@MyKitchenTable: Wednesday, June 3, 2020
After all the very serious news the last ten days, I thought this Knute Rockne’s quote might provide a little levity..."I won’t know why we lost the game until my barber tells me on Monday."
Listening to Michael Patrick Shiels this morning on WSJM, it was noted that Michigan is the only state that has not either opened up its barber shops/salons or set a date for them to open. GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy asked me on our conference call today if I had gotten a haircut yet, and I responded that neither Bill Huizenga, Debbie Dingell, nor I have seen our usual barber but are patiently waiting for it to change.
Yesterday and today EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler toured West Michigan, looking at a number of sites. We started in Grand Rapids where the announcement was made that between 1970 and 2018, the U.S. has reduced the six main criteria air pollutants by 74% while the economy has grown by more than 275%...and all six of those pollutants have seen reductions by 7% in 2019. It was also indicated that we should expect a formal decision in the coming weeks that Berrien County (and perhaps some other western Michigan counties) will move from “non-attainment” to “attainment” due to Ozone. I have made the point for years that because of Chicago, Gary, and Milwaukee air transport issues, one could remove all human activity in a number of these Michigan counties and we would still be in “non-attainment.” The issue is huge as we look at economic development and even road construction (fix the damn roads!) and penalties that are put into place that will now be lifted.
In addition to the good air quality issues, we toured the $250M EPA Kalamazoo River Superfund site that is removing dams and PCB sediments in Otsego and restoring the river to its proper place. Our first photo today is from the visit with the EPA Administrator in front of the Trowbridge Dam, which is being removed. And the EPA announced a new Great Lakes Advisory Council with members throughout the Great Lakes. We toured GVSU’s outstanding Muskegon facility with their Administrator who will be a member of the Council. As I said in my remarks, “Don’t Mess with the Great Lakes.” It was so important that our Michigan delegation worked hard to reverse and restore the funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is so critical to fighting Asian Carp and other invasive species as well as improving Great Lakes water quality across the region. We have the Administration’s commitment.
Our second photo today is a photo from Audrey Blough, a Lakeshore High School student who won our district’s Congressional Art Competition with her picture of the St. Joe Lighthouse. It is a reminder of the true beauty of our Great Lakes and why we must continue to do all we can to preserve and protect the Great Lakes for generations to come.
Today, I spoke with Loren Hamel, Spectrum/Lakeland Healthcare’s CEO. We announced that as part of CARES, Lakeland would receive $351K to expand telehealth, which you can see HERE. In addition, HHS announced that it is providing $250M to aid U.S. health care systems treating patients and responding to COVID-19. This money will support hospitals and other health care entities to train workforces, expand tele-medicine, and enhance the national capacity and capability to respond to highly infectious diseases today and tomorrow. You can read more HERE. This is why it is so important to see the bipartisan broadband initiative which I announced last week move through the Congress, which will provide more $100M each year for 10 years to Michigan for high speed internet service to rural and underserved areas.
- The New England Journal of Medicine published a study today that hydroxychloroquine does not prevent folks from becoming sick, which you can read in the story from The Hill HERE.
- Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) update - two U.S. Senators are threatening quick action on the House passed flexibility bill, which passed 417-1 last week extending the deadline from 8 weeks to 24 weeks. You can see that story from Roll Call HERE.
- On our GOP conference call with GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, I asked about the probability of the Senate agreeing to the next phase of a spending bill knowing that the House-passed $3.5T package was DOA. McCarthy indicated that nothing was happening yet. GOP Leader McConnell again this week promoted the liability protection provisions that he is insisting should be part of that next package. You can see his comments in the NY Post HERE.
- Today the top Republican (and my successor as Chairman), Greg Walden, of the Energy and Commerce Committee announced the E&C Second Wave Preparedness Project. We released the first pillar of recommendations focusing on testing and surveillance. The full 51-page report (including a 1-page summary) can be found HERE.
- HHS awarded $20.3M to 44 recipients to increase the number of fellows at accredited addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry fellowship programs. The awardees will train addiction specialists at facilities in high need communities that could be exacerbated by COVID-19, which you can see HERE.
- NIH Director Francis Collins released a new blog post, “Will Warm Weather Slow Spread of Novel Coronavirus?” One research team found that human’s current lack of immunity, not the weather, will likely be a primary factor, which you can see HERE.
- Siemens Healthineers received an FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for CoV-2 Total Antibody Test that has demonstrated 100% sensitivity and 99.8% in identifying antibodies. They have production capacity for more that 50M tests/month and is available on the largest installed base in the U.S., which you can see HERE.
- CNN reported that Dr. Fauci indicated that the U.S. should have 100M doses of one Coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2020, and by the beginning of 2021, “We hope to have a couple hundred million doses,” during a live Q&A with the Journal of the AMA, which you can see HERE.
Lastly let me again point out that it is well past the time for racial justice and the need to end police brutality. Accountability at all levels is absolutely required. My staff and I have reached out to community leaders engaging in real dialogue to move forward. I participated in the Benton Harbor peaceful demonstration Sunday and continue to speak out against violence. I will be joining a working group of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus discussion specifically on these issues this evening - with special guest Rep. Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus - prior to a bipartisan Michigan congressional televised forum on WOOD TV yet tonight.
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