WASHINGTON (WLFI) – Capitol Hill was the focus for the second day of the annual Greater Lafayette Commerce trip to Washington, D.C.
The delegation met with both of Indiana’s senators as well as its 4th District representative.
The group from Greater Lafayette Commerce talked infrastructure and transportation with Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly Thursday morning. He said he’s hopeful a transportation bill can get done this year, one that addresses the gap in current revenues being brought in by federal taxes on gasoline.
“What I’m really, really focused on is jobs and continued job growth,” said Sen. Donnelly.
Donnelly serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee. This week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said a shrinking defense budget would mean that the American troop level would drop to about 450,000, the smallest level since before World War II. Donnelly said without the budget being released yet, it’s too early to comment.
“We have serious challenges. We obviously have the most advanced and preeminent military in the world. We will always keep it that way, but we also have to work within the financial levels that we have in our nation as well,” Donnelly said.
Republican Sen. Dan Coats was second.
“Really what happens between now and Election Day is up to the president. If he would lead with some issues, he was out yesterday talking about infrastructure support, but lay out some areas where we have bipartisan support,” Sen. Coats said.
The Senator said he’s open to outside funding sources helping to bridge the gap, including using public-private partnerships, but it’s up to Democratic Senate leaders and the president.
“Again without the leadership from the top, we’re not going to be able to support the fund in a necessary way to get aging infrastructure under control,” Coats said.
The conversation differed slightly with Republican Rep. Todd Rokita because the delegation had already met the Congressman for dinner Wednesday night. He’s doubtful much may get passed in this election year, but said that doesn’t mean much will not get done.
“I think there’s a couple more things that could get done, but the bigger ideas deserve, first of all, the thanks for being introduced. Second, the respect of a long healthy national debate,” said congressman Rokita.
As a member of the House Budget Committee, he opposed the move by House Republicans to raise the debt ceiling without a fight earlier this month.
“I don’t apologize for using the debt ceiling to leverage reform on spending every chance I get. It’s the least we could do,” Rokita said.
The delegation also had a meeting with the National Democratic Senatorial Committee Thursday afternoon. News 18 was not allowed to sit in on that.