June 24, 2022
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@MyKitcheriday June 24, 2022
“We are a nation hungry for more joy. Because we are starving from a lack of gratitude.” – Brene Brown, delivered by retiring Kalamazoo Regional Education Superintendent Dave Campbell this week!
I continue to hear from you all encouraging me to support commonsense gun safety measures. As many of you may know, I voted for, and the House passed, the Protecting Our Kids Act by a vote of 223 to 204 on June 8, 2022. Such reforms included raising the age to 21 to purchase semi-automatic rifles, banning bump stocks and ghost guns (meaning all firearms must have a serial number on them), and establishing federal red-flag laws coupled with mental health funding. It’s important to note that these bills will honor our constitutional right to bear arms and due process while making our schools and communities safer.
The Senate then approved a package of major gun reform legislation in wake of the recent, horrible school massacres in Uvalde, Texas, and at Oxford in Oakland County on a bipartisan vote of 65 to 33 last night. A recent , among others such as , show strong support among Americans to pass some commonsense gun reform. I supported this package like I did the Protecting Our Kids Act. This package was carefully negotiated to protect private rights with due process as well as public safety. You can read the Politico story on the final bill which then passed the House this afternoon 234 to 193.
Since my last Kitchen Table, I have lost two very good friends and mentors that were major players in Berrien County for decades. Many knew both Carol Stockman and Merlin Hanson as they were both heavily involved in the Southwest Michigan community. Carol was the long-term Berrien County Treasurer. You can read my full statement on her passing and an excellent piece on her legacy .
Merlin passed away on Tuesday afternoon. He was an incredibly driven friend who truly made Southwest Michigan a better place as a leading industrialist and most generous philanthropist. He was not afraid to think outside the box and encouraged others to do the same. They both were among the first people to encourage me to run for office in 1985, and I am proud to have counted them as dear friends. You can read more about Merlin’s legacy .
On Wednesday, I voted for, and the House passed H.R. 5585, the ARPA-H Act by a vote of 336 to 85. I spoke in support of this program on the House floor, which you can watch . This legislation will bring game-changing cures and treatments to reality. The successes can be phenomenal – truly answered prayers. This bill also builds off the work we did with 21st Century Cures, which was signed into law in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama and has been credited with creating the COVID-19 vaccine in record time. ARPA-H will bring the US to the forefront of medical innovation and allow us to explore cures and treatments without restraint. You can read more about this ground-breaking agency .
This week, Michigan Public Schools released their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. Not surprisingly, schools across the state have been forced to reallocate funds from different areas of their budgets to keep bus systems running in light of high gas prices. School busses play a vital role in making sure our kids have access to education, and often there is not any alternative in rural areas. That said, reallocating and adjusting existing budgets is not a sustainable way to go about this – especially if prices continue to climb like they are now. Rather, the solution is simple: unleash American energy. You can read more about these budget changes and read an excellent Wall Street Journal piece by Karl Rove .
On that note, President Biden backed a national gas tax holiday on Wednesday. The proposed holiday would take 18 cents off each gallon of gas and 24 cents off every gallon of diesel. While it’s true that gas prices are out of control, a three-month gas tax holiday will have severe consequences for funding across the country. In fact, even House Democratic leadership is hesitant to hop on the bandwagon. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, questioned whether or not Americans would actually see these price cuts or if it’d become another consumer marketing tactic. Speaker Pelosi also did not immediately embrace the President’s request for congressional action. Most people see this for what it is – a gimmick. As I’ve said many times, there are things the Administration can do TODAY to bring prices down, e.g. open new leases for energy exploration.
On Wednesday, I spoke at a hearing of the Energy Subcommittee, of which I am the lead Republican, on securing critical minerals. Contrary to the messaging from the White House and Department of Energy (DOE), high gas prices will not encourage Americans to buy more expensive electric vehicles. Additionally, residential electricity prices are increasing at a record pace, and China has consolidated its control over more than 90% of critical minerals used in batteries and solar panels around the world.
In this hearing the subcommittee discussed my bill, H.R. 1599, the Securing America’s Critical Minerals Supply Act. H.R. 1599 will build on the DOE’s energy security mission, by providing tools for the DOE to secure a reliable domestic supply of critical energy resources, including critical minerals. We cannot continue to trade away the energy security America has achieved through the domestic production of coal, oil and natural gas for Chinese batteries and solar panels. It is a national security imperative that we produce the energy we need right here at home. It’s that simple. CONGRESSIONAL ART COMPETITION
On Tuesday, I met with this year’s Congressional Art Competition (CAC) winner Fiona Doyle here in the Capitol. While there were many submissions, Fiona’s artwork stood out to me as it captured both the beauty nature has to offer as well as her exceptional talent. Every year, my office participates in the CAC in coordination with the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA). The CAC in the Sixth District was held in conjunction with the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts High School Area Show. You can read more about and view Fiona’s painting .
After more than 100 years in Battle Creek, Kellogg’s will split into three distinct companies: Global Snacking Co.; North America Cereal Co.; and Plant Co. The cereal and plant companies are expected to stay headquartered in Battle Creek, and Global Snacking Co., which will produce well-known snacks like Pringles and Eggo waffles, will have headquarters in Chicago and a campus in Battle Creek. Frankly, I can’t believe the high-tax state of Illinois could attract a company like Kellogg’s.
On Wednesday, I accepted the National Park Trust Bruce F. Vento Award. This award is given to a public servant for their commitment to the environment, and their service, skill and innovation in support of our public lands and waters. It’s an honor to receive this award for my work protecting our parks and waterways. As a child, I was blessed to grow up on the shores of Lake Michigan, and I am happy to still call the rolling sands and lakeshore of Southwest Michigan home. And I’ll be the first former Congressman from Southwest Michigan to remain there following my service. You can see the wonderful video that was prepared , and thank you to Regis Vogt for the National Park Trust for capturing the evening.
I’ve long supported making our parks accessible through efforts like the Great Americans Outdoors Act as well as protecting our Great Lakes by supporting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. You can read more about this award .
Last Sunday I joined Dana Bash on CNN’s State of the Union to discuss the ongoing January 6th hearings as well as the possibility of a bipartisan gun reform package coming through the Senate. You can watch my interview .
On a final note, I welcomed David Axelrod to Plank’s on the Water for an episode of his podcast, the Axe Files, on Monday that you can listen to . I also joined Michael Patrick Shiels this morning on Michigan’s Big show for a bit, which you can listen to .