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Donnelly gives maiden speech in Senate

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly called for an “opportunity agenda” based on “Hoosier common sense” to create American jobs during his maiden speech Wednesday afternoon on the Senate floor.

In cities across Indiana, “The message is the same everywhere: It’s about jobs and the chance to go to work and take care of your family,” the first-year senator said in an 11-minute speech broadcast by C-SPAN.

“If we don’t have a job, nothing else works,” said Donnelly, D-Ind.

He said Indiana residents have told him the federal government should design job training programs that satisfy employer needs, reduce and streamline business regulations and “go all in” on encouraging every type of domestic energy exploration and production, including the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

“In Fort Wayne, I heard about businesses dealing with too many regulations that don’t make any sense for their particular industry,” Donnelly said. “It’s time to get rid of the bureaucratic mess and to keep what works. Regulations should be like the umpire on the field -- make sure everybody is playing by the rules, make sure that the rules are common sense and then stay in the background.”

During two visits to Fort Wayne in March, Donnelly toured a software development company and had a roundtable discussion with about 20 business leaders.

Donnelly, 57, a resident of Granger in St. Joseph County, was regarded as a political moderate or centrist during his six years in the U.S. House. He indicated he will continue to stake out that position in the Senate.

“And here’s what I’m about -- taking the best ideas from both parties, both sides of this chamber, and getting things done, starting with jobs,” he said.

He said Hoosiers “make decisions based on what’s best for our families,” and they expect the government “to keep taxes low, cut waste and don’t throw more money at the problem, just try to solve the problem.”

Indiana residents “don’t want a free lunch. All we want is a fair shake,” Donnelly said.

He also saluted his predecessor, 36-year Republican incumbent Richard Lugar; Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind.; and former Indiana senators Dan Quayle, a Republican, and Democrats Birch Bayh and his son, Evan Bayh.