Skip to Content
Home | news | Debbie's Blog

Debbie's Blog

Dingell Update: 07.17.2023

Dear Friend,

We’re busy in D.C. and the tone is bothering me, quite frankly. A lot of time in Committee, moving important legislation, but amendments in both Committee and on the floor are being designed to divide people, a trend I find disturbing. We got some important work done last week and I voted against some major bills because of their tone and divisive content. We reintroduced critical legislation to help develop clean vehicle technologies, spoke in support of our country’s public health officials and scientists, and celebrated milestones. Below are a few highlights.

Summer in Michigan

During the July 4th district work period, I tried my best to get to each community in the sixth district. Above are highlights from the many events you all had. It was such a fun two weeks and I can’t wait to be back in August.

Vehicle Innovation Act

I, along with Rep. Haley Stevens, reintroduced the Vehicle Innovation Act to promote investments in research and development of clean vehicle technologies to increase fuel efficiency, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, strengthen our supply chains, and support American auto manufacturers and suppliers. The Vehicle Innovation Act builds on the progress made by investing in successful research programs that will improve vehicle efficiency and develop clean vehicle technologies – saving consumers money at the gas pump and improving our energy security here at home. This legislation will support good-paying union jobs, ensure the cars and trucks of the future continue to be built here at home, and keep Michigan and our country at the forefront of innovation and technology.
Michigan is a global leader in automobile manufacturing and technological innovation, which is why it’s crucial that we support these industries to ensure we stay competitive. The American auto industry has made major advancements in fuel efficiency technologies in the last decade, and we must work together to ensure we continue to lead the world in vehicle innovation as we make the critical shift toward a clean economy.

COVID Select Subcommittee

On Tuesday, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic held another hearing that included baseless and frankly offensive allegations against our nation’s scientists and public health officials. We should be using this committee to investigate and search for the truth, not for political theater. We need the facts – the reckless, irresponsible, and inaccurate attacks need to stop.

Mental Health Meeting with Center for Racial and Disability Justice & National Coalition of Mental Health Recovery

On Wednesday, the Center for Racial and Disability Justice and the National Coalition of Mental Health Recovery visited to highlight their objectives and concerns. We discussed how I can continue to support mental health initiatives in D.C.  Real life stories about personal experiences puts a human face on policy development.  Mental health care is healthcare, and we must continue to expand access to care and coverage.

National Council on Disability ADA Anniversary Event

On Wednesday evening, Brian Fitzpatrick and I, co-chairs of the Congressional Bipartisan Disability Caucus, spoke at the National Council on Disability’s ADA Anniversary event. We are both very committed to this issue. We honored and reaffirmed our continued efforts to expand accessibility and equality for Americans with disabilities. Disability rights are civil rights, and we must continue to fight to protect all people living with disabilities in all areas of their lives.

CMS Letter

On Thursday, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and I led a bipartisan letter urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to open a National Coverage Determination to expand its coverage for power wheelchairs to include standing systems, which allow users to transition from seated to standing positions without the need to leave their wheelchairs. We sent this letter after CMS announced it would expand its mobility benefit to include coverage of seat elevation systems for power wheelchair users. This coverage is critical for individuals with disabilities who rely on seat elevation to transfer from one surface to another or improve one’s reach. However, this decision did not consider coverage of standing systems. 
The expansion of coverage for power wheelchairs to include standing systems is crucial to helping wheelchair users feel like they have support in obtaining truly accessible means of living. Wheelchair users face constant insurance denials and delays in obtaining equipment which can result in injuries and secondary health conditions. We urge CMS to press forward with the opening of an NCD on these systems.

SIREN Reintroduction
Last week, Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) and I introduced the bipartisan Supporting and Improving Rural EMS Needs (SIREN) Reauthorization Act to extend funding through fiscal year (FY) 2028 for SIREN Act grants to rural fire and EMS agencies nationwide. The funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) goes toward supporting rural EMS agencies in training and recruiting staff, conducting certification courses, and purchasing equipment.  
Emergency medical services agencies play a critical role in every community across our country. They respond to all kinds of crises – often risking their own safety – and work around the clock to keep Americans safe. EMS cannot fulfill their important mission without a strong workforce, which is why we introduced the SIREN Reauthorization Act. Rural communities have depended on the SIREN program to recruit and train a strong EMS workforce that can address the toughest of challenges, and our legislation will ensure EMS agencies have the support they need to safely respond to the emergencies they face.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund 
On Thursday, The Environmental Protection Agency announced the National Clean Investment Fund and the Clean Communities Investment Accelerator – two competitive grant programs that mark the official launch of the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). The GGRF, authored by myself and Senators Van Hollen and Markey and included within the Inflation Reduction Act, is modeled on their national climate bank legislation.
This notice of funding opportunity begins the application period for two grant competitions with $20 billion in available funding from the GGRF that will help leverage private capital from a diverse array of lenders to accelerate the deployment of clean energy, including in underserved communities that have been disproportionately harmed by climate change. More information on the new programs can be viewed here.
The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund will help us attack the climate crisis head on. The announcement of these remaining grant competitions is critical to swiftly distributing these investments to meaningful projects and communities in most urgent need, moving us closer to an equitable clean-energy economy. I look forward to continuing to work with the EPA, my colleagues in Congress, and all our partners to create good paying jobs, bring down energy costs, and reduce our carbon emissions with these investments.

On the Floor and in Committee

On Thursday, the House voted to pass the National Defense Authorization Act. I voted against this bill, as it included amendments designed to further an extreme political agenda, rather than support our national security. The NDAA is traditionally bipartisan, as supporting our servicemembers and their families is an issue we should all come together on. But after this year’s defense bill passed out of committee nearly unanimously, Republicans tacked on several divisive, partisan amendments that have no place in this legislation and attack some of the most vulnerable among us. It’s my hope that Congress will deliver an NDAA that we can pass with strong bipartisan support after the conference process that leaves out the partisanship and focuses on national security.  
In the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee we marked up important bills to ensure we’re better prepared to address future health threats after the lessons we learned during the coronavirus pandemic, and to address the drug shortage crisis we’re currently facing. We also marked up bills to allow foster youth to receive care within their communities, increase funding for childhood cancer research, and strengthen coordination between public health and law enforcement laboratories improve our response to the opioid crisis. 
And in the Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee, we marked up a bill to reauthorize the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), whose work ensures the United States continues to lead in technology and innovation. The NTIA is helping to expand broadband access across the country – just last month, Michigan learned it will receive over 1 billion dollars as part of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, implemented by NTIA, to provide high-speed, affordable broadband access and adoption to every community in the state. 

Other Events

As always on weekends, got around, saw many people rain and all - from farmers markets and coffees, to Sorority events highlighting mental health issues, the Manchester Chicken Broil (15,000 pounds of chicken), food truck rallies, veteran events, preparations for the Ann Arbor Art Festival, birthday parties and a memorial service. In other words, life. Weekends at home when Congress is in recharges me, keeps me focused and soothes my soul. 



Back to top