Indiana GOP lawmakers vote against hurricane relief, debt ceiling package

WASHINGTON - Five of Indiana's seven Republican representatives voted against the package combining hurricane relief with a three-month budget and debt ceiling extension.

The deal was crafted by President Donald Trump and leading congressional Democrats in an Oval Office meeting earlier this week, but it's still causing division and frustration for many Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The five Indiana representatives voting against the measure were:

  • Rep. Jim Banks (R-3rd district)
  • Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-9th district)
  • Rep. Luke Messer (R-6th district)
  • Rep. Todd Rokita (R-4th district)
  • Rep.  Jackie Walorski (R-2nd district)

Two GOP representatives from Indiana joined two Democrats in voting for the measure:

  • Rep. Susan Brooks (R-5th district)
  • Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-8th district)
  • Rep. Andre Carson (D-7th district)
  • Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-1st district)

In an interview for this week's edition of IN Focus, we spoke with Rep. Banks about his vote against the package.

"All of us from Indiana voted for the (relief money) earlier in the week, but when the President struck this deal with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to include a continuing resolution, at that point I could no longer support this package," said Banks. "It's deeply disappointing."

Democrats were quick to attack Messer and Rokita in particular, who are both running for Senate in 2018 against Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN).

“It’s unclear whether Hoosiers will be more ashamed or perplexed by Congressmen Messer’s and Rokita’s vote this morning,” said Will Baskin-Gerwitz, senior media strategist for the Indiana Democratic Party. “While hundreds of Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle put partisanship aside to help Americans in need, prevent our nation from defaulting on our debt, and keep the government functioning, these two men both abdicated their responsibility. At the same time, this is the biggest legislative deal that the President has made to date—if both Congressmen Messer and Rokita are fighting to prove who is the biggest Trump disciple, why are they both suddenly abandoning him here? Hoosiers deserve to know why Congressmen Messer and Rokita have gone back on both their oath of office and their campaign promises.”

Messer's office also issued a statement on Friday explaining his vote.

“Earlier this week, I voted for targeted disaster relief for Hurricane Harvey victims in the House, but I can’t support the Senate’s legislation that piles on more deficit spending, without any effort to shake up the status quo, balance budgets and pay down our debt," said Messer in a written statement. "The Senate is playing politics with this tragedy. Hoosiers know our nation can’t keep spending money we don’t have. Our kids and grandkids deserve better.”

You can see more of our interview with Rep. Banks and Sen. Donnelly in the video above and on this week's edition of IN Focus, which airs Sunday morning at 9:30 on FOX59.