Dingell Update: 09.22.2023
Washington, September 22, 2023
This week's report is a little late, or a little early depending upon how you look at it. It’s been intense and busy, with two subjects all encompassing: UAW negotiations and critical votes to keep the government running. Current funding runs out September 30th, a mere 8 days away. Republicans have very divided strategies, with members who want to cause total chaos. It is quite simply not a way to run the government.
On the UAW front, I have many friends involved on both sides. These are tough, rough, emotional times. The industry is at a crossroads and we are facing a number of critical issues at the same time. But in the midst of intensity, regular life goes on as well. Lots of hearings, markups, and meetings to report on.
Here is a summary of the last ten days.
It would be irresponsible to shut down the government. And if it does shut down, responsibility will lie squarely with a small group of Republicans who refuse to do their jobs. A shutdown will create chaos and have crushing impacts on many of our most critical federal agencies. We must come together to reach a responsible proposal to keep the government open. This is not how we should be running our country. I am clueless about my schedule for the next couple of weeks and committed to making every effort to not allow a small group of Republican members to create total chaos.
UAW Contract Negotiations
All eyes in Michigan are on the auto companies and the UAW. These are the most important negotiations I have witnessed in my lifetime, and the future of the domestic auto industry is at stake. We must manufacture electric vehicles here in America to stay at the forefront of innovation and technology and compete in the global marketplace, and the workers are critical to that.
There are a lot of important issues on the table. The auto workers were the ones who gave up their cost-of-living adjustment when this industry was in trouble in 2008 and 2009, and they want to see their wages keep up with inflation. Now wages are 10% lower in real terms than they were a decade ago. Workers should be able to support their families.
It's not fair for someone to be a temporary worker for 8-10 years. It’s not right for someone to do the same job on the same line but get paid less because they are a different tier. Everybody in our country benefits when our workers are paid well. Auto workers deserve a decent wage and benefits, and need to be assured that as the industry undergoes transition, their livelihoods are safe, and they won’t be left behind.
At the same time, we have to ensure we have competitive auto companies who are competing in the global marketplace. This is the moment that the rubber hits the road, and we have to figure this out because it determines whether or not we have a healthy auto industry.
Strategic National Stockpile
This week, I joined my colleagues on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic for a tour of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and met with officials from the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response to learn more about the SNS and its role in addressing threats to public health. As we continue to identify ways to better prepare for future health threats, strengthening the SNS and ensuring it is adequately stocked should be a top priority. The SNS stores a wide range of supplies, medicines, and countermeasures for lifesaving care, and we must ensure the SNS is prepared to meet its important mission.
Heartland Press Conference
The Heartland Caucus, which I chair, held a press conference to elevate the priorities for this year’s Farm Bill and the importance of the Farm Bill to Americans in our districts, and share stories and perspectives from our constituents.
The Farm Bill is an opportunity to tackle urgent issues including addressing hunger, supporting rural communities, strengthening labor rights, and combating the climate crisis. SNAP is a lifeline for more than 40 million Americans, including children, the elderly, and our most vulnerable neighbors. I am committed to fighting for robust funding for SNAP and other key nutrition programs like the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program in this year’s Farm Bill and will oppose any effort to undermine it.
Over the August District Work Period, I had the opportunity to tour several farms in my district, to learn more about their businesses, concerns, needs, and how I can help deliver for them in this Farm Bill. I learned a lot, from how crops and livestock are raised and harvested, crop management, the importance of soil health and conservation practices, year-round farming, the challenges farmers face, the technologies used to assist them, and the role farms play in environmental sustainability and biodiversity. I am committed to getting this done in a way that supports our farms, our families, and our environment.
My Friend, Little Amal
Tuesday, I helped welcome Little Amal to Washington, DC. Little Amal is the 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee child at the heart of The Walk. She has become a global symbol of human rights, especially those of refugees. Since July 2021, Amal has traveled over 6,000 miles to 15 countries, and been welcomed by more than a million people on the street, including hundreds of artists and civil society and faith leaders, as well as by tens of millions online.
I believe deeply that welcoming and supporting refugees and opening our arms to people who are fleeing violence and persecution around the world is an important American value. Throughout our history, our nation has granted safe haven to families seeking refuge from terror and unrest. And doing so makes us stronger. We will continue to work together to make our country a safer and more welcoming place for families like Amal’s. Amal will travel to Michigan this weekend so I cannot wait to welcome her to my hometown.
Head Start Rally
Wednesday, I joined the National Head Start Association to rally for meaningful early childhood education policies. We know that the earlier a child starts their education, the more likely they are to achieve their dreams and grow into their vast potential. But, this isn’t possible without equitable access to education, which is what Head Start provides in communities across this country. All children, regardless of background, deserve to have the chance at a better future. To do this, we must make robust investments in programs like Head Start, which has a proven record of success, while ensuring Head Start teachers and administrators who make that success possible are paid living wages.
House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security
The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security held an educational hearing about the state of the video marketplace. With the proliferation of streaming, there have never been more options for parents looking for programming for their children. Unfortunately, while there is a lot of positive, educational content online, one can also find dangerous rabbit holes, disturbing imagery, programming with little educational value, and excessive commercials in online spaces that children frequent. It is our job to do everything in our power to keep our vulnerable children safe online, but in order for parents to be successful at doing so, we must provide families with quality, affordable, and accessible broadband.
House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources
The House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing on the USGS Critical Minerals List. Critical minerals are essential for our transition to the clean energy economy and electric vehicle manufacturing. Michigan is home to a major hub for electric vehicle manufacturing, and I am very focused on ensuring the United States has the capacity to reach our full potential when it comes to the build-out of electric vehicles – for both jobs and for climate.
Of course, we can’t discuss the domestic development, manufacturing, and deployment of EVs without discussing our auto workers. We’re in the middle of one of the biggest transitions in mobility we’ve seen since the automobile was invented and we have to make sure that we’ve got the foundation to support our workers and domestic supply chain. We cannot leave Americans, especially Michiganders, out to dry.
Stabilize Medicaid and CHIP Coverage Act Introduction
Rep. Frank Pallone and I introduced the Stabilize Medicaid and CHIP Coverage Act to provide 12-months of continuous coverage for individuals receiving health care through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Currently, millions of Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries are at risk of losing health coverage each year due to short-term changes in income as well as burdensome paperwork or administrative requirements. These bureaucratic burdens result in significant churn of individuals on and off Medicaid and CHIP and serve as a barrier to effective coordination of care and preventative health care.
No one should lose access to health care because of bureaucratic delays. If we have learned anything from the recent unwinding of Medicaid continuous coverage, it’s that we need to do more to prevent people from losing coverage and slipping through the cracks due to paperwork and red tape. The Stabilize Medicaid and CHIP Coverage Act will guarantee 12-months of continuous coverage for the most vulnerable Americans, reducing Medicaid and CHIP enrollment churn and improving access to consistent healthcare that results in better health outcomes.
House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing regarding Legislative Proposals to Prevent and Respond to Generic Drug Shortages.
We have a serious drug shortage in this country that’s leaving thousands of patients in Michigan and across the nation in distress. I’ve heard from many of them who can’t access drugs like lidocaine and steroids, let alone life-saving antibiotics and cancer drugs. No one should have to panic and fight to find the medications their doctors know are necessary for their treatment. Congress must work to bring home our pharmaceutical supply chains, incentivize the production of generics, find ways to ensure we are understanding why shortages are happening, get earlier alerts, help with broader distribution, and many other issues.
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held another hearing on Medicare coverage for home infusion services and mobility-related equipment. Over the last several years, we’ve taken significant steps in Congress to expand access to health care beyond a traditional doctor’s office or hospital setting. As we’re having this conversation, it’s important to acknowledge that some existing coverage policies aren’t reaching their full potential and also deserve our attention. Two areas where we still have significant room for improvement is Medicare’s coverage for home infusion services for patients who need access to IV therapies but don’t otherwise need to be in a medical facility, and the lack of coverage for those who require mobility-related equipment to have the best quality of life. I am committed to continuing to work to ensure that Medicare accounts for these two groups.
House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce
This week, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce held a hearing about solutions to unleash innovation, boost economic resilience, and beat china. Last Congress, Democrats enacted significant legislation to strengthen our competitive edge on the world stage. But we know there is more work to do, and this begins with strengthening our supply chains here at home with meaningful and comprehensive bipartisan legislation.
We must address supply chain vulnerabilities before they become full-blown crises. Ideally, we would have done so before crippling shortages of personal protective equipment impeded our ability to respond to the worst public health crisis in a century. Before the federal government had to invest tens of billions of dollars to rebuild our nation’s capacity to produce semiconductors – critical computer chips instrumental to the production of automobiles, consumer electronics, and defense systems. Before other nations, including some adversarial nations, came to dominate the production of large-capacity electric batteries and threaten our automobile industry’s innovative and manufacturing edge.
While the federal government has a duty to protect supply chains instrumental to our national security and economic vitality, I believe that government intervention should be the option of last resort. The private sector should proactively identify and address supply chain risk, long before government assistance is needed.
The Supply CHAINS Act, legislation that I’m proud to co-lead and which enjoys the support of over 160 stakeholders, includes my provision establishing voluntary standards and practices that the private sector can adopt to better identify and address supply chain risks before government intervention is necessary.
Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act
The full house considered legislation that would have a major impact on autos. This bill is just another Republican attack on the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to keep Americans safe from dangerous air pollution, and it will have widespread harmful effects on the future of the automotive industry. This bill prevents the EPA from granting a waiver of federal preemption under the Clean Air Act for any California vehicle emissions standard that quote, “directly or indirectly limit[s] the sale or use of” vehicles with internal combustion engine. On top of this, it directs the EPA to revoke waivers that have already been granted that do not comply with this vague metric. This would immediately put existing waivers dating back a decade in jeopardy, destabilizing and creating uncertainty in the industry. The UAW opposed it, as did multiple environmental and consumer groups.
Endangered Species Act 50th Anniversary
Last week, I spoke at two different events to discuss my work to protect the Endangered Species Act. First, I spoke with the Defenders of Wildlife at their Endangered Species Act 50th Anniversary Symposium. The ESA has been an unparalleled conservation tool that has helped protect America’s wildlife, including iconic species that we all know and love like the bald eagle, grizzly bear, and Florida manatee. It has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the species it covers. John Dingell wrote the original bill 50 years ago. In 2013, he warned that partisan bickering and political agendas will return us to the times when we were destroying our great natural treasures. Unfortunately, his words still ring true 10 years later. We saw the last administration gut the protections in the Endangered Species Act. Fortunately, those rollbacks have been reversed, but we can’t take our environmental protections for granted and must continue to work to strengthen these safeguards. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ESA this year, it is critical we continue doing all we can to protect America’s vulnerable species from decline. I was honored to receive an award last week from the Endangered Species Coalition for my dedication to protecting the ESA. I also joined the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation to introduce the Dingell-Young award, which was created to honor individuals who exemplify dedication to and leadership in conservation and sportsmanship. It’s named after my husband, John Dingell, and his friend and colleague, Don Young. Both men were committed to protecting the environment, our country’s natural resources, and wildlife throughout their lifetimes. They spent so much time together hunting, fishing and working on conservation, and I hope their passion and love for these causes will continue to live on through and through this award.
9/30 PACT Act VA Health Care Open Enrollment Deadline
September 30th is the last day for veterans who deployed to a combat zone, never enrolled in VA health care, and left the military between Sept. 11, 2001, and Oct. 1, 2013, to enroll directly in VA health care through the PACT Act. This special enrollment period—open until 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 30—gives Veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other combat zones an opportunity to enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for disability compensation benefits. Please spread the word throughout your community so we can help as many of our veterans as possible.
Downriver Town Hall
On September 25th, I will be joining State Senator Darrin Camilleri and State Rep. Jaime Churches for a Downriver town hall. Join us from 6-7 PM at the Trenton Westfield Activities Center, 2700 Westfield Rd. Bring your thoughts, questions, and concerts, and we hope to see you there.
MPSC Town Hall
On October 5th, I am holding a town hall with the Michigan Public Service Commission at the Washtenaw Community College Towsley Auditorium at 6 PM. Join us to share your questions and concerns about DTE and utility reliability.
Throughout the past 10 days, I have been very present at events in both DC and Michigan’s 6th. From the North American International Auto Show, meeting with the Canadian ambassador, We the People on the Water, to going on cable news with Face the Nation. Flat Rock River Fest, Saline Octoberfest, Pointe Mouillee, and the best news during this time of uncertainty- another Michigan win.
As always, I want to hear from you. What do you want me to know? What are you thinking about? Please contact me with any questions, ideas, and concerns. Share them with me at this link, or by calling one of my offices in Ann Arbor, Woodhaven, or DC:
Ann Arbor: (734) 481-1100
Woodhaven: (313) 278-2936
Washington, DC: (202) 225-4071