In the kind of news that ought to be making headlines, Indiana’s U.S. Sen. Todd Young keeps working to solve practical problems.
What’s more, Young, a Republican, usually is cooperating with one or more Democratic senators on his projects — at a time when that’s supposed to be impossible.
In one of his crusades, Young, a former Marine, seeks to pass the Veterans Expedited TSA Screening (VETS) Safe Travel Act.
“I was shocked to learn about the conditions disabled veterans face when traveling by air throughout our country. Many of these brave men and women are in wheelchairs, are amputees or both. These veterans took an oath to protect our nation but are now subjected to a rigorous and demeaning screening process when traveling,” Young wrote.
He described how one veteran, who lost his arm in combat, faces an ordeal every time he passes through a Transportation Security Administration check at an airport. With one arm, he has to take off his belt and shoes, then remove a laptop from his bag.
Then, the wounded veteran must take off his prosthetic arm or be patted down, then swabbed, for explosive residue in front of everyone.
Young said another veteran lost his right leg in the service. When he approached the security checkpoint at his local airport, a TSA officer told him, “I’m sorry, sir, I’m going to have to pull off your prosthetic so that we can swab it down.”
“This man had given his leg in an explosion to protect our freedom to fly safely and without fear, and now he was being treated as a potential threat to the people he swore to defend,” Young wrote.
Young’s bill would grant certain disabled veterans the privilege to use TSA PreCheck at no cost, provided they pass a background check and interview process. TSA PreCheck greatly speeds and simplifies the security process at airports. The standard price is $85 for a five-year membership.
“Currently, there are about 70,000 amputee, 100,000 paralyzed and 130,000 blind veterans who desperately need the relief this bill would provide,” Young wrote.
Young’s Democratic partner on this bill understands the problem all too well. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois was a U.S. Army helicopter pilot. She lost both her legs when her Black Hawk ’copter was shot down over Iraq in 2004.
Making education affordable
Young is partnering with two Democrats and one Republican on the ISA Student Protection Act to improve financing options for postsecondary education.
With an ISA (Income Share Agreement), a student agrees to pay a percentage of his or her future income over a specified time period in exchange for tuition payments from private sources. When the agreed timeframe ends, the student stops payments regardless of whether the initial amount was paid back to the ISA funder.
Young’s bill would safeguard ISAs to protect students and ensure their success in the workforce, he said.
“If we strengthen the framework of ISAs, we can help colleges and career and technical schools prepare Americans for rewarding careers, all without any additional cost to taxpayers,” Young said. It sounds like a sensible alternative to the notion of “free college for all.”
ISAs are endorsed by Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University, which has been offering ISAs for four years through its “Back a Boiler” program. Daniels also deserves praise for holding tuition steady since 2012 at Purdue, while it rises steeply elsewhere
OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Dave Kurtz, Grace Housholder, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. Publisher Terry Housholder is also a member of the editorial board. We welcome readers’ comments.