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@MyKitchenTable - June 4, 2020

June 4, 2020

@MyKitchenTable: Thursday, June 4, 2020

Dear Friend:

Our inspiration for the day is from Karen Hering... “Justice is acts of listening, condolence, and conversation.” That is where our nation needs to be today, and every day. We are all reminded to do what we can. As Nelson Mandela said, “Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, and vision WITH action can change the world."

Last night, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus (PSC) held a lengthy zoom meeting with Karen Bass (D-CA), the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, on how we can work together on conrete action in the wake of the George Floyd tragedy. We discussed legislation for a national database so that communities would not hire “bad apples” that otherwise can move from one jurisdiction to another; better accountability standards for all law enforcement to remove conflicts of interest; and HR 3545 (the No Hate Act — I am a cosponsor) that identifies broad gaps in compiling and disseminating data regarding hate crimes. The FBI has promoted the National Incident-based Reporting System to every law enforcement agency and provides better accountability at every level. All four Michigan members of the PSC participated, and we concluded by agreeing to continue to work together on legislation that follows today’s inspiration. It sets the stage for real changes as we broaden the base of decision-makers willing to say “Enough is Enough,” as we are well past the time for racial justice.

Three of us then participated on NBC’s statewide TV Townhall: “The State of Michigan—A virtual town hall with Congressional Leaders,” which included both our Senators and 10 members of our congressional delegation. You can see that hour special HERE where we discussed Coronavirus, the recent protests, and the flooding emergency.

Some good news to start off the day. The Senate last night passed the House version of the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) Flexibility Act by a voice vote after resolving a filibuster issue. The bipartisan PSC had made this a major issue and I was one of the lead Republicans to get it passed last week in the House, 417-1.

The bill extends the period that small businesses can comply with their loans from 8 to 24 weeks and reduces the amount of funds required for employees from 75% to 60%. Once these requirements are met, the loans convert to grants. This is a lifeline for small business and our local lenders. As much as we all wanted this pandemic to end by Easter....it did not happen, and the last thing we need to do is to “stick it” to those that benefitted from the program. I expect the president to sign it ASAP. The Hill had a good story with business groups praising the legislation, which you can see HERE.

Debbie Dingell (D-MI and a member of the PSC) and I had a lengthy conference call with the Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and his team to discuss the Midland dam collapse. You will see the letters the Energy and Commerce Committee sent to them and to the state of Michigan last week seeking information on the collapse. Our call today was to ask additional questions relating to the forensic investigation and try and ascertain what legislative steps we may take relating to the 2,600 small hydro dams producing power that they regulate. There are another 60K dams across the country that do not produce electricity.

Senate Commerce Chair Roger Wicker (R-MS) is eyeing ways to speed up the timeline for an FCC effort to dole out $16B in rural broadband subsidies to telecom providers. Michigan would receive $108M each year for the next ten years. I am the Republican lead in the House with the Democratic Whip, Jim Clyburn (D-SC) to accomplish this goal on bipartisan legislation.

Friday, my day starts with a zoom call with the PSC and No Labels with a good number of Republican and Democrat House and Senate Members to discuss the next CARES funding package involving liability provisions and unemployment insurance. We may also discuss the SMART Act, which would benefit our states and local governments. The only way things get done in divided government is through bipartisan agreements.

COVID news of note:

  • BARDA entered into a partnership with Siemens Healthineers to accelerate development of their antibody test. They will ramp up production with capacity exceeding 50M tests/month, which you can see HERE.
  • BARDA also announced they are collaborating with Quidel Corp to develop a rapid diagnostic test to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus within an hour. The test will simultaneously detect and distinguish other viruses and the capability could help public health departments monitor the spread of COVID-19 infections and take action to help decrease the number of infections in their communities, which you read more about HERE.

ImageToday’s photo is of two Buchanan constituents who promised they social distanced while they spent time at the Weko Beach on Lake Michigan. If you would like us to consider one of your photos, send it HERE—TY.

And be safe as Michigan continues to reopen!

God Bless,

Fred Upton

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