Tim Vandenack
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Coats, Donnelly, Walorski sound off on Russia, military sexual assaults, suing the president

Here's what the federal lawmakers have had to say on a range of matters so far this week.

Posted on March 12, 2014 at 6:21 p.m.

Wednesday March 12, 2014

Here's some of what the federal delegation representing Elkhart County has had to say so far this week:

Russia/Ukraine: U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, offered tough words to Russia over its involvement in Ukraine.

“We want to work with the president and our European allies to send a very strong message to Russia,” the GOP lawmaker said Monday, March 10, in an interview on MSNBC. “There needs to be a price paid by this bully who has taken over the playground.”

Screengrab, above, from YouTube video of Coats interview on MSNBC.

Coats continued the strong talk Tuesday, after Senate passage of a resolution he introduced with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., supporting the "territorial integrity" of Ukraine and condemning Russian involvement there. “While only a first step, this resolution sends a message to Putin that invading your neighbors and behaving like a bully on the playground is unacceptable," Coats said in a statement.

The Durbin-Coats resolution calls for the withdrawal from Ukraine of Russia, except as allowed by treaty, and warns that Russia's involvement threatens Russia's relationship with the United states. Among many other things, it also urges President Obama to consider economic and diplomatic measures.

Sexual assault in the military: U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, lauded legislation meant to combat sexual assault in the military. The Justice Improvement Act passed the Senate 97-0 on Monday.

He's met those who have suffered military sexual assault "and their heartbreaking stories of experiencing sexual assault while serving our country made it crystal clear to me that we must do more to address this epidemic,” the Democratic lawmaker said in a statement.

The Justice Improvement Act would require military prosecutors to conduct an extra review of sexual assault cases not referred to trial, among many other things. It would also limit use of the "good soldier" defense, which allowed consideration in proceedings of a suspect's length of service and good conduct.

Funds for kids medical research: U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, a Republican, praised U.S. Senate passage of the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, which she co-sponsored in the House. The measure would funnel $126 million in federal funds earmarked for presidential campaigns toward pediatric medical research instead.

"This straightforward legislation will support new initiatives to improve medical technology and find cures for our children," Walorski said in a statement.

The measure has been sent to Obama for his signature.

Suing the president, Obamacare, federal paperwork: On Wednesday, Coats said he's co-sponsoring a measure that calls for delay of the individual insurance mandate outlined in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, whenever the employer mandate is delayed. The Obama Administration announced a partial delay in the employer mandate last month.

"This is about basic fairness," said Coats. The measure, the Freeing Americans from Inequitable Requirements Act, was introduced by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

Coats also con-sponsored a measure allowing the U.S. House or U.S. Senate to sue the executive branch "if it fails to execute the law," said a statement from his office. The statement noted the Obama Administration's "selective enforcement of many federal laws, such as exempting businesses from Obamacare mandates included in the Affordable Care Act."

Coats on Monday introduced another measure he said would help businesses "focus on creating more jobs instead of more unnecessary paperwork."

The Sound Regulation Act would call on federal agencies to conduct cost-benefit analyses to determine the cost of complying with regulations under their respective jurisdictions.

“Federal bureaucrats are regulating too many successful Indiana employers out of business or hamstringing their ability to expand," Coats said in a statement. "My proposal will cut Washington’s red tape and eliminate unnecessary federal rules."

Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack or visit him on Facebook.


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