IN Focus: Donnelly, Banks on health care defeat, this week’s top stories

INDIANAPOLIS - After a late night defeat in the Senate, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are reacting to the latest failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) issued the following statement after voting for the proposal early Friday morning:

“This morning, I voted to take another step towards relieving Hoosiers and millions of Americans from the burdens of Obamacare.  Too many Hoosiers have been left with too few options and rising costs. It is more important than ever that we keep our promise to them and fundamentally reform our healthcare system.

“Going forward, I will participate in hearings in the HELP Committee and continue to work with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to come up with a solution that provides long-term stability to our healthcare system and gives each and every Hoosier the opportunity to access quality and affordable insurance.”

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) voted against the so-called 'skinny repeal' along with all of his fellow Democrats, and three Republicans who broke with their party leaders to reject the scaled-back repeal.

In a written statement early Friday morning, Sen. Donnelly said:

“I still believe that by working together we can improve our health care system and, at a minimum, Congress and the Administration should do no harm to the millions of Americans’ whose health and economic well-being are at stake. I share the frustration of Hoosiers and Americans who are tired of partisan proposals that fail to address issues with our existing health care system and the continued legislative uncertainty that is undermining the insurance markets. We should do the hard and necessary work to gather the input of doctors, nurses, hospitals, and patients, and work in a bipartisan manner to make coverage more affordable and accessible for Hoosier and American families.”

In the video above, Donnelly and Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) discuss the health care debate and this week's other top stories, including the President's many tweets criticizing his own attorney general.

"It's another frenzy, another distraction brought about by the President himself that gets in the way of the agenda we were elected to do," said Banks, who noted that he did support many of the President's decisions, including his sweeping policy change to ban transgender people from serving in the military in any capacity, a reversal from an Obama administration-era decision.

The president and administration argue that allowing transgender Americans to openly serve erodes military readiness, calling the Obama decision expensive and disruptive.

“What I hear from our currently serving troops abroad and here at home, this issue is a distraction from them doing their job,” said Banks, a freshman congressman and Navy Reservist who is also the most recent member of Congress to serve overseas in Afghanistan.

Banks served overseas just before the Obama policy was implemented.

“For far too long during the Obama administration, the military became too much of a social experiment,” Banks said. “And this was one of example of that, of allowing transgender troops to serve.”

Other lawmakers on Capitol Hill, though including a number of Republicans, are voicing concerns including Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“The President's tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter,” McCain said in a statement.

“We have thousands of transgender friends and neighbors serving right now, many of them who are Hoosiers,” said Sen. Donnelly. “They are serving and putting their lives out there for us, and we are grateful for their service.”