September 16, 2022
@MyKitchenTable: Friday September 16, 2022
“Being a politician is a poor profession. Being a public servant is a noble one.” – That quote from a former US president!
This week saw the House return to session from the Labor Day break. I was busy with events across the district but was able to spend some time with my family including two grandkids. I started the week with an interview on statewide radio affiliates (including WSJM and WKZO) Michael Patrick Shiels, which you can listen to HERE.
September will indeed be a very busy month with only two weeks before the end of Fiscal Year ‘22 on September 30. None of the 13 appropriation spending bills have reached the President (the House has passed most of them, but the Senate has not passed any), so to avert a government shutdown, we will have to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) that continues funding all agencies and programs at the same level enacted in FY ‘22. That CR will likely expire December 15, which punts all spending decisions past the November 8 election.
Most election pundits believe the House elections will flip the House from a Democrat to Republican majority on January 3. Should that happen, it is likely that Republicans will insist the CR expire next year to allow the new majority to make the final spending decisions for FY ‘23. Both sides have leverage as agreement still requires 60 votes in the Senate and very few want a government shutdown.
So, what are the considerations going forward? The administration has requested funds for military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine be added to the CR. They also have requested funds to continue free COVID vaccines and boosters and for monkeypox. In addition, when the partisan “Inflation Reduction Act” passed the Congress last month, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) hinged his support on critical “permitting reform” legislation that would expedite energy exploration and delivery that most progressive Democrats oppose (you can read the Roll Call story HERE). Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) promised Manchin it would be included in the CR, but the needed 60 votes may be lacking. Thus, the next two weeks will be intense as we get closer to a government shutdown, which I still predict will not happen … Stay tuned.
PROBLEM SOLVER’S CAUCUS
The Problem Solver’s Caucus (PSC) met this week with Apple CEO Tim Cook. He was very grateful for the enactment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Chips bill, on which our group led the way. As a Business Round Table (BRT) board member, he made the point Apple has invested $5 billion to move manufacturing from overseas back to the US, and the Chips bill was critical as Apple looks to accelerate development here rather than China. He also referenced the need for comprehensive immigration reform given the worker shortage in virtually every sector. They have a significant number of workers, who came to the US under DACA (came as children and have lived here virtually all their lives) and are now threatened with expulsion.
I have been involved in the leadership of the bipartisan PSC and No Labels organizations. As I wrap up my congressional career, I am fully aware of the frustrations Americans across the country have with politics. I often have said that at least in our corner of the state, folks could care less if one has an “R” or a “D” next to their name, they want us to work together on behalf of the country. I have used a quote quite a bit over the years, “We have too many Republicans and too many Democrats in the Congress and not enough US Congressmen.” I point to a piece by one of my favorite columnists, David Brooks of the New York Times, who writes about the beginning of a movement to change national politics. You can read his column HERE from September 1. More details to come.
BIPARTISAN REFORMS TO ELECTORAL COUNT ACT OF 1887
Earlier this week, I introduced election reform legislation with PSC Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) that would reform electoral vote counting in the Congress. This legislation mirrors the bipartisan Senate proposal, and its passage will help prevent the uncertainty of having a state’s electoral count being undermined by false electors or other political shenanigans. It could well be considered on the House floor this coming week. You can read more HERE and HERE.
INFLATION CONTINUES TO CLIMB
On Tuesday, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose to 8.3% overall as inflation continued to climb in August. Folks were feeling the effects of increased inflation long before these numbers were published though. Groceries shot up 13.5% over the last month, which certainly did not go unnoticed in households. That 13.5% translates to an extra $450 a month to put food on the table for working families across the country. On the very same day these numbers came out, the White House held a celebration for the passage of its so-called “Inflation Reduction Act,” which obviously is not working.
INDECK ENERGY CENTER
Last week, I toured the recently completed Indeck Energy Center in Niles, Michigan. The Indeck plant was years in the making and began running at full capacity this past July. The facility generates 1,000 megawatts of energy, enough to power over 600,000 homes and small businesses across Southwest Michigan! The plant is a combined-cycle power plant that utilizes natural gas to produce energy. Additionally, the plant only takes up about 10 acres of the 373-acre site, much of which was sat unused due to contamination prior to being acquired by Indeck. Indeck and its partner companies invested millions of dollars into cleaning up this previously unusable site, bringing jobs and more opportunities for the people of Southwest Michigan. You can watch parts of my visit and a brief interview HERE.
ARPA-H & AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
This week, I met with constituents who were in DC to advocate on behalf of American Cancer Society. We discussed increased funding for cancer research & prevention programs with at least $49 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including $7.7 billion for cancer research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), AND supporting $462.6 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) cancer programs, including $225 million for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. We share the goal of increasing funding to cure cancer. You’ve heard me talk many times about our Cures legislation and this week President Biden gave heartfelt remarks on this topic as well which you can read HERE.
BIPARTISAN WORK WITH THE WHITE HOUSE
The possibility of the House flipping to a Republican majority has been swirling around Capitol Hill. If this happens, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) becomes Speaker, many have wondered what it will mean for the Biden administration. Like Democrats now, Republicans are likely to have a slim majority of only a handful of seats, which means the White House will have to negotiate with Republicans in Congress. The relationship between the House GOP and the administration is best described as cold, and likely to get chillier as many of my colleagues on both sides willing to engage in bipartisanship will not return in the next Congress. You can read more about what our political landscape may look like come January HERE.
SWINE FLU IN SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN
This week, the CDC confirmed the first human case of H1N2, also known as swine flu, in the state. We all remember well when H1N1 swept through Michigan in 2009 and the panic that ensued. At the moment, the virus, a new variant known as H1N2, has been confirmed to have infected only one person who reportedly has not passed it on to anyone else. That said, I recommend taking a look at these guidelines provided by the CDC if you plan on attending any of the county fairs across Michigan in the next couple months.
BOOSTER TARGETING OMICRON
COVID boosters in Michigan are becoming available now. I was vaccinated and boosted and thus far have had only a mild case last spring. I intend to get my booster next week. Tragically, reluctance around the COVID vaccine has exposed reluctance for other vaccines, with New York declaring a public emergency over low polio vaccination rates. Groups like Rotary International have worked hard to wipe this awful disease off the face of the planet, but it appears it might make a comeback. You can read more about it HERE.
I also would note that flu season is upon us. The seasonal flu and COVID-19 can be a deadly combination, so I urge you to get both this new booster and your annual flu shot.
DETROIT AUTO SHOW
Lastly, I was asked to join my Michigan colleagues and President Biden to see the Detroit Auto Show. I have long been a member of the bipartisan House Auto Caucus, including co-chairing it with Senator Gary Peters, and shepherded the auto rescue plan through the House back in 2008. Without it, the lights would have turned off for good in our state on the manufacturing side. The plan was supported by Presidents Bush, Obama, and candidate John McCain, and the loans were paid back. It was an impressive auto show with a real focus on Electric Vehicles (EVs). The industry knows that the price, range, and time to charge are three very critical components to convince the public on EVs. Last month, I went to Cass County to see the construction of a new auto battery recycling facility in what is the largest economic development project in Cass and for which I helped secure a federal grant.
At the show, I spent time with GM CEO Mary Barra, who focused on passage of the Chips Act and its impact on auto production in Michigan. The Bipartisan Infrastructure bill also will help ensure we strengthen the electric grid to better support the advancement of electric vehicles. We had two cabinet secretaries with us, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. We discussed the negotiations with the rail unions, and I am pleased a deal was reached later in the day averting catastrophic impacts to the nation’s supply chain.
This weekend, I will be attending the memorial service for Amo Houghton, a former colleague from New York. He was the first Fortune 500 CEO ever elected to Congress and a dear friend. He served as co-Chair of the bipartisan Faith and Politics Institute with our fellow colleague and late Civil Rights champion John Lewis. Amo and John led the annual march to Selma commemoration that continues to this day. I led my first Congressional delegation (CODEL) to Iraq in 2003 during the war against Saddam Hussein and Amo was one of the members. Our CODEL was the first to stay overnight in Baghdad in the Green Zone when our C-130 broke down and was unable to get out. When we left the next night, we brought the remains of three Marines back in American-flag draped coffins. A Marine himself from WWII, he always put the country first, and I would recommend you read some of the many tributes to his legacy. He too, was not afraid to “cross” his party and lived the quote at the top of this KT all his days. RIP Amo Houghton – good and faithful servant.
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