The rampant hypocrisy and partisan bickering over Republican President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nomination is the latest example of members of Congress prioritizing their internal conflicts over the "real" needs of the American people.
And U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., is sick of it.
The first-term Hoosier lawmaker is calling on both Democrats and Republicans to step back from their overheated rhetoric and proposed retaliation relating to the Supreme Court vacancy, and focus instead on what Braun sees as the three key issues the nation must address: health care, the climate, and federal spending.
"Until both of us move off of that, we're probably going to have more of the dynamic we've got now," Braun said. "Both sides need to change their approach."
Braun said the intense partisan focus on the president's judicial appointments, along with cabinet officers and other appointed federal officials, largely stems from the fact Congress has been unable, or unwilling, to reach meaningful compromises on tough policy issues.
"When you've got such divergent ideas on what to do, it puts disproportionate emphasis on appointments because appointments into the bureaucracy and the cabinet have a lot of meaning because they, many would argue, control the every day working of government," Braun said.
Braun acknowledged part of the problem is Democrats and Republicans see government differently.
He said Democrats tend to favor a large federal government, while his Republican Party seems to automatically say no to everything without really considering all the options.
"Our approach cannot be to say no," Braun said. "We've got to be engaged and then come up with innovative, technological, non-federal government type solutions that don't add to a growing deficit every year, a growing debt that we put on our kids and grandkids."
Even when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans since March, Braun said there is little appetite for House Democrats and Senate Republicans to reach a deal on another relief plan.
"Seven or eight of us conservative senators got together to try to help those who needed it the most, who were overlooked in the first round of the CARES Act, and (looking at) how do we repurpose the money that wasn't completely spent from the CARES Act," Braun said.
"Of course that didn't get any interest, and I think every day we go forward, and especially when that opportunity was missed, it's less likely that anything will be done on COVID beyond what's already been done."
Braun said he worries the unceasing partisanship will lead to alternating periods of total gridlock, when control of Congress and the White House is divided between the political parties, or sweeping change when one party has the House, Senate and the White House.
He said Democrats already are talking about "packing" the Supreme Court with additional justices, eliminating the Senate filibuster, and making Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. into states if they win control of the federal government in the Nov. 3 elections.
"If you bring that forward and try to do all that, I think it will crystallize it in a way that will say that the party that does that stuff — especially if it's wholesale across the board — is willing to do anything to stay in power," Braun said.
In the meantime, Braun wishes more than three or four senators besides him were seriously concerned with the nation's finances, particularly the record $3.3 trillion budget deficit for 2020, and the nearly $27 trillion national debt.
"It does bring to light a lot of things that are wrong about the institution itself," Braun said. "We borrow so much money to keep this place running."
"Why do we not come together, in less of a partisan way, to fix the issues?"
Gallery: The Times Photos of the Week
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.