@MyKitchenTable: Thursday, September 10, 2020
On somewhat of a lighthearted inspiration, Henry Kissinger said, “I have been called indispensable and a miracle worker. I know, because I remember every word I say."
I remember well going to a dinner where he was nominated for President as a spoof and he spoke, saying he could imagine being at the U.S. Capitol on January 20, raising his right hand with his left hand placed on one of his books (in lieu of the Bible) with the ending phrase, “So help me....Me." One of my faithful Kitchen Table readers sat with me that night.
Today’s mask photo of the day is from Sturgis! A constituent sent a photo of their son Tommy from his first day of 2nd grade. TY for sharing! If you’d like to share a photo of your favorite mask, click HERE.
Some important news these last few days.
The bipartisan Problem Solver’s Caucus (PSC) had hours of zoom calls the past week as we get closer to finding a “sweet spot’ for the next COVID package. My hope is that when the House reconvenes next week that we affirm a bipartisan proposal to get the talks “off the dime” and let our respective leaders know there is a solution that indeed can pass and the president can sign. It would provide help to our units of government from state capitals to township halls for both COVID-related expenses and loss of revenues (including gas tax revenue). Receipts required and no funding for pension fund losses, etc. The Senate earlier today on pretty much a straight party line vote denied the “skinny” COVID package 52-47 (needed 60 votes) to proceed with amendments or passage. As schools are back open, more funds are needed for testing, small businesses looking for another round of PPP, health providers still struggling with enormous losses. It was our hope that this would be over by Easter but that’s long past. There are real needs to be met particularly with the most vulnerable. The Hill wrote a good piece headlined, “Targeted stimulus crucial to keeping U.S. recovery going,” which you can find HERE.
The first lake freighter arrived at Central Dock in Benton Harbor today and unloaded the first tonnage getting ready to finish the U.S. 31 connection to I-94 and I-96 that will be done in 2022. Earmarks by former Appropriation Chair State Senator Harry Gast and myself coupled with Al Pscholka’s work to deliver this on the MDOT priority list will secure this vital link from the Indiana State line to the finish line. The final $20M was directed by DOT in November 2018 and survived the government shutdown and COVID.
Today the NIH is announcing 2 of 3 adaptive clinical tests evaluating the safety and effectiveness of varying types of blood thinners to treat adults diagnosed with COVID. You can read that link HERE.
I had a very encouraging discussion with Pfizer relating to their Portage production of a COVID vaccine right here. They remain on a path to produce 40M doses before the end of the year with 1.3B produced between Portage and Belgium by the end of next year. Their CEO was on the Today Show yesterday and again committed that they would cut no corners in their quest for an FDA Emergency Use Authorization and their Phase 3 trial of some 30K individuals is complete. He had told our local folks to “spare no expense” in getting this project underway and they have kept their word. Their plan is to sequence the genetic code rather than use a live or dead virus to activate one’s immune system. Clearly, they are well underway and it is absolutely essential as we look to the future and emerge from the effects of this pandemic.
We heard the news yesterday regarding AstraZeneca’s pause in their enrollment of their vaccine trials after an adverse event was reported. The news highlights the importance of waiting for the results of large, properly designed trials to assess safety prior to any approval for widespread use. The woman who triggered the global shutdown of the AZ Phase 3 trial experienced neurological symptoms consistent with a rare but serious spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis, which you can see HERE and HERE.
Yesterday the Energy and Commerce Committee “marked up” some 38 bills lasting nearly eight zoom hours, of which 37 were bipartisan. We had two important Energy Subcommittee bills, one of which strengthens the National Nuclear Security Administration’s ability to implement and perform the Department’s national security mission. A number of health subcommittee bills were passed dealing with insurance covering birth defects, mental health access, school based health clinic reauthorization, horse anti-doping, stopping senior scams, pediatric rare cancers, suicide training. They are now ready for the House floor.
The 7-day average for new COVID cases is 35,594 according to the CDC. It has continued to generally trend down since July 24. You can see the Johns Hopkins website worldwide case information HERE as well as a U.S. map including a county specific HERE.
Today I sent a letter to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority after hearing that none of the more than $39M from the CARES Act for Michigan approved in July and September had found their way down to Kalamazoo after hearing nearly a month ago that the money would be distributed then.
I cosponsored bipartisan legislation to provide tax credits to protect the safety of businesses and their employees and customers during the COVID pandemic, which you can see HERE. It allows employers to qualify for a payroll tax credit for 50% of their qualified expenses for PPE, disinfecting, reconfiguring work space, etc. It reminds me of my legislation years ago providing tax credits to small businesses making structural changes to comply with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) when they added ramps, wider doors and the like that became law. Kweisi Mfume was my Democrat co-author who later became head of the NAACP and now is back in Congress, having won the Baltimore special election seat previously held by Elijah Cummings. I can remember when it was enacted and the legislation labeled by some as the most important legislation enacted impacting small business that year, him coming to me asking in jest what I had done to his reputation as a progressive democrat with a previous Chamber voting record of zero.
Lastly, last week I again singled out a number of local businesses identified by SW Michigan First (similar to what we did in the twin cities several weeks ago) that really stepped up to produce essential medical supplies and PPE for consumers. You can read more HERE. When one adds it all up, literally over 1,000,000 masks, shields, and other PPE have been produced right here in SW Michigan. I particularly was pleased with Goodwill Industries that have produced 100K face shields and for sale ($5 or less) that can be purchased by anyone (is Halloween going to take place?) and available at any of their stores.
Here is a list of businesses we honored that day:
- Humphrey Products
- Schupan Aluminum & Plastic Sales
- Green Door Distilling Co.
- Duncan Aviation
- Fabri Kal
- Total Plastics
- Freeman Manufacturing
- Summit Polymers
- Crown Trophy
- Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan
Thank you all!!
Lastly, Flu season is around the corner. As a community we need to do everything we can to prevent a flu outbreak, which, coupled with the COVID-19 challenges, could devastate our state’s economy and health system. I’d encourage you to get this year’s flu shot. Click HERE to see the nearest location to you to get one.
All the best,