Indiana Daily Student

How Indiana candidates for U.S. Senate have talked about IDS readers’ top issues 

The midterm elections, on Nov. 8, are less than two weeks away. With information taken from the IDS’s voting poll as of Oct. 26, here’s what you need to know about how Indiana candidates for U.S. Senate see your five most pressing issues. 

Voters in the poll were allowed to pick multiple key issues. The percentages shown reflect the number of votes received compared to the total number of votes. Let us know your top issues here

LGBTQ+ rights was tied for the second most important issue; however, candidates did not discuss specific policy information surrounding this issue. 

Abortion: 8.14% 

Thomas McDermott, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, states on his campaign website that he will codify Roe v. Wade if elected. This means he would vote to pass a law affirming a pregnant person’s right to an abortion without interference that would be binding in all states, according to BU Today. He also stated he would protect resources going to women’s health, specifically through Planned Parenthood.  

Todd Young, the Republican incumbent for U.S. Senate, is anti-abortion. He is endorsed by The National Right to Life Committee and Susan B. Anthony List, two prominent anti-abortion organizations, and has cosponsored multiple anti-abortion bills, according to his campaign website. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, was reintroduced in 2021 and protects fetuses that survive attempted abortions, and the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would make it a criminal offense to perform or attempt an abortion on a fetus 20 weeks or older.Young has also voted to confirm multiple conservative, anti-abortion Supreme Court judges, according to his website. 

James Sceniak, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, stated on his campaign website that he personally supports abortion rights andbelieves generally that criminalizing and banning abortion does not work. Instead, he supports using tax breaks and subsidies to support adoption and foster care. 

Education: 7.69% 

When considering education, McDermott said he supports giving power to parents and local school boards rather than federal lawmakers, but Congress should still provide funding and educational standards, according to his website. As mayor of Hammond, a position he’s held since 2004, he increased teachers’ pay and created the College Bound Scholarship Program — a full-ride scholarship from the city that has sent over 6,000 students to college, according to McDermott’s website. While a large amounts of student debt was recently canceled, as of now cumulative student loan debt is still $1.6 trillion and affects over 45 million borrowers, according to the White House

Young states on his Senate website that his goal is to modernize Hoosier education. He’s introduced a range of bills — including the RISE Act, which would aid people with disabilities in the college process — and he has cosponsored multiple bills as well. One recent cosponsored bill would deny federal funding to colleges or affiliated institutions who provided abortion drugs or abortions. Young called Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan “unfair” and “misguided,” according to IndyStar, and he said college cost and lack of practical majors should be the issues questioned. 

Sceniak supports forgiving interest on student debt but told the IndyStar that the nation isn’t in a position to forgive all college debt. There is no information about his position on education listed on his website.

Voting Rights: 7.24% 

McDermott said on his website he would support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in the Senate. This act would restore and support protection against discrimination for voters of color, according to the Brennan Center, and McDermott calls it a prevention against partisan power grabs. According to his website, he also supports campaign finance reform, and he wants to undo the damage done by overturning the McCain-Feingold law. This law prohibited the use of election-influencing and unregulated “soft money” and banned corporations or unions from funding ads for specific federal candidates within one to two months of the election, according to Ballotpedia.

Young, along with a group of other Republican Senators, introduced the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, according to IndyStar. This would update the Electoral Count Act, which was enacted over 130 years ago. It would also make four changes: it would prohibit state legislatures from using unilaterally appointed electors to overrule voters, resolve electoral disputes before they reached Congress, limit opportunities for members of Congress to question electoral votes and clarify the vice president’s role. 

Sceniak told the IndyStar he believes election security and reform is “essential” for civil politics. He said election security is critical so voters can have confidence in the voting system. Election reform should happen on a state level, he said, but the federal government must do their part to ensure states' voting laws practice equality. 

Healthcare: 6.79% 

McDermott supports an “affordable public option” for healthcare that would lower costs by creating competition, according to his website. This would be most significant to people without insurance or who are underinsured. Additionally, he said he wants to pass a plan to lower prescription drug prices. The Biden administration began this process by lowering Medicare premiums via executive order and the effects of the Inflation Reduction Act, according to the Associated Press. This current plan will impact seniors the most, but it will affect anyone on Medicare. The specifics of McDermott’s plan are unclear. 

Young has not listed information about his healthcare policies on his campaign website. As part of his Fair Shot Agenda, which aims to ensure a “level playing field” to allow people to achieve their own definition of success, Young said he supports increasing healthcare access, combatting opioid addiction and expanding addiction treatment options. Young also supports increasing federal funding for mental health services and providers, according to IndyStar. 

Sceniak stresses his belief in medical freedom on his campaign website, saying that politicians are not physicians. He opposes mandating vaccinations, saying everyone should protect themselves how they see fit, and he supports medical marijuana on a federal level. Vaccines have been determined to be the best form of protection against many diseases, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Another target is the patent system, which he said on his website he wants to de-weaponize to allow more generic prescription drug options. An NBC report supports this claim, saying that the patent system creates a monopoly on prescription drugs. 

Environment: 6.79% 

McDermott said protecting air and water is a priority and that he would prepare Indiana for clean energy jobs, according to his website. With McDermott as mayor, Hammond formed an energy conservation program to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and save $26 million by using energy more efficiently. McDermott said he believes working towards a solution to the climate crisis can also be an opportunity for the economy.  

Young supports the Keystone XL pipeline, which he said will bring down gas prices, according to his website. The pipeline project has faced criticism for its potential damage to a fragile ecosystem and to First Nation lands, according to BBC. Additionally, while he believes that climate change is a threat, he said most of the effort to solve it should come from the private sector with targeted government research spending, according to WFYI. He said there can’t be a short-term transition to a green economy. 

Sceniak agreed, alongside the other candidates, that climate change was a threat and encouraged private sector "innovation," according to WFYI debate coverage. According to the World Economic Forum, investment by the private sector of the energy economy, meaning energy companies themselves, would support the transition to clean energy and mitigate some consequences of climate change. 

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