April 29, 2022
@MyKitchenTable: Friday April 29, 2022
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
UKRAINE LEND-LEASE ACT
This week the House passed the bipartisan Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act by a vote of 417 to 10 with my support after it unanimously passed in the Senate earlier this month. This act revives a World War II-era program that was first used to authorize the US to quickly resupply the Allies to defeat Nazi Germany in WWII and will now be used to rapidly supply Ukraine as the country fights a protracted war. This bill cuts bureaucratic red tape and will allow the Administration to speed up sending military equipment and humanitarian supplies. It is especially important as the war shifts to new territory in East Ukraine. To be clear, the act expedites, but does not remove, Congressional review and oversight. Such equipment will be limited to equipment and technology used to protect civilians and the broader national security concerns for the US. The U.N. has documented more than 3,000 civilian deaths in Ukraine, however they acknowledge the real number is significantly higher. The legislation also authorizes de facto gifting of military equipment upon the agreement that receiving countries repay the US in the future.
The House is now out of session until May 10 but the Senate will be in session next week. The Biden Administration has requested an additional $33 billion to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia and replenish depleted American arsenals. Debate will likely center on including a GOP amendment to sustain Title 42 which allows Border Patrol agents to quickly turn away migrants at the southern border. They also could add an amendment to advocate funding for COVID-19 vaccines and testing that otherwise will run out of money. Both amendments will require 60 votes to proceed. Without the approvals, it will be difficult to pass the Ukraine aid request.
LETTER TO SEC. OF ENERGY JENNIFER GRANHOLM
This week, I sent yet another letter to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm with my colleague Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) urging the Secretary to prioritize America’s nuclear energy sector. Nuclear energy is a part of an “all of the above” energy plan that includes renewable and traditional energy sources. I believe America must pursue energy independence, with every tool in the toolbox and under the Biden Administration many of these “tools,” such as the Keystone XL pipeline, have collected dust. The Russian invasion of Ukraine shows the risk of weak energy security and independence as our domestic nuclear fuel infrastructure has severely declined over the past decade. At the same time, reliance on inexpensive, Russian-sourced fuels for over 20% of America’s nuclear fuel supply creates strategic vulnerabilities. Nuclear energy generates nearly 20% of America’s energy supply. In our letter we highlighted the Atomic Energy Act and the Department of Energy (DOE) Organization Act that allow Sec. Granholm the authority to spearhead many of efforts to secure our nuclear energy infrastructure. It’s imperative that the US step up and supply our allies like Poland who were cut off entirely from Russian gas this week. You can read more about the letter as well as the full text HERE.
I also met with Member of the Ukrainian Parliament Andrii Shupanyn on Thursday (right to left:Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ); me; Mr. Shupanyn; Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers). Mr. Shupanyn is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Gas Supply Policy. As the top Republican on the energy Subcommittee here, we had much to discuss in regards to energy domestically and exporting to our allies to offset the Russian cutoff. Yesterday, Germany announced it would stop buying Russian oil which should prompt the EU to unanimously wean themselves off Russian energy, sending yet another signal that will isolate their economy. You can read more HERE in today’s WSJ.
ENERGY SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING
On Thursday, I delivered opening remarks at the Energy Subcommittee hearing. Secretary Granholm attended the hearing and I urged her and fellow US energy leaders alike to jumpstart domestic energy production as soon as possible. American energy production has fallen while gasoline prices continue to reach record highs. I reminded Secretary Granholm that it is her duty to maximize American energy production in order for us to maintain our energy independence and dominance at the global market and offer a helping hand to our allies in these critical times. I suggested the DOE under Secretary Granholm should consider issuing waivers to expedite the permit process for liquid natural gas (LNG) and to send the signal that the US is a reliable and consistent supplier of natural gas. You can read and watch my full remarks HERE.
US ECONOMY SHRINKS
Reports on the US’s last economic quarter were published this week and the GDP continues to shrink in the first quarter of 2022 by 1.4 percent. This decline in GDP was unexpected as economists across the country predicted the GDP would actually grow about 1 percent for the first quarter. Unfortunately, the economy continues to lag as Americans struggle with historically high inflation and the war in Ukraine poses global uncertainty. Many factors have pushed us closer to recession, a notable factor being our country’s trade deficit for goods which can be linked to employers struggling to find workers in this labor market. Sad to say, this latest decline in GDP has inched us closer to another recession.
LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION WITH JIM HARBAUGH
On Thursday, I met with U of M Football Head Coach Jim Harbaugh to discuss the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a nonprofit created by Congress in 1974 to ensure fair trials and equal access to legal services by funding civil legal aid for those who otherwise could not afford it. I have long advocated for equal access to justice and am the Co-Chair of the House Legal Aid Caucus. This program serves many here in Michigan and my great friend Harold Schuitmaker has been a wonderful advocate for this cause as well. You can read more about LSC HERE.
BENTON HARBOR YOUTH OF THE YEAR WINS STATE
Donavon Frazier of Benton Harbor was named Michigan Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America this weekend. Donavon will go on to represent both Benton Harbor and our state at the national level this upcoming weekend. The Boys and Girls Club has over 4,000 clubs nationally with several of them right here in southwest Michigan and I am proud to support such a worthy organization. You can read more about Donavon HERE.
SUPPORTING OUR NONPROFITS
On Tuesday, Rep. Betty McCollum and I introduced the Nonprofit Sector Strength and Partnership Act to strengthen the bridge between nonprofits and the federal government. This act seeks to strengthen the nonprofit sector as a whole and make the relationship between the two entities successful by sharing critical data to better assist nonprofits. Several local nonprofits including the Berrien Community Foundation, Community Action of Allegan County and the Council of Michigan Foundations strongly support this legislation. You can read more about this act HERE.
DRUG TAKE BACK DAY
This Saturday is National Drug Take Back Day. On Saturday, thousands of Americans will anonymously dispose of unneeded or unused medications at more than 4,000 local drop-off locations across the country run by the DEA. These sites will run from 10AM to 2PM. Safely disposing of drugs and prescriptions is an effective way to prevent drug overdoses which have been on the rise as of late. Additionally, disposing of medications at a designated drop-off site rather than flushing them or throwing them away keeps our lakes and rivers from being contaminated. You can find a drop-off location near you HERE.
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