@MyKitchenTable: Thursday, August 20
1 John 3:17-18 is today’s inspiration: “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."
I’m looking forward to welcoming U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to Kalamazoo tomorrow to recognize the efforts of the Farmers to Families Food Box program. Together, USDA and our growers in the community are certainly helping those in need with their actions. Stay tuned!
As reported by the press last week, the White House and the bipartisan Problem Solver’s Caucus began a series of discussions that continues now on developing a bipartisan COVID package that we could pass in the GOP Senate, Democrat House, and then be signed by the president. I continue to see real progress as we try and address the many challenges we face, after both the House and Senate failed to reach a bipartisan consensus. Yes, this pandemic has lasted long past Easter, and the needs of so many of our most vulnerable are stretched to the limit. Many of our municipalities have had tremendous revenue loss and added expenses and our health providers, especially hospitals, still have major gaps in their revenue streams impacting the thousands that collectively work there in our district alone.
The Speaker has called us back into session Saturday to vote on a postal services bill to ensure prompt and reliable postal services during the COVID-19 health emergency and block actions that would impede prompt, reliable, and efficient services. My offices have received close to 1,000 emails and letters recently urging such action. I would note that the Postal Service was authorized in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, and the first Postmaster General was Benjamin Franklin. Included in the House bill is $25B to cover added COVID expenses and ensure that first class service is just that.
Congressional hearings will be conducted in the next couple days (I would note that last May I joined with 26 other House Republicans sending a letter to the Republican leadership and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin urging them to “incorporate provisions that will address the needs of the postal service”). You can read an MLIVE story HERE that ran today on a major sorter that was removed from the Grand Rapids postal facility. There were some reports that other sorters in west Michigan were being considered to be also removed that were capable of sorting hundreds of thousands of letters and parcels per hour. That effort has now been laid to rest as the current Postmaster General issued a “stay” on those cost cutting moves. The House vote is expected to pass by a wide margin on Saturday. I visited our largest postal facility today in Kalamazoo to listen to postal officials from around the state relating to many of the concerns of my constituents. Though this bill is unlikely to receive consideration on its own in the Senate, I do expect to see the postal service receive these additional funds in a bipartisan COVID package shortly. You can watch a video from my visit to the post office HERE. You know that I certainly support our postal workers. They live by their motto: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” And not even amid a global pandemic!
Today I also zoomed with a good number of school superintendents to discuss their immediate needs as schools begin to open. In past years, the state budget has been completed in the spring and schools have had pretty much the entire summer to make their plans for the next school year. Now, there is a real time crunch as we wait and see if we can see movement in a bipartisan congressional package that will likely include money for states/cities/counties and an education element that will provide for funds for K-12 and Higher Education resources directly attributed to COVID expenses. One of our local school districts figured that it would be an additional $500 per student in added costs. I also expect to see elements of the Clyburn-Upton broadband legislation to be included in an overall COVID bill that could help our underserved areas as early as this Fall.
Lastly, on Tuesday, my friend Debbie Dingell and I hosted a virtual event urging civility in our political discourse and calling for more bipartisanship in Washington. We also discussed the Problem Solvers Caucus and our efforts to move past partisan bickering and focus on the issues that matter to the American people. We did an interview together with WOOD TV that will air on Sunday at 10 AM, and you can learn more HERE. The forum was sponsored by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, West Michigan Policy Forum, Grand Rapids Chamber, and Southwest Michigan First. The conversation was virtually hosted by Mike Ford, son of President Gerald R. Ford and Betty Ford, and chair of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation; Bill Pink, president of Grand Rapids Community College; and Mike Jandernoa, policy chair of West Michigan Policy Forum.
Today we have another mask photo from a constituent in Berrien Springs. The photo is of her daughter’s graduation. And she sewed the Shamrock masks for the entire graduating class! TY for sharing!
All the best,