Indiana Rep. Frank Mrvan, a newly elected moderate Democrat, said the key to winning back working men and women who supported President Trump is producing “deliverables” to recover the manufacturing base, strengthen Made-in-America provisions and invest in new infrastructure.
Mrvan, a union-backed Democrat who represents northwest Indiana, said his priority is never forgetting the working men and women.
“We want to be able to have a party that protects them, and a party that looks out for them not just during an election cycle, but for the next four years, and making sure that there is work for them,” Mrvan told Fox News in an interview during congressional orientation.
Mrvan added: “I think the Democratic Party has to do everything that they can to recover the manufacturing base, the steel industry, labor and protect them.”
Mrvan, whose district includes Gary, ran on supporting public school education, strengthening the U.S. steel industry and boosting U.S. manufacturing and skilled trades.
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He supports improving the Affordable Care Act, addressing climate change, investing in workforce development, making college more affordable and passing an infrastructure bill that will put more Americans to work.
“That is a priority of mine, and I believe that that should be a priority of the Democratic Party, focusing on the working men and women [and] making sure they’re not forgotten or left behind,” Mrvan, 51, said.
Mrvan said the divided Congress, with Democrats only holding a slim majority, will be “good” for America because it will force lawmakers to negotiate and find solutions that most Americans support.
“As a Democratic Party, we are now in a position to lead,” Mrvan said. “We have to have deliverables that the majority of the nation finds important. And we are in a national crisis, so that should be what’s leading us.”
Mrvan didn’t run on progressive ideas – such as the Green New Deal, “Medicare-for-all” or defunding the police. And he thinks today’s Democratic Party still has the best interests at heart for Americans in the heartland.
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“To me, the Democratic Party hasn’t lost its soul and it hasn’t gone too far left,” Mrvan said. “To me, the Democratic Party wants solutions and we have to be able to provide them.”
While teachers and manufacturing union leaders had endorsed President-elect Joe Biden in the 2020 election, Trump garnered plenty of support among rank-and-file union members. He appealed to them with the negotiation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that replaced NAFTA, which was approved during the Clinton administration, and his pursuit of an “America First” message that chides free traders on both sides of the aisle.
Mrvan wants fair trade deals that protect the U.S. steel industry said the USMCA deal was a “starting point.”
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Mrvan, a husband and father of two daughters, grew up in the public spotlight. His father, also Frank Mrvan, has worked in Indiana Democratic politics for more than 40 years. At age 87, he’s still serving as a state senator.
Mrvan is accustomed to holidays spent at parades and weekends at community events. Growing up the son of a public figure exposed him to diverse pockets of Indiana and he is comfortable with building relationships.
For the last 15 years, he served as North Township trustee, an elected executive position where he represented 180,000 people. The duties of the trustee include administering emergency services to people who are in poverty or on the brink of a financial crisis by assigning social workers and caseworkers to help. Lately, he’s been on the front lines of addressing the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mrvan broadened the trustee’s role by new partnerships with police on suicide prevention and making social workers available to follow up on certain police calls. His most consequential legacy is starting a program called “No More Secrets” to help school children recognize and report child molestation.
“My wife is a survivor of child molestation,” Mrvan said. “Her sister was a survivor also and turned to opiates and is no longer with us and left three kids behind. So that impacted my life a great deal every single day.”
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Mrvan helped launch a program to have professionals and survivors go into schools to talk to children in an age-appropriate way about predators. As a result, 73 children out of 12,000 kids came forward with substantiated cases of abuse, Mrvan said.
His local community program prompted Mrvan to expand the outreach across the state of Indiana. With the help of his father in the Senate, Mrvan successfully pushed legislation that unanimously passed in 2017 that required all school children in Indiana in grades K-12 to receive one hour of instruction each school year on body safety, Internet safety and phone safety.
Now in Congress, Mrvan wants to make gains on a nationwide level on stopping child molestation. “I’m going to advocate for empowering children and making sure that we address that issue.”
Mrvan is a strong ally of public schools and he disagrees with outgoing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ school choice provisions.
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Public taxpayer dollars should go to public schools, not private schools, he said. And charters should receive fewer taxpayer funds than public schools, Mrvan said.
“It is a drain on the public education system,” Mrvan said of charters. “Ultimately you’re not going to shut down charter schools, right, but you’ve got to be able to figure out a formula within not only the states but within the United States that puts less federal funding into charter schools and more funding into public schools because it has a major impact on communities.”
Mrvan also wants increased funding for public school teachers.
“What I know about teachers in Indiana is they’re woefully underpaid,” Mrvan said.
Mrvan succeeds retiring Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., who had been in Congress for 36 years. He had Visclosky’s endorsement for the rare open seat.
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Mrvan does not support term limits for lawmakers in Congress or state capitals because he said the bodies are strengthened by institutional knowledge and voters have the ultimate power to kick out ineffective members.
“How I was raised and my philosophy is that term limits automatically exist especially as a member of Congress,” Mrvan said. “If I don’t produce deliverables, if I don’t protect the steel industry, if I don’t focus on education, if I don’t do what we can to bring our economy back, and to be able to take care of this health care crisis and have district-centric deliverables and winning moments, then term limits exist because there will always be someone at my back saying they can do it better.”