U.S. Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana, speaks during an interview with the Daily Journal at the Greenwood City Center on Friday. Pence was holding community office hours at the city center.

Noah Crenshaw | Daily Journal

For the last two months, the U.S. House of Representatives has been in a state of reorganization as the new Republican majority took the reins.

First, there were 15 votes to elect House speaker Kevin McCarthy as in early January. Since then, House members have been having meetings and debates on the rules for the chamber, along with House committees, said U.S. Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana. Pence’s district includes Johnson County, along with most of Bartholomew County, and parts of Marion, Shelby, Hancock, Union, Rush, Fayette, Wayne, Randolph and Henry counties.

The House has not been in session for the last two weeks. Next week though, lawmakers will be back in Washington and will be introducing new legislation — including Pence.

Pence sat down with the Daily Journal for an interview about his upcoming bills, China, Ukraine and the debt ceiling during his community office hours at the Greenwood City Center on Friday.

Upcoming legislation

When work resumes in the House on Monday, Pence plans to introduce two bills to the House Energy and Commerce committee. The first bill, the Global Investment in American Jobs Act, is a bill he previously introduced last Congress.

The Global Investment in American Jobs Act would require the U.S. Department of Commerce to study the global competitiveness of the United States in attracting foreign direct investment and addressing foreign trade barriers that firms in advanced technology sectors face in the global digital economy, according to the bill’s digest.

In layman’s terms, Pence says the proposal is designed to look at how officials can enhance and promote foreign investment from friendly countries, and not “bad actors” like Iran, North Korea or China.

“We want to reassure a lot of the supply chain,” Pence said. “We’ve just realized, post-pandemic, that we’ve got a supply chain problem because everybody moved everything out of the United States. Well, let’s promote and incentivize and figure out how to do that for countries we like.”

House Resolution 1140 is the other bill Pence plans to introduce next week. The bill would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to issue emergency 90-day waivers to remove limits and restrictions on energy resources during national crises. Currently, the waivers can only be issued by Congress, he said.

“If China cut us off from critical minerals or things that we need in manufacturing or defense, then the EPA actually can’t waive restrictions and limits we have on our own refineries or mines,” Pence said. “That would have to be passed by Congress because they don’t have the authority to waive limits or restrictions.”

Both proposals have already passed out of subcommittee unanimously, and Pence believes they’ll get unanimously passed out of committee as well.

Debt ceiling

Since January, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has been warning that the U.S. would be at risk of default if Congress didn’t either raise or suspend the country’s debt ceiling. The debt ceiling is the maximum amount that the U.S. government can borrow by issuing bonds.

The concern over the debt ceiling is the result of a political showdown between House Republicans, who are demanding spending cuts, and President Joe Biden, a Democrat who insists on raising the limit without conditions. The Treasury Department is currently using “extraordinary measures” to avoid default on the nation’s $31.4 trillion borrowing authority, though this is expected to run out sometime in June.

Pence says he will not support raising the debt ceiling and questions the timing of the warning. In December, the House passed a $1.7 trillion omnibus bill — which he voted against — and three weeks later the Treasury Department announced the country had hit its debt ceiling.

No one got to see the text of the bill because it came in from the Senate one day earlier, Pence said. The Senate did not send it over as an appropriations bill.

“They just gave us an omnibus of $1.7 trillion for this year,” he said. “People in Washington, D.C. knew that we had already hit our debt ceiling when they pass that bill. They had to know that.”

“Mature, adult conversation” is needed on the debt ceiling, Pence said lawmakers shouldn’t pass bills like that and keep raising the credit limit. Raising the ceiling to avoid default is a faulty premise; because default’s definition is whether the can U.S. pay its interest payments, not how close it is to the debt ceiling.

Pence believes Congress can make these payments and also not raise the debt ceiling by reducing some of the $1.7 trillion from the omnibus spending bill. He estimates there will be about a trillion dollars in interest, and if Congress makes that payment, the U.S. won’t default.

It’s inaccurate for people to say the country will, he said.

“A default is defined by not paying your bills … and the Constitution requires that we pay our bills,” Pence said. “It’s not required that we raise the debt ceiling. So I’m a no (on raising it). It’s time to figure out how we quit doing this.”


For the last several months, China and its influence on the United States have been the subject of scrutiny by leaders across the country. Scrutiny that has intensified since the rise of TikTok, allegations of economic theft and the U.S. Air Force’s downing of a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina.

In light of the recent attention, Pence says he believes more Americans have come to the realization that the U.S. is in an economic war with China and something has to be done.

Manufacturers have told Pence that Chinese companies have stolen U.S. intellectual property. Along with one-way trade deals, Chinese companies have also allegedly undercut U.S. businesses with government support, he said.

This was the reason why Congress enacted embargoes on Chinese steel six years ago, Pence said.

“They went from really a backward third-world country to now they’re equal in their economic power,” he said. “They’ve done things at our expense, and we need to stop that.”

This is not only part of the impetus behind Pence’s bills, but also for bringing manufacturing back to the United States, he said.

China has also stonewalled attempts to get information about a lab in Wuhan, China, which some believe could be where COVID-19 originated, he said. A new House Oversight subcommittee is currently investigating the lab’s possible connection to COVID-19 and whether U.S. funds were sent to the lab.


As the Russian-Ukrainian war has now entered its second year, Biden has planned to offer additional financial and military aid to Ukraine.

Pence, however, is opposed to offering additional aid to Ukraine — a position he’s held since last year. He will continue to not support additional U.S. funding until he is convinced there is accountability for where the funding is going.

“They’ve yet to do it. There’s nothing that I thought President Biden did to belay my fears in that respect,” Pence said. “He goes over, he meets with (Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky), gives him another $500 million after Zelensky got rid of half his cabinet because of corruption.”

Pence says lawmakers have been concerned about possible corruption for years. Former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence — his brother — did not attend Zelensky’s swearing-in because of corruption concerns, he said.

Other members of Congress have been talking about accountability as well, though there is a divide.

“I’m not alone in that,” Pence said. “But I would say that we’re very divided in the Republican Party on this issue as well.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.