@MyKitchenTable: Monday, November 30, 2020
I was elected by my GOP colleagues to represent my region on the Steering Committee as we select our GOP Ranking Members (top Republican on each of the Standing Committees and later to “slot” the new Members on the Committees. Newt Gingrich scrapped the old seniority system years ago and since then, aspiring Members compete for these positions and are re-evaluated every two years with a 6-year term limit. I was Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee for 6 years). Those presentations begin Tuesday and based on our recommendations will be ratified by the full GOP Conference on Thursday. There are 35 votes on the Steering Committee and thus the race to a majority (18) began some time ago.
As I write this tonight, a lot is going on. A favorite quote I have used frequently is, “I would rather try and fail rather than fail without trying.” As we all see the statistics around the country and feel the anguish by so many Americans whether they be business owners, workers, families, and our cherished health care workers at every level, we know that this pandemic did not end last Easter and will not be over by Christmas or New Years. In the meantime, we as a Congress need to provide a lifeline to our nation until we can conquer this monster with a vaccine and proper testing. And, because of divided government, we all know the only equation that can work is one that is bipartisan.
As you have followed the course of events since last spring, you should remember that the first number of COVID versions were all signed into law by the president and passed by overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate. Trillions of dollars for small businesses with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, monies for states, schools, hospitals and health care workers, PPE (Personal Protection Equipment), monies to develop new testing devices and incentives to develop the vaccines under Operation Warp Speed, monies for the airlines, and the list goes on to try and save the economy. But then we hit a major speed bump as the pandemic lasted much longer than anyone wanted it. Partisan politics took over and everything was stalled...for months.
The bipartisan Problem Solver’s Caucus (PSC) stepped up over Labor Day and offered a path forward that could break the gridlock. Unfortunately, the votes were not there in the Senate to proceed and the November election was soon upon us.
Now, as we try and extend the Continuing Resolution (CR) to prevent another government shutdown which expires Dec. 11, the PSC is at it again. And as I write this Monday night, I am hoping that our group will indeed embrace yet another proposal that passes the bipartisan litmus test that can provide the needed assistance to carry us into 2021 with real help for our small businesses coupled with liability relief, health care institutions and their hero workers, unemployed, airline and travel and hospitality industry, local units of government (no pension bailouts), educators, and better broadband deployment. Our PSC rules are that 75% of us on both sides of the aisle have to agree for us to move forward, and I am encouraged that we will get there with our discussions tonight with our group and a number of Senators who share our view.
Stay tuned!! No time to waste for so many that our hurting and looking for help.
Michigan’s COVID-19 numbers were inching in the right direction but now appear to be back on the wrong track. The seven-day average positivity rate is now at 13%, up from 12.8% late last week. You can read more in MLIVE HERE. Michigan’s total number of COVID-19 cases is north of 375K, and we are approaching 10K COVID-19 deaths, a truly tragic number. In fact, the 1,696 confirmed coronavirus deaths reported in Michigan since Nov. 1 made it the state’s deadliest month in the pandemic since April, and you can see more in MLIVE HERE.
Here in SW MI, the situation is grim. In Allegan, Berrien, Van Buren, and Cass counties, the positivity rate is above 16%. It is at 11% in Kalamazoo and 12% in St. Joe County, both slightly below the statewide averages. My team and I remain in constant contact with public health leaders, hospital staff, first responders, and community leaders as it is “all hands on deck” trying to get this outbreak under control. Their message is all the same - we need everyone to do their part. Wear your mask, avoid social gatherings, and be safe! Hospitals in our area are still pushing capacity with COVID cases and staffing may become an issue down the road if we don’t flatten the curve. Folks should not put off seeing a doctor or going to the hospital if they think they need to. It is safe to go and hospital-acquired infections are low.
There is good-news on the vaccine front. Moderna announced this morning they will apply today to the U.S. FDA for authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine. Their vaccine is reportedly 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19 and 100% effective at preventing severe cases of the disease, which you can read more about HERE. Moderna is the second company to apply for the EUA after Pfizer applied for theirs on November 20. The FDA is scheduled to meet in December to review their applications.
And lastly, today’s photo of the day is from a constituent in Buchanan who shared this photo with us from a windy day in St. Joe last week. TY for sharing. If you’d like to share a photo of the day, please click HERE.
I hope you had a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.
All the best,