nassar of touching them inappropriately while he disguised the abuse as treatment. In all, more than 100 women have alleged they were abused by Nassar over more than two decades.

“I understand how challenging it is to share painful stories of sexual abuse, and I am proud of the brave gymnasts who have shared their stories — stories that should never have happened, and stories that went inexcusably unanswered,” Brooks said. “Their stories demand our attention and action.”

The bill also relaxes the statute of limitations for those seeking civil damages. Victims alleging they were abused will have 10 years from the time they reach adulthood to file a civil lawsuit.

The bill also clarifies that once a victim has established that harm occurred, the court will presume damages of $150,000.

A similar bill, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, has cleared a Senate panel. Feinstein said her legislation would make it safe and easy for victims to report abuse and that organizations such as USA Gymnastics would have to ensure coaches and personnel are trained in sexual abuse prevention.

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Brooks Statement on the Updated CBO Score of AHCA

2017/05/24

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) released the following statement after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released a new score of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA):

“The score from the CBO today confirms that the AHCA as passed by the house will lower premium costs for Americans and reduce our deficit. This is an on-going process, and it’s important to realize that this score does not reflect any changes the Senate may make to the legislation in the coming weeks or any future, additional actions the Administration or Congress will take to fix our healthcare system, lower costs and increase healthcare choices. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress, the Administration and state officials to make our healthcare system work better for Hoosiers and Americans."

The CBO report confirms that the AHCA would reduce the cumulative federal deficit over the 2017-2026 period by $119 billion. In comparison with the estimates for previous versions of the AHCA, the number of people with health insurance would, by CBO and JCT estimates, be slightly higher and average premiums for insurance purchased on the individual market would be lower. Read the full CBO report here

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Contact Information

1505 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-2276
Fax 202-225-0016
susanbrooks.house.gov

Committee Assignments

Ethics

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.


Serving With

Jackie Walorski

INDIANA's 2nd DISTRICT

Jim Banks

INDIANA's 3rd DISTRICT

Todd Rokita

INDIANA's 4th DISTRICT

Luke Messer

INDIANA's 6th DISTRICT

Larry Bucshon

INDIANA's 8th DISTRICT

Trey Hollingsworth

INDIANA's 9th DISTRICT

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