August 17, 2020
@MyKitchenTable: Monday, August 17, 2020
"Faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:17
Today we saw the very best of faith in action and loving thy neighbor at the Kalamazoo Gospel Ministries. Sadly, on Saturday we saw the very worst when the Proud Boys came to Kalamazoo. They are a hateful group with a hateful mission, and they need to crawl back under whatever rock they came from. They have no place in Kalamazoo and no place in America. We have to speak out every chance we get. All it takes for evil to exist in this world is for good men to do nothing. There was a story in the Herald Palladium over the weekend about the new group, Brave Talks, and my good friend Liz Garey. Brave Talks is a newer group that brings folks together to discuss racism and encourage listening, and you can read more HERE.
Photos byJoel Bissell | MLIVE
This afternoon, it was an honor to join U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Pastor Mike Brown for a discussion on homelessness and a tour of their facilities. For eight decades, Kalamazoo Gospel Ministries has been a place of hope and healing for the Kalamazoo community, but never has their work been more important than right now in these uncertain times. Today, the Mission provides shelter for nearly 75% of the homeless population in the Kalamazoo area.
Pre-COVID, while I was volunteering and distributing meals to 400+ folks in Kalamazoo at the Mission, Pastor Brown asked if we could arrange a visit for Secretary Carson to highlight the extraordinary work they’re doing. The answer was a resounding ‘yes!’ We are so grateful for everything they are doing to support the most vulnerable in our community, especially today.
Another part of the visit was to highlight the importance of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This emergency funding has been a lifeline for so many organizations in southwest Michigan and across the country. In fact, the Gospel Ministries received $460,000 in PPP funds, which has helped them in their efforts to provide support to the southwest Michigan community.
Thank you, Pastor Brown, for inviting us to visit and for hosting all of us today! You can see some more photos from the visit from MLIVE HERE.
A topic that has been in the news – the USPS. I have always been and will always be a supporter of the USPS and our postal workers. For the past several months, I’ve been calling on Congressional leaders to include additional emergency funding for the USPS. Because of the pandemic, the USPS is facing a tightening budget crunch. I urged the Speaker last week to bring the House back to D.C. to address this issue with bipartisan legislation, and we are going to be back on Saturday to hopefully vote on legislation that strengthens the postal service. Stay tuned.
On Tuesday, fellow vice-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and I will be continuing our “civility tour” with a stop in Grand Rapids. For the past year-and-a-half, she and I have done a number of events in Ann Arbor at the Ford School of Public Policy, Mackinac Island, Detroit, and Washington D.C. promoting civility and bipartisanship. The country is too divided. Before we are Republicans or Democrats, we are Americans. We have to remember that. Our event will be streamed live on Facebook tomorrow at noon, and you can watch that HERE.
I hope you may be interested in this Politico story “Racing for the Vaccine” regarding partnerships between drug developers, manufacturers, and the government teaming up together in the fight against COVID-19. Exactly what we envisioned when Diana DeGette (D-CO) and I worked together to enact 21st Century Cures when I chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee in 2016. She and I participated in a Zoom forum Friday with the Milken Institute to talk about our next steps, Cures 2.0. We’re working on more developments for tele-health, using real-world evidence for trials, and an emphasis for more diversity in trials. More health research, particularly for rare diseases, are likely to be elements of the bill as we continue to listen to the research community. Thus far, we have received over 500 written suggestions as we try to put together yet another bipartisan bill with some items likely to reach the president’s desk this Fall and others in the next congress. You can see that Politico story HERE.
You may have seen this welcome news from CNN today on saliva testing for COVID. If you have been reading my report since April, you’ll know that we also have a Michigan entity that has made great progress through the FDA and NIH hurdles for a similar test that can be done in 15 minutes or so at about $12. One of the important steps needed to be done to restore our way of life is both expanded, instant and accurate testing that is inexpensive, coupled with a vaccine and therapeutics. These products will in fact be game-changers and is a direct result of the $1.8B that was included in the PPP that the president signed in April instructing the NIH to develop this program. You can see that CNN story HERE. In addition, there was another Politico story from Friday that discussed these self-administered COVID tests HERE.
Lastly, The Hill interviewed Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the NIH, who discussed the speed of COVID-19 vaccine development, confirming once again that there will be no corners cut regarding safety in the approval process. In passing 21st Century Cures, we absolutely wanted to ensure the safety and efficacy of the new drugs and devices that would make it through an expedited process. You can read that story HERE.
We’re still getting a number of photos of folks in their favorite masks. We love to see them! Today’s photo is from constituents in Watervliet during their family trip to the John Ball Zoo. TY for sharing. If you’d like to submit a photo, please click HERE.
All the best,