HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2019
Recapping a busy year in southwest Michigan:
KEEPING ASIAN CARP OUT OF THE GREAT LAKES
In July, Fred helped lead the Michigan congressional delegation on a trip to Joliet, IL to see the Brandon Road Lock and Dam to learn more about how this important site helps to keep Asian Carp from flowing upstream towards our Great Lakes. Having grown up on Lake Michigan, I understand the importance of keeping this invasive species out of the Great Lakes so that we can protect our tourism and fishing industries. I will continue to work with my colleagues to make sure we keep Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes.
ADVANCING BIPARTISANSHIP AND CIVILITY
This year, Rep. Debbie Dingell and Fred made a number of stops throughout the state – including Ann Arbor, Mackinac Island, and Detroit – to discuss the need to advance bipartisanship and civility in our politics. We need to renew respect for each other’s perspectives. A vibrant democratic republic depends on vigorous debate — but also recognizes the importance of compromise.
Click here to read more from an op-ed they published in the Detroit News in May.
SUPPORTING OUR FARMERS AND AGRICULTURE COMMUNITY
Southwest Michigan has seen record-level rainfall in 2019 and our farmers have suffered as a result. In July, Fred visited three farms in the district to hear from our farmers and see what could be done to get them additional help. After writing a bipartisan letter to the USDA, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced 43 Michigan counties as primary natural disaster areas, including Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph, and 31 additional counties as contiguous disaster counties, including Kalamazoo and Van Buren. This disaster designation will provide a big help for our agriculture community.
PUTTING AN END TO ROBOCALLS:
Millions of robocalls every year fill up hospital lines, try to steal our personal information and security, and threaten our well-being and sanity. In this year alone, more than 203 million robocalls have been placed in Michigan’s Sixth Congressional District.
This year we took action, passing bipartisan legislation to put an end to illegal robocalls. The TRACED Act passed the U.S. House in early December.
SUPPORTING OUR VETERANS
This year was a big one for supporting our veterans. We passed and the President signed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which extended the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange to veterans who served in the offshore waters of Vietnam and allowed all veterans who have disabilities because of exposure to Agent Orange to receive the benefits they deserve. The VA Mission Act also took effect, meaning veterans now have expanded access to medical care outside of Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. Fred also met with a number of veterans throughout the year. There’s one meeting from November that he particularly wanted to highlight. It was an honor to present Vietnam War Veteran Phil Damico with a Purple Heart award for his service overseas for the stars and stripes. Specialist Damico served his country with distinction, risked his life to protect our freedoms, and did it with unflinching bravery.
GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER FOR CURES 2 –
This December marked the three-year anniversary of President Obama signing 21st Century Cures into law. Three years later, a lot has been accomplished thanks to this bipartisan bill.
Already, because of Cures, we’re able to better prevent and screen cancer, we have a better understanding of the human brain, and we’re improving the field of regenerative medicine. We’ve seen a record number of new drugs approved, including new generics, which have helped lower health care costs for millions of Americans. We’ve increased funding for Alzheimer’s research. New treatment for cystic fibrosis gives patients and their families hope. And we’re on the cusp of finding a cure for sickle cell.
We’re now working on a Cures 2.0. One thing we have heard from listening to folks across the nation is that we need to do more to promote access to these life-saving cures. There are still too many patients without a treatment, and we need to do everything we can to help them now. Follow along with the progress of Cures 2.0 in 2020.
Celebrating the ground breaking on the Indeck Niles Energy Center:
In September, Fred was part of the groundbreaking for the new Indeck Energy Center in Niles. This critical, $1 billion investment will help bring new clean energy to the region, as well as 500 new jobs. This state-of-the-art energy center will generate enough energy to power 700,000 homes and businesses!
PROVIDING MORE RESOURCES FOR FIRST ROBOTICS
Fred worked this year to get the House and Senate to pass his Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act, and the President signed the bill in early October. This new law will mint a $1 silver coin – at no cost to the U.S. taxpayer - in honor of Christa McAuliffe, the teacher and astronaut who perished in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, and all profits will go to support the FIRST program.
SECURING OUR BORDER:
This summer Fred took a trip with the bipartisan Problem Solver’s Caucus to McAllen, TX to see the crisis at the border firsthand – the largest bipartisan group of members to visit the southern border. It was an incredibly sobering visit. This group is committed to working together on finding a solution that makes up for the failures of the past.
PREVENTING GUN VIOLENCE
We’ve all seen communities across the country terrified by mass shootings. Fred has been part of multiple bills to help address gun violence, including enhanced background checks, red flag laws, and working to prevent violence before it occurs.
We have more to do to ensure we protect our families and our communities.
WORKING ON PIPELINE SAFE
On October 1, the federal pipeline safety program’s 2016 authorization expired. Fred introduced legislation, H.R. 4700, the Pipeline Safety Act of 2019, to reauthorize the nation’s pipeline safety program for two years and provide the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the states with additional resources and new authorities to accelerate the hiring of pipeline inspectors. The legislation aims to better protect the nation’s 2.7 million miles of pipeline infrastructure.
In 2010, in Marshall, Michigan, a pipeline burst spilled 20,000 barrels of oil into the Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. I have long been a supporter of strong pipeline safety laws, and we need a bipartisan reauthorization of our nation’s pipeline safety program.
FIGHTING TO LOWER PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS AND PROTECT LIFE-SAVING CURES
We all agree we need to lower prescription drug costs, but there are competing views on how we need to do that. In December, Fred voted against the legislation passed by House Democrats – H.R. 3 – because he is concerned that their bill would stifle innovation, leading to fewer life-saving cures. Furthermore, because this legislation is partisan, it has no chance of moving forward and being passed in the Senate and signed by the President.
H.R. 19, a bipartisan alternative that I support, would protect innovation and lower drug costs. Fred hopes to work with Democrats and Republicans come together in 2020 to pass this bipartisan alternative that will actually become law.