INDIANAPOLIS – IN Focus is recapping the top stories that dominated 2021 this week, after another year filled with unprecedented challenges and pandemic-fueled political discord.
The year began with major divisions stemming from the results of 2020 election, culminating with the events at the Capitol on January 6.
Afterwards, some Republican members of Indiana’s congressional delegation found themselves under scrutiny with Democrats calling for their resignations.
Earlier this year, IN Focus spoke with Senators Todd Young and Mike Braun, as well as Democratic Congressman Andre Carson and former Senator Joe Donnelly to get their thoughts on what transpired.
Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President just weeks later on January 20. It was a truly historic event, with Kamala Harris becoming the first African American and South Asian American to become Vice President. IN Focus political insiders Abdul-Hakim Shabazz and Lara Beck provided their analysis on the moment and what it meant for Washington politics.
The first few months of 2021 saw several Hoosiers join the Biden administration, namely White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. In our IN Focus: Path out of the Pandemic town hall, we heard from Secretary Buttigieg and what Indiana stands to gain, from stimulus to infrastructure.
Like much of the country, Indiana dealt with devastating COVID-19 numbers, with politicians repeatedly looking for strategies to either mitigate or live with the effects of the virus. IN Focus spoke one-on-one with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, to get his advice on how to slow the spread. Throughout the year we heard from local leaders, such as State Party Chair for the Indiana Democrats Mike Schmuhl, to get their thoughts on the state’s efforts to get Hoosiers vaccinated. We also spoke with RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, commenting on the Trump Administration’s response to the pandemic, Operation Warp Speed, and the former president’s varied support for the COVID-19 vaccine.
President Biden saw some of his key policies pass through Congress, such as the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. However, recent setbacks have frustrated Democrats on Capitol Hill, such as Senator Joe Manchin’s rejection of the Build Back Better bill and the ongoing litigation regarding President Biden’s vaccine mandate for private employers. DNC Chair Jaime Harrison spoke with IN Focus, commenting on the party’s priorities and what Democrats are still looking to achieve.
Turning to Statehouse politics, Governor Eric Holcomb was busy through much of 2021 dealing with a lawsuit against the Indiana General Assembly and Attorney General Todd Rokita. Holcomb filed against the legislature in April over an emergency powers bill that gave lawmakers the ability to call themselves into session. Under the bill, the legislature could also enact bills without the governor’s approval. Gov. Holcomb said the bill was unconstitutional, and the case looks to continue well into 2022. Gov. Holcomb sat down with IN Focus for a wide-ranging interview, also touching on the state’s pandemic recovery.
We also spoke with Attorney General Todd Rokita to get his view on the lawsuit and other issues facing the United States, such as vaccine mandates and CRT in Indiana schools.
Indiana is seeing a rise in crime across the state, especially in Indianapolis. The city broke it’s all-time homicide records, leaving many local officials to look for answers. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett spoke with Courtney Crown to describe his efforts to combat violent crime and promote safer streets.
It all comes as Indiana struggles with another wave of COVID-19 infections, fueled this time by the Omicron variant. Hospitals across the state are quickly becoming overwhelmed, with some even calling in the National Guard for help. We recently spoke with medical professionals in the Hoosier State to get a sense of what it’s like battling the pandemic on the frontlines. Watch our discussion with Dr. Ram Yeleti of Community Health Network and Professor Thomas Duszynski in the video below.