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Debbie's Blog

Dingell Update: 11.03.2023

Dear friend,

It isn’t slowing down. We have a Speaker and have been legislating again, but the floor schedule is crazy, and unpredictable, we are considering amendments in the middle of the night and there is a lot of tension. Funding for the government expires two weeks from today and we have serious policy issues requiring attention. I am working long hours, meeting with as many people as I can when home, trying to include some normalcy with football, farmers markets, and lots of trick or treating last weekend. Conflict in the Middle East is complicated and dividing Washington and the country as a whole. But here are some of the highlights from the last week. 

Continued Violence in Gaza, Urgent Need for Humanitarian Assistance, Growing Division at Home

The violence that began with the Hamas attack on Israel now has caused thousands of Israeli and Palestinian civilian deaths, injured tens of thousands, and displaced millions. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is worsening every day and the lives of more than two million Palestinians remain at extreme risk. I joined the United Nations, many of my colleagues in Congress, and NGOs in calling for an urgent humanitarian pause in hostilities to deliver lifesaving food and water, ensure the safe passage of civilians attempting to flee and safe return of Americans stranded in Gaza, and secure the return of all hostages. We must ensure that international law is upheld and make every effort to protect civilians in the region.
Since this began more than three weeks ago, I have been consistently talking with community members on all sides who have been impacted, including some who lost loved ones in the Hamas attacks on Israel, and those whose family members have been killed in Gaza. Their stories are devastating and abhorrent. I represent strong Arab American and Jewish communities who are important to me and am seriously disturbed by the rising antisemitism and Islamophobia in our communities and across the country. I have heard horrific accounts from those involved on all sides of lives being threatened, unacceptable vitriolic language, students afraid to wear cultural identifiers, women afraid to walk in hijabs, defecation being left on the doorsteps of homes, and people afraid to speak in fear of retaliation and their own physical safety. It is unacceptable. We all must step up to hate and fear and we must tirelessly work for peace, because we are seeing firsthand the dangers of this growing division. So many are hurting, and we must remember our humanity first in the hardest times.

Joint Washtenaw County Public Safety Statement on Mideast Violence

Washtenaw County Sherriff Jerry Clayton and I led efforts with impacted communities and local law enforcement and released the following statement this afternoon.

As the world watches the ongoing conflict and tragic loss of life in the Middle East, and as those who call Washtenaw County home are impacted daily by what is happening abroad, the public safety leaders of Washtenaw County are diligently working to ensure Washtenaw County is safe for those who live, work, or visit during these uncertain times.  
Over the last several weeks, we have met with numerous Jewish, Muslim, and Arab leaders so that we might listen, learn, understand, and be more attentive to the various needs around community safety and wellness.   
What we heard from everyone regardless of the differences in religious teachings, ethnic backgrounds, or political beliefs was concern for the safety of our community. Many are worried about sending their children to school, taking their families to worship, or simply leaving home. And to a person, each expressed their concern for the lives lost and the humanity which connects us.  
What’s clear, is that despite the historical challenges abroad, we in Washtenaw County are not against one another. Our common humanity, our diversity, and our giving nature is what makes our community special and what unites us in these tumultuous times.  
We cannot control what happens abroad, but as public safety leaders we do have the authority and commitment to ensuring the safety for the people of Washtenaw County.  
Your voice matters. In these difficult times, we all have an obligation to understand the impact our words and actions have on others and the potential those words and actions have to incite violence or hate. Public Safety in Washtenaw County will vigorously protect your right to free speech. This includes all forms of written, illustrated or spoken speech. However, we do not support speech in any form that incites hate, intimidation, or physical violence. We will diligently work to hold perpetrators of these harmful and unlawful behaviors accountable.    
There is zero tolerance for ethnic intimidation. We stand against antisemitism and Islamophobia and are united in our commitment to vigorously investigate and aggressively prosecute hate crimes and all other associated unlawful behavior committed in Washtenaw County. 
There will be extra patrols. Police agencies across the county will be working collaboratively with each other and each of you, paying particular attention to schools and religious institutions during this time. You may see additional presence as a precautionary and deterrent measure. 
See something, say something. Be the one to speak up. If you see something suspicious, report it to us. Your tip could save a life. As a reminder, police agencies in Washtenaw County all have the same protocol for immigration enforcement. We don’t ask about your immigration status. This means that when we respond to your call and during the subsequent investigation, we will not inquire as to your immigration status, unless the requested information is directly germane to the reported incident.  
Report all hate crimes. If someone is being harmed, dial 9-1-1 to get immediate help. If you believe you are the victim of a hate crime or believe you witnessed a hate crime, contact your local law enforcement agency and contact the Michigan Attorney Generals Hate Crime Unit at or 313-456-0180.  
Report discrimination. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights does not investigate hate crime, but they can investigate acts of discrimination in Employment, Education, Housing, Public Accommodation, Public Service, and Law Enforcement. The alleged discrimination must be based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, disability, genetic information, marital status, familial status, height, weight and/or arrest record. File a Complaint 

Please consult your local officials or local public safety agency with questions.

United Auto Workers Tentative Agreements

During the past 10 days, the UAW has reached a tentative agreement with Ford, Stellantis, and GM. The reported provisions of the deals will result in a 25% wage increase over the life of the contracts, workers will have cost of living adjustments, and increased job security. These negotiations have been hard, but they are shaping the future of our auto industry in transformational times. These historic agreements demonstrate what can be accomplished when the workers are given a seat at the table and can work together with management to keep these jobs in America, and keep our country at the forefront of manufacturing, innovation, and technology. 
The UAW membership will now review the details and they have to ratify these agreements. I know how important this is to workers and our community. The news that the Trenton engine plant will remain open is very significant. Remember that all politics are local. The GM Brownstown battery plant is also safe and became part of the GM master agreement. I have many other plants and facilities in the district and look forward to more detailed information about all of them. It appears these contracts are a win for Michigan and the industry. We will await more information and hopefully celebrate when workers have reviewed and ratified.

Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare Open Enrollment is here, and I urge all those who use Medicare to engage, do your research, and make sure you are getting the best plans/options that are right for 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, copays, 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 your 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 your plans send you, like the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC). If your plans are changing, you should make sure your plan will still meet your needs for the following year. If you’re satisfied, it will meet your needs for next year, and your plan is still being offered, you don’t need to do anything.
For information on Medicare plans, click here or call 1-800-MEDICARE.
Take the time to compare plans. This is important for you and an opportunity to protect yourself.

Affordable Care Marketplace

If you don't have health insurance through a job, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or another source that provides qualifying health coverage, you can find coverage through the Marketplace
Consumers can now preview their healthcare coverage options and see detailed information about 2024 health insurance plans. The Open Enrollment Period on has begun and will run through January 15th. This marketplace has extended coverage to millions of uninsured Americans who don’t have private insurance. They can compare plans and coverage to ensure they are making the best choice possible for their health. You can contact the Health Insurance Marketplace by telephone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-318-2596.

Protecting EPA Brownfields Program

This week, I offered an amendment that passed as part of the fiscal year 24 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill to reinforce the importance of keeping dollars in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program.
The EPA Brownfields program has a long history of helping local communities fix contaminated sites that pose a threat to public health and our environment. It has earned bipartisan support since its establishment. In my district, the Brownfields program has helped the Downriver Community Conference redevelop more than 200 sites, attracting over $600 million in local investments. It’s created jobs and expanded our tax base. I work hard to ensure we continue to support this critical program that makes a difference

Right to Repair

This week, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce held a markup on right to repair legislation that included Rep. Dunn’s REPAIR Act. While I firmly support the right to repair, I have significant concerns with the REPAIR Act in its current form. As it’s currently written, the bill is overly broad, and poses significant risks to consumers in Michigan. It contains loopholes that will undermine our competitiveness, national security, and the security of our data. Due to these concerns, I joined with Rep. Larry Bucshon to offer a substitute bill that would codify the 2014 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the auto manufacturers and the aftermarket repair community to provide the necessary tools and information independent repair facilities need to diagnose, repair, and maintain vehicles. 75% of work done on out-of-warranty vehicles is already being done by independent pair shops. And on top of this, our amendment would take the MOU one step further by giving the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforcement authority to ensure robust compliance. During the markup, we received a commitment from the REPAIR Act’s author to continue working on a path forward to ensure we get this right before it gets to a full Committee markup.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Roundtable

This week, Domestic Violence Awareness Month came to a close. On Monday, I hosted The Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, First Step, Haven, SafeHouse, and ACCESS for a roundtable to discuss their work for survivors of domestic violence, learn more about their resources, services, what more had to be done, and unmet needs in our community. We put together an action plan, and discussed how to keep focus on this 12 months a year, and the increasing needs we are all witnessing. There is much critical work to be done, 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.

Resolution Recognizing Intersection of Violence Against Women, Gun Violence, and Misogyny

Rep. Gwen Moore and I reintroduced our resolution, Recognizing the Intersection of Violence Against Women, Gun Violence, and Misogyny. People with a history of domestic violence shouldn’t have access to guns – period. The evidence is clear and convincing that the presence of a firearm in an abusive situation makes homicide five times more likely. Congress must act to close loopholes in the law that allow abusers to access guns and put women and families in danger. We must also confront the root causes of domestic violence, understanding the way individuals who exhibit misogynistic tendencies toward women often go on to commit violence against them.
This is especially relevant as the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in U.S. vs. Rahimi next week, which will determine whether a federal law prohibiting individuals under a domestic violence civil restraining order from possessing guns violates the Second Amendment. I will be speaking on the steps of the Supreme Court next week to fight for survivors.

Annual Survivors Speak Wrongful Conviction Summit

Last weekend, I joined State Sen. Jeff Irwin on a panel at the Annual Survivors Speak Wrongful Conviction Summit. We gathered to discuss the critical issues related to those who’ve been wrongfully convicted for a crime they didn’t commit. 70% of civil legal issues reported by low-income Americans in the past year received inadequate legal help, and 74% of low-income households had at least one civil legal problem. These figures are startling. 
We need to acknowledge the fact that our justice system does not do enough to give communities of color and disadvantaged populations a fair shot, and it’s time to make meaningful reform to our criminal justice system.

Gelman Plume Site Update

After several rounds of testing the contaminated site, the EPA has announced today the Gelman Sciences Dioxane Plume is eligible to move forward as a candidate for inclusion to the National Priorities List due to high levels of 1,4-dioxane. The site is eligible based on data from a recently completed site inspection and historical data. The EPA believes the site should be included on the NPL after results showed concentrations of 1,4-dioxane that likely originated from the site were above three times the background levels, or typical levels found in the area. 
I have long advocated for the Gelman dioxane plume to be designated a Superfund site, and have been working closely with the EPA to protect Ann Arbor and the surrounding communities and environment from the plume’s contamination. We’re not finished yet – we won’t stop until we have the final rule and the plan in place – but this is a very important step. This means we will finally get federal priority and funding to clean up this site that has been threatening the residents of these communities for 40 years. This cleanup has taken far too long for residents, and I’m committed to seeing this cleanup plan through alongside EPA and EGLE.  

Leave No Americans Behind Act of 2023

Last Tuesday, I along with Rep. Jim McGovern reintroduced the Leave No Americans Behind Act of 2023 to end the practice of charging fees from Americans evacuating foreign countries in times of crisis. Right now, we have a responsibility to get Americans out of harm’s way, no questions asked, and no strings attached. These fees place a real financial burden on people during an already traumatic time, while providing only a nominal amount of revenue. The government shouldn’t be making a quick buck at the expense of Americans in distress during times of unrest and instability around the world.

Photos of the Week

Last weekend was complicated with many meetings with members of the Muslim, Arab-American, and Jewish communities. I listened and have been working hard to address so many issues. At the same time, there were many community traditions. This was the first Halloween post pandemic that celebrations were fully enjoyed. I went to Canton, Wyandotte, Plymouth, Northville, Northville Township, Novi, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, Saline, Dexter, Rockwood, Trenton, and Grosse Ile to see lots of superheroes, unicorns, dinosaurs, pirates, monsters, animals, aliens, and even the tooth fairy. It was good to see people just smile, laugh, and have a sugar high. Also participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Ann Arbor Walk with survivors and families to raise money for research and bring attention to the importance of early detection. Joined some friends in Canton for Diwali, a reminder to all to celebrate the victory of light during the darkest of times, and joined the Canton Board of Trustees and the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi for the Zibiwes Nature Area Naming Ceremony, and joined the Governer, the DOT Federal Highway Administrator, and Mayor Mike Duggan for the reopening of the 2nd Ave Bridge in Detroit. Here are some of the highlights from the weekend.

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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