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Debbie's Blog

Dingell Update: 07.25.2023

Dear Friend,

Another busy week. One week left before the August recess. Honestly, it’s pretty discouraging as we consider bills in both the Committee and on the floor, where some want to fight culture wars rather than getting anything done. The display of nude pictures hit a new low, and I wish we could just work together, without drama and division, and focus on policy issues Americans care about and need us to act on. We did get some bipartisan work done: sent a letter to the Biden Administration on the national security and competitive risks of Chinese AVs operating on our streets and introduced legislation to keep our firefighters safe from toxic forever chemicals. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs visited and held a town hall with employees and veterans at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center. Weekends always keep me grounded, and this one was busy. Visited auto plants and steel plants and met with auto workers and steel workers. Enjoyed the Telegraph Cruise at UAW Region 1A, visited with veterans at the VetFair at Washtenaw Community College, and joined the Rosies, who I love, at the annual Rosie Craft Fair. Attended the Ann Arbor Art Fair, the Michigan Beer Festival, farmer markets, Taste Fests, concerts, festivals, fun days, and many more full weekends in Michigan, and good weather brought people out. Below are just a few of the highlights.

Restricting Chinese AVs on our streets

On Tuesday, I along with colleagues on both sides of the aisle led a bipartisan letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urging the Administration to investigate and limit the operations of autonomous vehicles made by Chinese companies in the United States, as a matter of national security and competitiveness.

China already has strong restrictions on United States autonomous vehicle companies operating or testing in China. We are concerned that we are ceding a serious strategic advantage by not barring Chinese companies from operating in the United States in return. I am also deeply concerned about the data collection that Chinese AV’s receive while operating in America. The technology used by AVs, LiDAR, RADAR, cameras, AI, and other advanced sensors and semiconductors, can all be used to collect data on the American people and infrastructure that could be shared back to China and ultimately to the Chinese Communist Party. The massive amount of data being collected by these cars could give the CCP an unprecedented vantage point into the United States.
We urge the Administration to seriously consider the national security and competitive risks of allowing Chinese AV companies to operate in the U.S. We cannot cede our global leadership and the future of mobility to an adversarial foreign nation.

Endangered Species Act at 50
On Tuesday, the Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the Endangered Species Act. The ESA is deeply important to me and is something my late husband, John Dingell, took to heart. He was an avid outdoorsman, angler, and hunter with a deep appreciation of our country’s natural resources, and strengthening our nation’s conservation and environmental policies was a core value.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the ESA, a milestone we should be celebrating. Instead, some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are seeking to undermine its safeguards, which have saved 99 percent of the species it protects from extinction. Our beloved national symbol, the bald eagle, was near extinction in the mid-1900s. But the bald eagle has recovered and is thriving thanks to the Endangered Species Act. John Dingell warned us ten years ago that we must work across the aisle to protect the statutes of this piece of legislation for the good of our country’s wildlife and endangered species. I will keep pushing to ensure species like the Monarch Butterfly are protected for future generations. We must defend and strengthen the protections of the ESA, and work to recover our precious wildlife before it’s too late.

Meeting with Miss Universe Lebanon and Lebanon TPS Letter
Yasmina Zaytoun, Miss Universe Lebanon, spoke with me this week about her concerns regarding the crises in Lebanon, especially lack of affordable medication. Many of our friends and neighbors in Michigan have family and loved ones in Lebanon, so it was important to share stories and concerns, and hear her thoughts and experiences. I reaffirmed to her my committment to supporting our Lebanese friends. 

On Friday, Reps. Tlaib, Lofgren and I led 35 of our colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging for the designation of Lebanon for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to protect Lebanese nationals in the United States and permit those affected by the ongoing crises in Lebanon to find safe haven in our country. Lebanon is suffering from a multifaceted crisis involving social instability, a stalled government, soaring food insecurity, hyperinflation, and increased regional tensions heightening the threat of armed conflict. These myriad issues present a direct threat to the safe return of Lebanese nationals to their country of origin. Given the extraordinary, overlapping challenges in the country, Lebanon clearly qualifies for TPS designation. The United States has long offered refuge to those seeking shelter from catastrophe. The crisis in Lebanon provides an opportunity to honor this commitment by supporting Lebanese nationals in their time of need.

Protecting Firefighters from PFAS
Thursday, I introduced the bipartisan Protecting Firefighters and Advancing State-of-the-Art Alternatives Act (PFAS Alternatives Act), to support the development of next-generation PFAS-free turnout gear for firefighters and better protect firefighters from the dangers of their work. Studies have recently shown that all three layers of the gear that our firefighters wear every day to safely protect Americans are contaminated with PFAS chemicals. These chemicals are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic, and are linked to harmful human health effects, including reproductive and developmental harms, weakened immune systems, and cancer – the leading cause of firefighter death.
Firefighters’ jobs are already dangerous enough without worrying about the long-term health risks of being exposed to dangerous PFAS in their turnout gear. The PFAS Alternatives Act will remove this unnecessary occupational hazard and help protect firefighters as they work every day to protect us.

John D. Dingell VA Medical Center Town Hall

Friday afternoon, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough came to Detroit for a veterans town hall at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center. Secretary McDonough met with veterans and employees at as he promised he would when we first discussed issues at the John Dingell VA years ago. The town hall came at the conclusion of the Inspector General’s review of the Detroit VA leadership, which I requested after hearing concerns from many VA patients, employees, and families. I thank Secretary McDonough for taking these concerns seriously, and for joining us for this important conversation. He committed to me that when the investigation was finished, he would participate in an open conversation with the community, provide updates, and help answer questions related to leadership, and that is what he did.
My job is to ensure that all the veterans at the John Dingell VA are getting the very best care. I want to reassure all our veterans and their families that I am personally engaged on this, have been from the beginning, and will continue to be.

Photos of the Week

I keep singing in my head, “I’m coming home. I’ve done my time.” While I love my job, several weeks of just being home, getting out and around, seeing and visiting with many different people, spending time with the communities I represent, enjoying the weather, the water, and life will be a needed break from D.C. I will still send my weekly letters, and let me know if I should be anywhere or if you have something on your mind. I hope our paths cross in the next few weeks. 


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