As the events from Minneapolis have consumed much of our nation’s thoughts and energies, it is this quote from Mahatma Gandhi that truly underscores today’s charge: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."
I participated in the peaceful protest Sunday afternoon in Benton Harbor with Mayor Marcus Muhammad and a number of Benton Harbor elected officials. Accountability is the key ingredient for us all to be judged on our actions. The circumstances surrounding the tragic and chilling death of George Floyd certainly seem to be without mystery to most of us outsiders and justice needs to be pursued in a swift course. And, what happened there needs to serve as yet another waking moment for the rest of us to take into account as it relates to our jobs and lives. There are no excuses... you know and I know we are better than this.
Our Governor rescinded the Safer at Home Order moving Michigan to Phase Four of the Michigan Safe Start Plan. This order allows retailers to reopen on June 4 and restaurants on June 8. It also allows for groups of 100 or less to gather outdoors while social distancing. We all continue to urge folks, particularly while inside retail establishments, to wear masks and wash hands frequently. You can see her Executive Order HERE.
She will be testifying tomorrow before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee with 2 other governors. Though I do not serve on this particular Subcommittee, I will not ask to “waive” on as we have EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in Southwest Michigan Tuesday and Wednesday discussing air quality, superfund, and Great Lakes water quality.
The Senate is back in session today and for the next 5 weeks. There are indications that they may simply accept the flexibility provisions that the House passed last week 417-1 for the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) extending the 8 weeks to 24 weeks for the time required for small businesses to use those loans for employee expenses. By doing so, they will be able to convert those loans to grants. This was a major initiative pushed by the Problem Solver’s Caucus (PSC) and I was a lead GOP co-sponsor. I heard again from a number of small businesses today their fear that we will not act in time to extend the deadline.
Kathryn Jansen, Senior VP and Head of Vaccine RandD at Pfizer wrote this article for Politico on rapid vaccine developments in the war against Coronavirus. Much of the “compressed schedule” to see this vaccine to fruition is a direct result of the “21st Century Cures” legislation I helped author with Diana DeGette (D-CO), signed by President Obama in 2016. As we know, should Pfizer continue to see positive results, they plan to develop and manufacture the vaccine right here in Kalamazoo. You can read her story HERE.
Our Energy and Commerce Committee has begun the task of identifying the tragic circumstances of the Edenville Dam collapsing in Midland, Michigan 2 weeks ago. My Michigan colleagues Debbie Dingell, Tim Walberg, and I sent letters to FERC and to the State requesting appropriate information so that we can begin to consider legislation that will prevent this from happening to any community in the future. You can see that news HERE with the accompanying letters.
Today’s constituent photo is from Edwardsburg, where he was self distancing in his driveway at 2 AM taking an incredible picture of M51, the Whirpool Galaxy. TY for sharing! If you would like to submit a photo, please click HERE.
No Kitchen Table report tomorrow as feet out the door before 7 a.m. and a late return with EPA Administrator Wheeler. Be safe.
If you would like to submit photos to share in these Kitchen Table updates of you social distancing, in your masks, working from home, and other photos of how you are keeping safe during the coronavirus pandemic, please click here.