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Debbie's Blog

Dingell Update: 10.25.2023

Dear friend,

How do you describe the last couple of weeks? It is almost impossible. The world feels upside down and communities I love, and have been a part of for many years, feel threatened and scared. Worse, after decades of building trust between them, they are now experiencing great rawness and harm. The House of Representatives has been in chaos without a speaker for over three weeks, and the business of the Congress is not getting done. We are all hoping that we finally elect a Speaker today. The next budget expires in less than 30 days, and it would be irresponsible for us to shut down the government, period, but think of the impact on so many devoted government employees around the holidays. The UAW strike has been going on for more than a month, and I spend as much time as I can with the workers, listening, supporting, bringing food and supplies, and just being there. My mother was in intensive care for the past week. She’s stable and doing better, but it once again reinforced the broken healthcare system for so many, and the challenges of home care and long-term care. She has great doctors and caregivers, and I have the support of many, but it’s still hard. It just makes me want to continue to work hard on fighting for so many of these issues. 
The death of several friends, some very sudden, and one I talked to every night the week before she died, has rattled me. Florine Mark was a girlfriend for forty years, a small group of us were some of the first working women in Southeast Michigan, and she mentored so many of us. She taught us to be tough, but her mantra was love, love, love. She also always said, “celebrate the important moments.” And the murder of Sam Woll, President of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, was horrific. She was someone I knew because of her strong work on interfaith efforts. In the days before she died, as she always did, she was reaching out, trying to bring people together in hopes of preventing the divide we are seeing from becoming bigger or unrepairable. Too many funerals as this season turns. Yes, it’s life, but I don’t want to accept all its bitter moments, and I’m trying to keep up the good fight.
There are also good moments, and we have almost become afraid to celebrate them. Michigan’s football team remains undefeated and these games have been incredible. But somehow, the annual rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State wasn’t the same. The Governor and I only gently ribbed each other. Rituals and traditions matter, and it is fall- pumpkins and Halloween time. I have walked around and visited several community events and watched children in their costumes, unaware of all the problems so many of us feel, which cannot help but make you smile. My Chief of Staff had their second baby, and everyone is doing well. The longest serving member of my staff who had been with me since day one, my Legislative Director who was fantastic, left my office for a great job offer. I miss him terribly and have a huge hole in the team, but we all wish him much luck.

In other words, life continues. Many challenges, much to worry about, but the daily ups and downs of life remain, and we take each day as it comes, cry a lot lately, laugh a little, work hard, and keep trying to make a difference.

Now to more details about what is happening. 
Conflict in Israel and Gaza
All of us remain rattled, worried, and concerned about the terrorist attack by Hamas. The significant loss of life of Israelis and Palestinians, as well as over 200 hostages still being held, and the war that this has brought upon Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank is horrific. I remain deeply concerned about the lives and safety of innocent civilians in Gaza and beyond as the violence in the Middle East continues. Two shipments of humanitarian aid have been allowed into Gaza, but this is not nearly enough. The humanitarian crisis is worsening daily, and the United States has a responsibility to ensure Israel upholds international law and protects civilian lives. I am horrified about the hundreds of Palestinian civilians who have been killed attempting to flee the violence and in safe havens like hospitals— which are caught in the crossfire and lacking enough medical supplies to care for civilians. Such indiscriminate violence against patients, doctors, nurses, and medicine only hurts the vulnerable.

I joined more than 100 of my colleagues in signing a letter to President Biden expressing the fundamental importance efforts to return hostages home, prevent escalation of the conflict, ensure that humanitarian needs-including food water, and medicine- of civilians in Gaza are met, and ensure the safety of civilians and noncombatants, including safe passage to temporary safe zones in southern Gaza.

I am very concerned about the days and months ahead. I fear the war will continue to escalate, and I cannot overstate the severe impact an inflamed conflict will have. The United States and the global community must play a constructive role in responding to this war and enable a steady supply of humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians seeking refuge from the violence. 

We must address these longstanding issues that can’t be ignored. I remain committed to working with my colleagues on a path toward lasting peace, but in the short term, we must focus on how we are going to end this violence, ensure the immediate release of hostages, uphold our humanitarian commitments, protect innocent Palestinian and Israeli lives, and prevent this from escalating into a horrific war that will result in massive deaths and casualties.

As important to me is potential violence in my local communities. I have met with young people, seniors, organizations, associations, spoken to synagogues and mosques, and the emotion and feelings are palpable and raw. My goal is to keep everyone safe, listen, understand, and in the long-term, reach lasting peace.
Speaker Race
It has been more than three weeks since we’ve had a Speaker. Republicans have devolved into chaos, preventing us from doing the work we were elected to do. The budget expires in less than 30 days and so much needs to be done before then. Democrats remain ready to work in a bipartisan way to get back to doing the business of the American people. 
Medicare Open Enrollment and Affordable Care Marketplace
Medicare Open Enrollment is here, and I urge all those who are on Medicare to engage, do your homework, and make sure you are getting the best plans/options that are available to you. Every year, Medicare’s open enrollment period is October 15 - December 7.

Medicare health and drug plans can change each year—things like cost, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in network. October 15 to December 7 is when all people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year to better meet their needs.

How do you know if you need to change your plan? People on a Medicare health or prescription drug plan should always review the materials their plans send them, like the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC). If their plans are changing, they should make sure their plans will still meet their needs for the following year. If they’re satisfied, their current plans will meet their needs for next year, and their plan is still being offered, they don’t need to do anything.

For information on Medicare plans, click here or call 1-800-MEDICARE.

I urge you to take this time to compare plans. This is an important opportunity.
Beginning today, consumers can preview their healthcare coverage options and see detailed information about 2024 health insurance plans ahead of the ACA Marketplace Open Enrollment Period. The Open Enrollment Period on begins on November 1st and will continue through January 15th.
Oversight and Accountability Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Hearing
Last week, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic held a hearing titled “Strengthening Biosafety and Biosecurity Standards: Protecting Against Future Pandemics.” The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that many of the systems we had in place across the globe were ill-equipped to deal with a threat of this scale. To prevent future outbreaks and ensure that we do not experience a similar crisis, we must work in a constructive manner to build on the Biden Administration’s progress in prioritizing and reasserting our global health leadership.
James Foley Walk/Run
On Saturday, October 14, the parents of Paul Whelan joined his friends at the James Foley Walk/Run in Manchester. James Wright Foley was an American journalist and video reporter who died in captivity in Syria in August 2014. The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation was formed to publicly advocate for the freedom of all Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad. Rosemary and Ed, Paul’s parents, participate and organize their loved ones to support Paul and to continue to raise awareness. Rosemary Whelan shared that participation in the Manchester Run/Walk does not involve donations or anything of the sort, but rather a thought for Jim’s memory and for Paul who is still detained in the gulag in Russia, “just for awareness (and hope).”

I love Rosemary and Ed and promise them it is always forefront on our minds to bring Paul home. This family is a very special family and this matters to me greatly. All of Manchester supports them strongly.
Americans for the Arts
I was honored to join Americans for the Arts to talk about the importance of the creative economy to this country. The arts bring in $15.5 billion and create 100,000 jobs in Michigan alone. Artists' immense contributions to our communities and local economies is worth fighting for and investing in. I was introduced by Deb Polich, Washtenaw County’s very own who chairs the Michigan Arts Alliance.
51 Years of the Clean Water Act
We celebrated the 51st anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Clean water is a basic human right that every man, woman, and child deserves across every generation. It's this belief that inspired John Dingell, one of the architects of the Clean Water Act, and his colleagues to craft our nation’s landmark clean water law 51 years ago. For 51 years, the Clean Water Act has restored water sources, rid pollutants and dangerous toxins, protected waterways from future contamination, and held polluters accountable. We must protect the legislation that has preserved and protected some of America's greatest natural resources while recommitting to holding polluters responsible, upgrading our clean water infrastructure, and ensuring its resilience in the face of climate change.
House Trade Working Group Briefing on Critical Minerals

I spoke at the House Trade Working Group Briefing on critical minerals and discussed the importance of addressing labor, human rights, and environmental issues related to the critical minerals necessary to fuel clean energy technologies and how we can work to ensure we keep these jobs in America.
United Auto Workers

The UAW strike continues and when I’m home, I visit workers on the picket lines to show my continued support for UAW workers in Michigan and across the country. We cannot forget that the auto industry remains the backbone of the U.S. economy – every job on the assembly line creates 10 more across the country – and auto workers deserve to be able to support their families. 
Junk Fees
The FTC proposed a rule to ban junk fees once and for all. Junk fees are hidden and bogus fees that can harm consumers and undercut honest businesses. I have been working to get rid of junk fees in Congress, specifically citing the harm they cause for families with outrageous medical bills that are exacerbated by junk fees. Too many of us know first-hand the shock and confusion you feel when you walk into the pharmacy or a doctor’s office and receive a bill that’s ten times higher than you expected. And often times, these bills are so high because of junk fees – like charging “facility fees” for health care provided outside of hospitals, like at a doctor’s office. I’m thankful the Biden Administration has made cracking down on junk fees a priority. 
Student Loans
The Biden Administration announced they would cancel another $9 billion in student loans. For so many Americans, crushing student loans are a constant source of stress. This is an important step to make higher education more accessible and ensure every American has the resources to reach their goals.
EPA Visit with Administrator Regan for Visit to Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority
EPA Administrator Michael Regan visited the Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America tour highlighting environmental and economic investments in communities across the country. We joined community leaders and local officials for a visit to learn more about planned upgrades to our wastewater treatment facilities made possible by historic federal investments in our water infrastructure.
We're more committed than ever to working together at every level of government to secure federal funding for clean and safe water for our community, from getting the lead out of pipes, to addressing PFAS, making sure families can afford water, and more.
Downriver Economic Summit
We hosted the Downriver Economic Summit this month to discuss and strategize about focusing on Downriver’s economic development as we continue to attract new visitors, residents, and opportunities while protecting our most wonderful natural resources. 
I am thankful to everyone who participated. Your voice is always important to me and I encourage you to continue to contact my office with any comments, questions, and concerns. The Downriver Community Conference will consider next steps.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As a co-chair of the Congressional Cancer Prevention Caucus, this month is very important to me. 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. In 2023, an estimated 297,790 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99%. Early detection saves lives. Because of work we have done, deaths have decreased by 43% from 1989 to 2020. 

In June, I along with Reps. Fitzpatrick, Wasserman Schultz, and Allred reintroduced bipartisan legislation to increase access to breast cancer diagnostic tests. The Access to Breast Cancer Diagnosis Act would make breast cancer diagnostic tests more affordable and accessible to women by eliminating copays and additional out-of-pocket expenses by requiring insurance companies to cover diagnostic and supplemental breast examinations without cost-sharing.

This is a very important issue to me and I promise to keep fighting in Congress to ensure we are using all resources possible to eradicate this disease altogether. 
I kicked off the annual Komen Run in Detroit and this weekend will participate in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Ann Arbor Walk. Advocacy and education saves lives.
Friends of Cancer Research Award
It was an honor to receive the Marlene A. Malek Public Service Award from the Friends of Cancer Research. Cancer was one of the first issues John and I took on as a couple. We worked hard with others to improve research and treatment, and to support people diagnosed and their loved ones. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go. As co-chair of the Cancer Prevention Caucus this will always be one of my highest priorities in Congress and I look forward to working with wonderful organizations such as Friends of Cancer to support those diagnosed with cancer, survivors, their families, researchers, and medical professionals.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This month, we also recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Supporting victims of domestic violence is deeply personal to me. When I was a child, I remember the fear, the seeking help and no one responding because you didn’t acknowledge the problem or accept the reality of what happened behind closed doors. Much has changed since those days. We have broken down stigmas and more survivors are finding the courage to speak honestly, escape abusive situations and seek the support they need. Protecting and expanding critical domestic violence response and prevention programs has been a priority for me since coming to Congress.
This weekend I joined the annual Safehouse Purple Run, an important event that brings together advocates, law enforcement, and the Washtenaw County community to raise awareness for and support SafeHouse, which has been a lifeline for so many families. 
Unfortunately, earlier this year, the Fifth Circuit Court struck down a critical federal law, enacted in the original Violence Against Women Act of 1994, to keep guns out of the hands of individuals subject to a protection order. The Supreme Court will take up the case next month. This summer, I also filed an amicus brief alongside Representative Fitzpatrick and Senator Amy Klobuchar in the pending Supreme Court case asserting that the longstanding VAWA provision in question is consistent with the Second Amendment and has guided decades of regulation.
We still have plenty of work to do, and we must continue working together to address the root causes of domestic violence and ensure that survivors have the support they need to heal physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Economic Update
The latest jobs report indicates that 336,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in September, while unemployment held steady at 3.8%. Our economy has gained 13.9 million jobs under President Biden’s leadership. This is the fastest job growth in history. These numbers serve as a reminder to Americans that job growth continues to be on the upswing thanks to the President’s economic recovery plan. 
Everbrook Academy Picture Book
The Students as Everbrook Academy in Ann Arbor gifted me a picture book with wonderful drawings and illustrations. It brought a smile to my face and many of my colleagues as I shared on the House floor.
Bumpy Cake
Anyone who has lived in Michigan knows that one of the best treats we have is the Sanders Bumpy Cake. I was jolted yesterday when I found out that we are going to have a shortage of it, and we may not be able to get it for a while.  I love Sanders. They make the best product. Their hot fudge is the best. Sanders Bumpy Cake has been a Detroit favorite for over a century. But the iconic chocolate sweet appears to be in danger for the time being because its’ home bakery, the century old, iconic Awrey Bakery, closed on Sept. 30. Sanders is looking for a new partner and I pray they find one. Traditions matter and Bumpy Cake is a Michigan staple, and something you head for at celebrations, or in my case, when the world overwhelms you. It’s the best comfort food around. Sanders, please protect our iconic dessert.
Photos of the Week

With hope, we will get a Speaker this week and get on with the peoples’ business. There is much to do. I will be home when we aren’t in session, spending time in as many communities as possible, fall and Halloween bring traditions, realness, and the happiness of children. I will continue farmers market visits, meetings, and round tables based on the House schedule. Here are some photos from last weekend that do manage to soothe the soul. Happy Halloween and may there not be too many ghosts and spirits around. D2
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

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