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Debbie's Blog

An update

Washington, May 9, 2019


We’re finally seeing signs of spring, and with summer right around the corner, it’s going to be a busy next few months in Washington. This note is to provide a quick update on some of our work:
  1. Continuing to protect Michigan’s economy and jobs: Working to grow our economy and support Michigan jobs are among my top priorities.

    • A big part of that is ensuring American workers can compete on a level playing field.Michigan is the heart and soul of the American auto industry, and for too long bad trade deals like NAFTA have devastated our region – hollowing out our manufacturing base and costing tens of thousands of jobs. Last year, working with the autos and UAW, we were leaders indefeating the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now I'm very concerned that the President is talking about reopening these negotiations, when that’s not what he promised.
    • The currentNAFTA renegotiationsare critical and any new agreement must put working families first. At the beginning of this Congress, we outlined ablueprintfor NAFTA negotiations that would create jobs and raise wages. In addition, I have introduced legislation to requiregreater transparencyin trade talks to ensure working men and women have a voice in the agreements being negotiated and that there are no backroom deals being cut.
    • If the U.S. is to remain competitive, I have been clear we must all work together to develop a responsible infrastructure plan that fixes our roads, bridges, broadband and aging water systems. The President did put forward a proposal this year, but I believe it fallsfar shortof the investments we need and puts impossible burdens on state and local governments. We must continue working together toward a plan that will make real improvements to our crumbling roads and bridges, modernize our broadband and energy infrastructure, and update our drinking water systems and high-speed rail. Read morehere.
  2. Keeping Michigan at the forefront of auto innovation: Last fall, the House of Representativesunanimously approved the SELF DRIVE Act, bipartisan legislation I developed with my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee to establish a federal framework for the safe development and deployment of automated vehicles. Automated vehicles have the potential to transform mobility in this country – reducing congestion, providing greater independence for seniors and those with disabilities, and helping to prevent the 35,000 deaths on our roadways each year. It’s important that we ensure the U.S. is staying at the forefront of innovation and technology while at the same time always putting consumer safety first.

    • We want to ensure Michigan stays in the driver’s seat of this effort, and we took an important step in that direction last month with theofficial grand opening of the world-class American Center for Mobility at Willow Run. This state-of-the-art proving ground will help ensure the safe validation of automated vehicles, which will transform mobility for decades to come. It is a testament to what we can accomplish when we all work together.
  3. Ensuring workers receive the pensions they’ve earned: One of the first problems I learned more about when I came to Congress was the pension crisis facing this nation. Millions of workers in Michigan and across the country stand to see massive cuts to their pensions if Congress does not act to put these funds back on solid footing. While we’ve won some smallvictoriesalong the way, we need a long-term solution. We’ve introducedlegislationto ensure retirees receive the pensions they were promised. It is also an honor and serious responsibility to be named to the Joint Select Committee on Multiemployer Pensions to help tackle this crisis. I’m committed to working with everybody to find a solution we can all agree on that protects working men and women. You can watch my opening statement from our first meetinghere.
  4. Protecting our air, water and environment:In Michigan, we know the importance of protecting our natural resources. There are many important issues in this area.

    • Our delegation – Democrats and Republicans – are committed to ensuring full funding for theGreat Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). This is the single most important program for keeping the Great Lakes clean and fighting invasive species like Asian carp, yet the President’s 2019 budget proposal virtually eliminates its funding. This is unacceptable. The Great Lakes delegation worked together last year to restore funding for this vital program and will do so again.
    • Dearborn Industrial Generation (DIG)recently retracted its request for an expansion permit in Dearborn because members of the community made their voices heard. Michiganders should have reliable, affordable energy, but the need for clean air is equally important. Read morehere.
    • We are also committed to continuing to work with Trenton Mayor Kyle Stack on redeveloping theMcLouth Steelsite and ensuring there is no pollution. It won’t be easy, but I will not stop working to transform this facility from an eyesore to an economic asset for the region.
    • The Ann Arbor community has been seeking better solutions for cleanup of theGelman Dioxane Plumefor years, and I have long pushed forstricter cleanup standards. I’m pleased that the EPA was successfully urged to assign a designated toxicologist to the plume and that the agency is conducting a preliminary assessment to determine whether it is eligible for cleanup as a federal Superfund site. This will take time and is not a silver bullet, but it is vital to explore all options available to the community. We also received welcome news recently when the Michigan Supreme Court rejected Gelman Sciences’ appeal seeking relief from its obligation to clean up this contamination. This ruling will help ensure a more just and comprehensive solution.
    • We will soon consider legislation on the House floor that I introduced in the Energy and Commerce Committee that willprotect the Great Lakes from nuclear waste. This measure will send a clear message to our friends and neighbors in Canada that the U.S. Congress is united against storing nuclear waste in or near the Great Lakes, a message I havedelivered to Prime Minister Trudeau personally
    • Toxic algal blooms threaten the Great Lakesand our drinking water as well. My colleague from Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur and I have led the charge to urge the Environmental Protection Agency to be more aggressive in combating this issue in Lake Erie anddesignating the waters impaired.
    • The Michigan delegation continues to work together to ensure the integrity of underwater pipelines. Rep. Dave Trott and I introducedlegislationto require a comprehensive study ofLine 5under the straits of Mackinac. If the pipeline is found to be unsafe, it should be shut down.
    • The most fundamental responsibility of the EPA is to protect public health and the environment, and I am deeply concerned that the agency recentlyrolled back longstanding toxic air pollution protections. My colleague Rep. Don Beyer and I recentlyled a groupof 87 Members of Congress in urging EPA to reverse this dangerous decision. You can watch my questioning of Administrator Scott Pruitt during a recent Energy and Commerce Committee hearinghere, and see my conversation with MSNBC’s David Gura about dangerous regulatory rollbacks at EPAhere.
    • While we must protect the air we breathe and the water we drink, we also must protect our state’s fish and wildlife, which support jobs, the recreation economy and our outdoor heritage. At a time when one-third of all wildlife species in the United States are at risk of extinction, including the monarch butterfly and lake trout, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and I are working to pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which takes a proactive approach to conserve at-risk species before they land on the endangered species list. Read more about this important bipartisan legislationhere.
    • To commemorate Earth Day this year, I also teamed up with Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and Senator Ed Markey to introduce the Climate Education Act to promote climate literacy. Learn morehere.
  5. Finding bipartisan solutions to keep our schools and communities safe: Following the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, we’ve been meeting witheveryone– law enforcement, prosecutors, students, educators, mental health experts, the ACLU and other stakeholders - to find solutions that will ensure ourstudents can go to schools and feel safe. One thing is certain – we cannot afford to go to our corners and have the same politically-charged conversation that gets us nowhere. My colleague Rep. Fred Upton and I were recently named co-chairs of the Problem Solvers CaucusBipartisan Working Group on Response to Parkland Shooting. We’re working with our colleagues to find common ground on measures that improve and strengthen the background check system, expand Red Flag laws, and close loopholes that allow domestic abusers and stalkers access to guns. We owe it to our kids to act.
  6. Ensuring quality, affordable health care: I believe every person in this country has the right to quality, affordable health care. Without question, too many people are continuing to experience problems – for some, premiums are escalating and deductibles have gotten higher. Since coming to Congress, I’ve been clear that the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but instead of trying to repeal the law, we should be working together to fix it.

    • That meansstabilizing the marketplace. As part of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in Congress, we’re working to advance the Bipartisan Market Stabilization and Innovation Act to combat escalating premiums and stabilize the insurance marketplace.
    • We also need totackle the high cost of prescription drugs. One way to lower costs is allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices in Medicare Part D. The price of insulin has more than doubled in the last couple of years and seniors should not be making a decision between whether they’re buying groceries or taking their medicine. I cannot tell you how many seniors are telling me they’re cutting their pill in half to get by and that half pill doesn’t help them. Read more about our plan to lower prescription drug priceshere.
  7. Finding solutions to the opioid epidemic:The opioid epidemic is touching families across this country, and it is critical that we work together to address this crisis while making sure we do not stigmatize those with very real medical needs. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is working to advance a bipartisan package of opioid legislation this month, which include theACE Research Act, legislation I introduced with Rep. Fred Upton to spur urgently needed research on new non-addictive pain medication, and my bills with Rep. Tim Walberg –Jessie’s Law, which will help ensure doctors have access to a consenting patient’s prior history of addiction in order to make fully informed care and treatment decisions, and theSafe Disposal of Unused Medication Act.

    • You can see why this issue is so important to me in this story inThe Hill. We have also hosted and participated in manytown halls,assembliesandroundtablesin the district. It is my hope that sharing my family's experiences will help raise awareness and make sure people understand that families across this country, from all backgrounds, are suffering.
  8. Combatting domestic violence, sexual assault and supporting survivors: Domestic violence and sexual assaults impacts people of every age, race, gender, socioeconomic status and political persuasion, and I believe we can all work together to find new ways to collaborate, support survivors and end violence and assault.

    • We have started theBipartisan Working Group to End Domestic Violence, which is co-chaired by myself, Rep. Gwen Moore and Rep. Ryan Costello. Our monthly meetings bring together Members of Congress and the foremost domestic violence organizations to shine a light on policy solutions we should be considering, including the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act this year.
    • As we work to find solutions, support is also building for theZero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act(H.R. 3207), bipartisan legislation I introduced with Rep. Dan Donovan to close the “boyfriend loophole” that currently allows convicted domestic abusers and stalkers to obtain firearms. The bill has nearly 100 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle.
    • Campus sexual assault remains a real and pressing issue. Last week, I joined the University of Michigan Injury Prevention Center, Dr. Mark Schlissel and First Lady Sue Snyder for a Summit on the Prevention of Campus Assault. You can read more about that important conversationhere. You can also read myrecent piecein The Hill about a demographic of sexual assault survivors that remains largely under the radar: students with disabilities.
  9. Keeping our promises to our veterans: The men and women who served our country in uniform deserve our love, support and respect every day of the year.

    • This means ensuring our veterans have access to the timely, quality health care they deserve and that as a community, we serve them as well as they served us. Rep. Walberg and I co-hosted aVeterans Resource Fairin Washtenaw County last week to provide veterans and their family members with access to resources earned through their service to our country. Nearly 20 veteran employment specialists, Veterans Affairs counselors, and veterans service organizations participated.
    • We also received great news recently when the Detroit VA Medical Center was selected as apriority site for a new U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Fisher House location. This is in addition to the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, which was approved for a Fisher House in 2016. Fisher House provides a home away from home for the families of veterans who are receiving care at our VA hospitals so they can stay together during the treatment process and help ease the road to recovery. This was a true community effort and we'll continue working to make it a reality so that the families of our heroes have a safe and welcoming place to stay.
  10. Working toward comprehensive immigration reform: Our immigration system is badly broken. We must protect our national security, while also keeping our doors open to those who come this country seeking a better life for themselves and their families. This issue has hit home for us recently when Jorge Garcia of Lincoln Park was deported to Mexico after living in the U.S. for 30 years and never receiving so much as a traffic ticket. His wife Cindy, a UAW worker, was my guest for thePresident’s State of the Union address. We are committed to working toward comprehensive immigration reform and a long-term solution to DACA to bring relief to the 800,000 young people who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own.
  11. Protecting user privacy:Protecting privacy is critical. Last month, the Energy and Commerce CommitteequestionedFacebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg about data collection, privacy and Facebook’s business practices. You can see my Q&A with Mr. Zuckerberghere.

    • While it is concerning that Cambridge Analytica obtained the personal data from more than 87 million Facebook users, we know they are far from the only company engaging in these practices and this problem extends beyond Facebook. As an example, I recentlywroteto Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai urging him to investigate whether consumers’ viewing or other personal data was also sold to Cambridge Analytica. It is unacceptable that he chose topass the buckinstead of investigating. We’ll keep looking for answers to how many people had their data compromised and will hold bad actors accountable.
  12. Combatting abusive and invasive robocalls: I recently chaired a hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee on how we can combat abusive and invasive robocall practices, which are a great annoyance for American families, particularly our seniors. Read more about my draft legislation, The CEASE Robocalls Act, and other legislative proposals to stop Americans from being harassed by unwanted callshere.
  13. Saving Net Neutrality: It is unacceptable that the FCC gutted Net Neutrality, which protects fairness, openness and competition online. We’re working topass legislationto protect Net Neutrality to keep the internet free and open for everyone.

These are just a few issues that we’re working on right now that matter to our communities. It is an honor to represent you, and hearing from you – your thoughts, concerns, ideas and priorities, as well as suggestions for policy, improves how I can do my job. You can share your thoughts or contact me anytime about issues that are important to you through mywebsite. You can also receive real-time updates by following me onFacebook,TwitterandInstagram. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Debbie Dingell
Member of Congress

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