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@MyKitchenTable - November 24, 2020

@MyKitchenTable: Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Dear Friend:

Bill Keane said, “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift.  That’s why it’s called the present.” Despite such a difficult year for the world, on Thanksgiving day, we should take time out to reflect on the glass half-full.  

I am certain it will be a different Thanksgiving for everyone.  For sure, fewer family members around us for what many of us consider one of our favorite American holidays that truly is usually filled with family and friends.  Whether it be a walk in the woods, some touch football, turkey with stuffing and twice-baked potatoes, or lending a hand at the local food bank or shelter with the less fortunate, this year is different and for sure more isolating.  

Most painful of all, for far too many families, because of COVID-19, there will be an empty seat at the table. And every day now we learn of more cases with our friends and neighbors. There is certainly a tough road ahead.

Check out recommendations from the CDC on how to celebrate Thanksgiving safely this year HERE and HERE.

Last week the WSJ reported nearly 300 small business that received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds from the CARES package signed by President Trump last spring have filed for bankruptcy.  You can see that story HERE. The Treasury Dept is insisting that all the PPP funds distributed are taxable despite the clear intent otherwise when Congress approved the legislation.  As one can imagine, the fear is real among those businesses that have survived that their tax liability may in fact take them “under” too. 

Last week, a number of the Problem Solver’s Caucus (PSC) met with several senators—Republican and Democrat—trying to design a COVID aid package that could attain 60 votes in the Senate, a majority in the House, and a presidential signature.  With the Senate’s failure to pass any COVID legislation the last several months, it is definitely “all hands-on deck” time to try and fashion such a bill.  Waiting until 2021 will be too late for too many trying to survive this pandemic.  Pieces that we are considering including are funds for our health providers, testing (unbelievable that in some states folks have to wait 7-10 days for a result), schools, unemployment (not $600 bonus but help for the states that otherwise run out Dec. 31), broadband, monies for localities that can demonstrate real losses of revenue due to COVID (sales tax and gas tax losses as an example), and PPP for small business coupled with liability protections.   I am pushing for a legislative “fix” on the PPP taxation question as well.  Obviously, this is a “skinnier” package than what the PSC unveiled in September, but we were unable to force the issue when the Senate failed to move any legislation.  One of our Michigan Senators is now on the record in support of such which you can read in the Roll Call report HERE and follows discussions between Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer with President-Elect Biden last Friday where Biden also pushed to get something, anything, done.  The PSC is exploring different ways to force a vote before this Congress ends.

It appears that COVID cases here in west Michigan are improving but let’s face it, still devastating.   You can see that county wide date HERE from MLIVE.  Hearing firsthand from our health providers in recent days, I know the 5-alarm bells are sounding—not only for the facilities themselves but also for the staffing of those facilities.   It is so important that we do all we can to be socially distant and wear masks as preventative measures to do our part.  I would guess that all of us know folks that have died and suffered with COVID.  

We all saw the great news last week that the FDA will soon be determining what will likely be 3 different COVID vaccines with a projected 95% efficacy rate with 40 million doses manufactured before the end of the year.  The next step of course is the distribution of those doses to the American public.  HHS Secretary Azar outlined some of the procedures today before the press and reported HERE by Politico, indicating that the governors will have the final say.  Operation Warp Speed is planning to start shipping the first doses within 24 hours of the FDA authorization.  This is yet another reason why the Biden transition team needs to interact with the Trump administration to hopefully provide a seamless distribution void of disruptions.

Congress returns for votes next Monday and in addition to hopeful COVID legislation, the Continuing Resolution (CR) expires Dec. 11.   The House and Senate Appropriation’s Committees have been working on a yet “unseen” series of bills that would extend the CR, but without enactment, another government shutdown would occur.   Thankfully, no one is predicting such an impasse at this juncture but time is running short.  It is probably likely that a “short-term” CR of perhaps only a few days will surface by the end of next week to prevent such a shutdown.

ImageToday’s photo of the day is from a constituent in Edwardsburg. He took this photo from his backyard and wrote to me saying, “The big bright star is Sadr which is part of the constellation in Cygnus. It is surrounded by glowing red nebula gas.” TY for sharing. If you’d like to share a photo, please click HERE.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving walk....and please stay safe! There is much we can be thankful for....for sure. 

All the best,

Fred Upton

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