Pence talks political divisions, Congressional actions at Greenwood Rotary

U.S. Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana, speaks to members of the Greenwood Rotary Club on Monday at Central Nine Career Center in Greenwood.

Noah Crenshaw | Daily Journal

Free from the constraints of running for another term, U.S. Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana, freely talked about the state of Congress and more Monday in Greenwood.

Pence, 67, was the featured guest at the Greenwood Rotary Club’s monthly luncheon at Central Nine Career Center. The three-term incumbent is not seeking reelection to his Sixth District seat, which has led to a hotly-contested Republican primary with six candidates running to replace him.

Pence declined to answer a question from the audience regarding who he’d endorse to replace him. He’d been asked the question in Washington, D.C. and here, and it wouldn’t be fair to answer, he said.

By coincidence, one of the men running to replace Pence — State Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis — was at the meeting. However, he did not speak about his campaign.

Pence did discuss political divisions, government accountability, energy and more Monday afternoon.

Political divisions

For Pence, who’s been in office since 2019, last year was the first time the GOP has had a majority in Congress. Last year, Congress was only able to pass 100 bills, which is far below past years.

He called the current Congress “chaotic,” also saying the Republican Party is “very split” right now. This is partially because of “external influences” on the House, he said.

“I’ve been saying this probably way over a year [now], your House of Representatives, to a certain extent, has been neutered,” Pence said. “See, now when you’re not running again, you can say whatever you want.”

The Senate still has some legislative power, but the House has become “dysfunctional” to the point where it’s very difficult to get anything done, he said. They were recently able to pass re-authorization and renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — a key U.S. government surveillance tool — in a bipartisan 273-147 vote.

But this bill took four attempts to come to the floor to pass, Pence said. Republicans, along with some Democrats, were divided on its contents. The GOP holds a slim 218-213 majority.

Pence voted in favor of the bill, which has had some “positive improvements” to it. He expects to pass Congress fully before a section expires Friday, he said.

Part of the reason why the bill has had trouble was because some Republicans didn’t like the final bill, which didn’t prohibit the warrantless surveillance of Americans. An amendment to prohibit that ultimately ended in a tied vote 212-212, the Associated Press reported.

He was also asked whether he’d endorse Former President Donald Trump in his reelection bid after previously endorsing his brother, Mike Pence’s, failed presidential bid. Pence is going to support the Republican nominee, he said.

Questions like this shouldn’t divide people, which he says has become a problem within his party. Campaigning for another candidate shouldn’t divide people, Pence said.

“Boy, it’s a litmus test, and it wasn’t a litmus test when George Bush ran,” Pence said.

Government accountability

During the Q&A, Pence was asked about accountability with government agencies, specifically when it came to issues with the roll-out of the updated Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). A part of the problem in Pence’s view is that a large number of federal employees are working remotely, he said.

A few weeks ago, the House passed a bill requiring the federal government to take a survey of how many employees were working in the office in Washington, D.C. If a particular building was under 80%, they had to sell the building, he said.

“The average is 30%,” Pence said. “The average in Washington, D.C. [for] the federal government is 30%.”

One way this could be addressed is by getting rid of the large number of political appointees who keep their jobs despite changes in administrations, he said.

He also said the “swamp” is a problem, describing the swamp as government agencies who are now “running the country.” Even Democrats, at least on the Energy and Commerce where he is also a member, are starting to say “wait a minute,” he said.

Electric vehicles, nuclear power

One audience member asked Pence what they could do as an individual to help move electric vehicles forward. Pence suggested they take back their owned vehicle and lease it instead as when technology catches up, the resale value will catch up too, he said.

He also highlighted an unintended consequence of owning electric vehicles that has recently come to light. Homeowners insurance companies have been dropping customers because of fires from electric vehicles, he said.

If people want to buy electric vehicles they can, but America should not move faster than the technology or the country’s ability to generate electricity or to provide an alternative, Pence said.

Pence was also asked about whether there was bipartisan support at the Federal level regarding using nuclear technology, which is cheaper and carbon power. He expressed support for smaller-scale nuclear reactors used to power facilities.

As an example, he discussed new warehouses being built in Whiteland. A problem with these warehouses is that they reportedly don’t have enough electricity coming into the area as other companies, like Amazon, are taking some of the electricity up the road, Pence said.

“But you could put a small nuclear reactor in that area, and it could provide directly — you don’t have to run a whole bunch of new lines — for that whole area. That’s the wave of the future,” he said.

This isn’t without opposition, however. Pence said some people aren’t fully comfortable with this type of energy, or might favor it as long it is not in their backyard, figuratively speaking.

The regulations are there, and states need to get their heads around using nuclear power, Pence said.


Near the end of the meeting, Pence was also asked about extending Trump-era tax cuts. Extending the cuts is up to next administration, he said.

He also discussed the budget and how about Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security take up a large portion of the nation’s budget. He also expressed concern about the nation’s ever-expanding deficit, which has now passed $34 trillion. Politicians won’t discuss it, but having people and companies contribute more to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid could go a long way to helping address the deficit, Pence said.

“But we’re not even going to talk about that,” he said.

If something isn’t done to address the issue, the country could see more taxes on assets. He could see a future where an inheritance tax could come back in effect without action too, he said.