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After three terms in the House, Donnelly is taking his record as a legislative moderate to the north side of the Capitol for the 113th Congress (2013-14).
As a Blue Dog Democrat, he advocated fiscal discipline along with national security priorities in the House. As a senator, he will focus on helping Indiana businesses create jobs, strengthening the economy and lowering the debt, according to his campaign spokeswoman. She says his preferred committee assignments include Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Armed Services; Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and Veterans Affairs. He serves on House Financial Services and Veterans Affairs committees.
While considered a fiscal hawk, Donnelly also is a strong ally of organized labor, a combination born of his manufacturing-oriented district.
He has long prided himself on being independent of party dogma. His party unity score, the percent of annual votes in which he sided with his party when a majority of Democrats opposed a majority of Republicans, has never exceeded 79. In his first week in the House in 2007, Donnelly was one of four freshman Democrats to vote against a measure to lift restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research. He also has opposed gun control, abortion rights, same-sex marriage and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
During the health care debate in the 111th Congress (2009-10), Donnelly was among the anti-abortion Democrats who at first stood firm in their insistence on tougher abortion funding restrictions.
But he agreed to support the bill after President Obama promised to sign an executive order that ensured no tax credits or cost-sharing reduction payments would be used for abortion-related services in the insurance exchange. It also was supposed to ensure that federal community health center funding is subject to the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding of abortions. Critics called the executive order a fig leaf.
Donnelly has also bucked Democratic Party leaders directly by opposing a bid by outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California to be minority leader in the 112th Congress (2011-12). He also voted for Democrat Heath Shuler of North Carolina, rather than Pelosi, for Speaker.
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