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@MyKitchenTable - October 9, 2020

Dear Friend:

Walt Disney said, “Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it’s done, and done right.”  

One could certainly say that about our bipartisan Problem Solver’s Caucus (PSC) efforts for a COVID relief package.  We have not given up and after I filed my Kitchen Table report on Tuesday when the president told Secretary Mnuchin to back off on negotiations, I spent much of the night communicating with the White House and fellow colleagues on the need to still move forward.  Citing the Federal Reserve’s Chairman who said on Tuesday that the economy would be threatened with a recession without a stimulus package - we simply could not give up.   As we close the week, I am encouraged that we may reach an agreement that the president will support, which will provide assistance to the most needy dealing with this pandemic. The President tweeted this morning, “Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!” which you can see HERE. The PSC co-chairs, Tom Reed (R-NY) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) released a statement saying, “Just a few weeks back, the bipartisan framework that the Problem Solvers Caucus unveiled helped restart negotiations. Now that the negotiators are back at the table, let’s get a bipartisan deal across the finish line.” You can read their full statement HERE. You can read the latest CNN story on the negotiations HERE.

In fact, NPR has asked two of the PSC members to be on their national show Saturday at 5pm and I will join Tom Suozzi (D-NY) hosted by Michel Martin. Tom and I spent a lot of zoom hours the past month with our PSC working group to develop the proposal we were determined to inspire our respective leaders to embrace.  Waiting to try and put “humpty dumpy” back together again a month from now following the election is just way too long to try and help those that need it most. My offices have been flooded with calls from constituents wondering if there will be another round of stimulus checks. I’ve been meeting with a number of small businesses about their needs (I participated on a zoom call yesterday with the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) with perhaps thousands of Michigan small businesses across the state) and with restaurants, hotel and entertainment industry businesses wondering how they would survive. Again, I’ve zoomed with a number of local government officials who have additional COVID expenses and declining revenues and school superintendents who have additional expenses. There’s been a failure to adopt liability relief. The list of challenges is growing. Some airlines are losing a staggering $70M/day with billions lost already this year. There have been some 30K layoffs in the last week and the fingers are really being pointed at smaller regional airports that serve us in SW Michigan.  The list of impacts is long and serious -- and enough is enough. I do believe that our economy will recover but any delay in this next package will only further delay restoring the economy we all want.  I am encouraged that we may see this proposal emerge publicly with hopefully swift action by the House and Senate. 

Other news. In consultation with my school superintendents, I initiated a letter to the Dept. of Education asking that they grant additional student assessment waivers for this school year.  With so many schools doing distance learning, we want the information to be correct on the collection of data that otherwise may be skewed.  I asked fellow Michigan colleagues to join with me. 

I joined with a bipartisan group of fellow Great Lakes colleagues requesting the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee include the Brandon Road Lock and Dam construction to be authorized at 80% federal share in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).   You may remember last year when Senator Stabenow and I led our Michigan delegation to this Illinois site where we hope this construction will prevent the Asian Carp from moving further north and into Lake Michigan.  We hope to get this legislation to the president’s desk before the year is out.  The Corps of Engineers has been very supportive of our delegation’s efforts.  You can see that letter HERE.

I joined with dozens of colleagues on a letter requesting that the SBA and Treasury issue guidance for the PPP (Paycheck Protection money for small businesses) for forgiveness for loans under $150K.  The Administration submitted an interim final rule that allows for “simplified” forgiveness for loans, but it is viewed as still too burdensome for many.  As noted in the letter, estimates range from $2,000-$4,000 to comply.  The legislation I introduced several months ago (HR 7777) would provide simplified forgiveness for less than $150K and accounts for 87% of the more than 5M loans approved, which would save some $7B in compliance costs.  You can see that letter HERE.

ImageWednesday I was in Cass County meeting with local officials on an exciting new project.  In fact, I suggested that it was the largest economic jobs package for Cass County in recent memory.  Midwest Energy has proposed working with federal, state, local, and private firms on a new industrial park just east of Cassopolis on adjacent property.  CN Railroad has signed off on “breaking” their track and installing a spur that could truly add as many as 1,000 decent paying jobs in the near future.  Midwest Energy has been approached (vs the other way around) by 6-8 businesses that are looking to make decisions literally in the next couple months. I agreed to approach the EDA with my full support to try and make this a “launch.”  Both State Senator Kim LaSata and State Rep. Aaron Miller joined with me in the presentation.

I joined with colleagues all over the state in condemning the actions that threatened our Governor and her family. The cooperative work by our law enforcement at all levels was critical to prevent a true tragedy and praise goes to all that serve.  

Lost in the news this week was news of a mink farm here in west Michigan where hundreds of mink have died of COVID.  I am working with the Governor’s office and the Dept. of Agriculture to try and ensure the safety of the farm workers and the community as we learn more about the situation. Learn more HERE.

Lastly, I joined a bipartisan group of three dozen lawmakers requesting that the Administration combat PFAS chemicals in educational and childcare facilities across the country.  I will keep you posted on their response.

Have a safe weekend and I look forward to reporting back to you next week!

Fred Upton

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