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Senator Donnelly responds to Trump; announces new bipartisan healthcare legislation

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Senator Joe Donnelly is responding after he found himself front and center in President Trump's tax reform speech in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

President Trump called out the Democratic Senator who was in the audience as an invited guest of the President.

"If Senator Donnelly doesn't approve it, because you know he's on the other side, we will come here and we will campaign against him like you wouldn't believe," said President Trump.

On ABC57 News Friday morning Senator Donnelly revealed what he was thinking at that moment.

"When he said 'the other side' I thought there are no other sides. We are all Americans. We are all Hoosiers," said Donnelly.

Senator Donnelly says those kinds of remarks are something he has come to expect from President Trump.

"It didn't bother me at all because I don't work for the President," said Donnelly. "I don't work for the Vice President. I work for the people of Indiana."

He says his entire decision will be based on whether the tax reform plan helps the middle class and whether it creates more jobs in this country.

Senator Donnelly says, there is still a lot of work to be done on the bill before he can get behind it.

"There's very little details at this point and so I am waiting for more details to come out," said Donnelly. "My focus is on keeping jobs here, creating more jobs and making sure that the folks who go to work in the dark and come home in the dark that their paycheck is a little bigger."

The senator also announced that he has been working behind closed doors on new bipartisan healthcare legislation with Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA).

"It helps to fix some of the parts of the healthcare and stabilizes premiums and deductibles," said Donnelly.

According to Senator Donnelly, they are now working with leadership of both parties and could roll out the new legislation as soon as next week.

"I've been working on this for months behind the scenes while other bills have been passed through and shot down," said Donnelly. "We have been working in a bipartisan way to get this done and this may be the moment.."

Senator Donnelly says he believes the legislation would get a significant vote in both houses and could pass.

The senator also addressed the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

"This is a crisis situation. They are Americans just like somebody in Mishawaka or in Elkhart or South Bend or La Porte," said Donnelly.  "They are our brothers and sisters. We need to be there with our military."

The senator warned that the lack of fresh drinking water is creating a host of new problems.

"We have people in different parts of Puerto Rico drinking water out the rivers, so that then becomes a Cholera situation, or other diseases," said Donnelly. "This is getting more dire by the day and we need to be all hands on deck right now."


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