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@MyKitchenTable - December 10, 2020

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Washington, December 10, 2020 | comments

@MyKitchenTable: Thursday, December 10, 2020

Dear Friend:

Billy Sunday once said, “Stopping at third adds no more to the score than striking out. It doesn't matter how well you start if you fail to finish.
We need to finish this year strong, getting another COVID deal done and a plan to fund the government.

Today was an important day in the fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic. An advisory FDA panel voted to recommend granting Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The panel reviewed the safety data and examined the evidence that Pfizer presented and deemed it was safe and effective enough to be cleared for emergency use.

The 21st Century Cures Act – Rep. Diana DeGette’s (D-CO) and my historic, bipartisan legislation that became law almost four years ago to the day – accelerated the development and discovery of medical cures and devices, helping to bring treatments, cures, and vaccines to market faster and more efficiently. Because of 21st Century Cures, we have a COVID-19 vaccine faster than ever thought to be possible. The U.S. will soon begin shipping millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine, possibly as soon as tonight.

And remember, the vaccine will be shipped from Pfizer’s location here in southwest Michigan. Boxes with 1,000 doses each will be packed up with 50 pounds of dry ice and delivered across the nation. CBS reported 25M doses being sent before the end of the year. Southwest Michigan is literally helping to save the world, and we take tremendous pride in all of those Michiganders who have been and will continue to serve such a critical role in distributing this life-saving vaccine around the country and throughout the world. You can read more about Pfizer’s vaccine and the role SW MI is playing to distribute it HERE.

Michigan’s state health department reported today that within two weeks of the vaccine being shipped to Michigan, all hospitals and health departments will get a shipment.

In the meantime, the coronavirus continues to surge across the country. More than 289K Americans have died, and we set a single day record on Wednesday of more than 3,000 deaths. It’s tragic, and we need to be mindful to wear our masks, wash our hands, and keep our distance not only for ourselves, but for the doctors, nurses, and hospital workers who are under tremendous stress and working under burdensome conditions.

The FDA did issue authorization on the first direct-to-consumer COVID-19 test. LabCorp’s Pixel COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit allows individuals to self-collect a nasal swab sample at home and then send that sample to get tested at LabCorp. You can purchase the test online or in a store without a prescription. You can read more HERE.

On Capitol Hill, our efforts to pass a bipartisan COVID-19 relief deal continue. I’m hopeful we can get something done but there are still a number of differences left to sort out. You’ll remember last week our bipartisan House Problem Solver's Caucus (PSC) released a plan that had the support of both House members and Senators, and this week we released an outline with more detail that you can see HERE. I participated in a Zoom call with the broader bipartisan, bicameral group as we discussed next steps. One of the major developments is that the White House signaled support for a deal that would provide $600 stimulus checks for all Americans in exchange for removing the unemployment benefits from the package, which you can read HERE.

The rubber hits the road next week. We hope to get a final COVID-19 relief deal done along with a longer-term package to fund the government (we passed a one-week extension of government funding yesterday). We should NOT be adjourning for the holidays without getting a deal done. Aid for small businesses (PPP), broadband, health care providers, educators, state/local funding (no money to bail out pension funds or past deficits...only itemized losses of tax revenue—sales and gas taxes—would qualify), and liability protections remain central components of the bipartisan package we are discussing.

One of the sticking points is over the liability protections, which will protect small businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits, which you can read in Roll Call HERE. I would note that without liability protections, insurance will not provide for attorneys to defend cases for small businesses. This needs to be part of the package or it would become a massive burden on small businesses that are already struggling to stay afloat. Education groups have joined those in the business community in support of this provision.

I’d also mention that the Detroit Chamber of Commerce sent a letter late Tuesday night urging the Congressional delegation to adopt another COVID-19 relief package. The chamber’s President and my friend, Sandy Baruah, wrote: “The situation is urgent and can’t wait until the new Congress and administration are seated in 2021” as businesses in Michigan and across the country suffer while COVID cases spike. You can read that story HERE.

I’ve heard from many families and small businesses across my district that they are going to need help – Congress has to deliver. Let’s get it done.

ImageLastly, our photo of the day is from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, where their K9’s Blek, Maxx, and Mika received donations of bullet and stab protective vests from the non-profit, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. We’re grateful for their service!

All the best,

Fred Upton

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If you would like to submit photos to share in these Kitchen Table updates of you social distancing, in your masks, working from home, and other photos of how you are keeping safe during the coronavirus pandemic, please click here.
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