Dingell Update: 11.20.2023
Washington, November 20, 2023
We head into Thanksgiving after another intense week. We passed a continuing resolution and kept the government open. It is now good to be home as holidays and traditions are underway, though I know how many in my community are still scared, angry, worried, and focused on the Mideast and Ukraine, as well as issues closer to home. I am meeting and talking to many and at the same time attending the community events that bring people together: holiday parades, tree lightings, sing-alongs, farmers markets, greens sales, and so much more. Football at all levels engages many. Michigan remains undefeated and clearly there are many issues related to college and university athletics which I am focused on from a public policy perspective with both the Big Ten and the NCAA. I am getting ready for Ohio State next Saturday. The Lions pulled it off again showing their resiliency. And I am always excited that I have high school teams that play so well, and Belleville is again in the finals... Rooting hard for them.
I want to talk about something that happened last week. I was attending an event at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that protestors assembled outside of and where they had every right to make their voices heard. Unfortunately, it became intense and there were serious clashes, pushing and shoving between protestors and police. I tried to exit from a side door, and it had been blocked.
Staff and Police got us out of the building, and I thank them for their work that night. A reporter who I know spoke to me immediately after and asked how I felt. Members of Congress are human beings and experience (or I hope they do), the same basic emotions we all do. I gave an honest answer – I was rattled. Some have tried to analyze what I said in an immediate reaction to being scared into a political commentary on both the protestors that night and January 6th. Let me very clear, I did not make any political comments on anything. I gave an honest answer about being rattled. Being trapped that close brought out immediate emotions not judgment or thoughts on issues being protested.
I strongly believe in the right to peaceful protest and assembly. To be clear – January 6th was not about peace or dialogue, but instead protestors came to the Capitol to disrupt and do harm. They were dangerous and wanted to harm or destroy our democracy. I did then and do now denounce what happened that day and too many people paid a price with death and injury. It was a destructive day and without question one of the worst days in the history of our country.
Wednesday, we were trapped. If those that wanted to be heard didn’t block entrances, I would have met with them as I was leaving. I have been meeting with many in my community. I want to hear from them. The issues they are raising are critical and they need to be heard. But blocking any fire exit anytime anywhere is simply not okay, and that evening was scary for me as an individual.
Last week I talked about all of us reflecting on our Constitutional rights – freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion, due process, and yes, freedom of assembly. When do any of these cross lines into danger, harm, and hate, and we are now dealing with it every day in our lives. Misinformation, symbols, and assembly turning into intensity and violence have made too many in this country fearful of their own safety. These are dangerous times in our democracy and each and every one of us has a responsibility to be intentional on what is happening in our worlds. Social media makes it far too easy for things to be misconstrued, twisted, and viral. Take time to get the facts and to not twist simple things into more than they are. If something doesn’t sound right, there is a good chance it isn’t.
It wasn’t just this event where we witnessed frustrations and anger turning into more than just words. In my world on Capitol Hill Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) challenged Teamsters president Sean O'Brien to a brawl in the middle of a committee hearing, after reading tweets in which O'Brien had talked about wanting to fight. House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) told Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.): "You look like a Smurf." We shouldn’t do that in kindergarten let alone in the Halls of Congress. And Former Speaker McCarthy (R-Calif.) was accused of shoving Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) in the hallways.
Bluntly, people are angry, and violence is becoming easier to slip into, and in some places becoming normalized. I will simply not accept this. I do and will continue to fight for the basic Constitutional rights of every American, while I also think about all the things that are happening now. How do we know where the fine line is and how do all of us work together to lower the level of hostility and hate in this country, and support efforts to disagree, agreeably, listen to each other, learn, and find common ground? I will stand up to hate wherever and whenever I see it. That is the strength of democracy and those who founded our government did. It requires everyone being intentional in these times. Too many are exhausted, we cannot be.
So, for Thanksgiving this year, take the time to appreciate all that we have, to remember the words of Robert Caspar Lintner "Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day” and take the spirit of the day and apply it forward for the world we live in. Use our energy to stand up for peace, compassion, empathy and supporting each other. These are hard times; we get through them together.
Funding the Government
Once again, House Democrats were almost unified in voting to prevent a government shutdown. We passed a clean continuing resolution that keeps our government open until early next year without making any significant cuts to important programs. While I still don’t believe this is the way to govern, with continued temporary measures, I have always said it would be irresponsible and unacceptable to shut the government down. This CR will hopefully give us enough time to come to an agreement on responsible, full-year spending bills that protect the programs that working families depend on.
October Consumer Price Index
Last Tuesday, the Consumer Price Index showed that we have made more progress in bringing down inflation while maintaining one of the strongest job markets in history. At 3.2%, annual inflation is now down by 65% from the peak. Gas prices are below $3.40 per gallon, inflation has come down while the unemployment rate has been below 4% for 21 months in a row—the longest stretch in more than 50 years—while wages, wealth, and the share of working-age Americans with jobs are all higher now than before the pandemic. As part of working in Congress, I will continue to work to bring down everyday costs for hardworking American families.
Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Markup
Wednesday, The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a markup on 21 bills relating to innovation in Medicare. When given the choice, we know patients would overwhelmingly prefer to receive care at home, which can result in significant savings for patients and providers. That’s why I was shocked my legislation—the Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act that increases access to home infusion—was not included in this markup. In 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act established a home infusion professional services benefit for Part B infusion drugs, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have improperly implemented this benefit by requiring a nurse be physically present in a patients’ home to be reimbursed. As a result, beneficiaries have experienced reduced access to home infusion. My Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act would provide technical clarification to remove the physical presence requirement and ensure the benefit is working as Congress intended. I offered this bill as an amendment to reiterate my commitment to continue working on this legislation and see that it advances this Congress.
This markup also considered legislation to protect patients against pharmacy benefit manager abuses. I remain deeply concerned about the role pharmacy benefit managers, also known as PBMs, play in complicating seniors’ access to the local pharmacies they depend on. For far too long, PBMs have been allowed to operate virtually unchecked, leading to higher costs of prescription drugs and restricted access to a patients’ choice of pharmacy and medicines that are right for them. I introduced the NO PBMs Act with my good friend Rep. Buddy Carter to increase PBM accountability by preventing PBMs from discriminating against pharmacies that are willing to contract with them. This will ensure seniors can get their medications closer to home at the pharmacies they trust.
Labor Caucus Member Meeting
As co-chair of the Labor Caucus, we welcomed Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su to a meeting with members of Congress on Tuesday to discuss top labor priorities, and hear updates about the Department’s recent activity and outlook through the end of the year. They’re working to empower workers and promote equity while ensuring that the vast majority of employers who comply with the law have a level playing field and are not disadvantaged.
Visit from Hart Middle School Students
Wednesday, I was pleased to spend some time with students from Hart Middle School in Rochester, Michigan on their 8th grade trip to Washington, D.C. They asked some great questions about my work in Congress and more. Our young people are our future and I always enjoy spending time with them.
Climate Change Updates
A new report finds that the effects of climate change are becoming more and more evident. The Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) makes clear how warming is rippling across regions and economic sectors. The new report pegs this warming at between 4.5°F and 7.2°F, which would result from a doubling of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.
This news could be devastating to future generations and it’s critical that we continue doing everything possible to combat climate change.
2nd Anniversary of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
Wednesday, we celebrated the second anniversary of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, landmark legislation that has already invested nearly $400 billion in more than 40,000 projects across the country. This includes $9.6 billion for Michigan for more than 376 specific projects: $5 billion for roads and bridges, $1.6 billion for accessible high-speed internet, $489 million for clean, safe water and water infrastructure, $348 million for clean energy, energy efficiency, and power to build the first-ever national network of EV chargers in the US, and more. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act kick-started our economic recovery and prioritizes critical issues I’ve been working on for years. It's fixing our roads and bridges, getting the lead out of our pipes, implementing drunk driving technology, protecting the Great Lakes, and more. Thanks to House Democrats and President Biden’s Leadership, this once-in-a-generation investment is creating American jobs and supporting safer, cleaner, stronger communities.
Wine Caucus Trade Letter
Friday, as a member of the Congressional Wine Caucus, I joined my colleagues in sending a letter to the United States Trade Representative Ambassador Tai raising concerns about the challenges U.S. wine producers face in critical export markets around the world including the key growth markets of India, China, and Vietnam. The letter asks USTR to commit additional resources to expand access to critical markets for high value exports like wine.
As of 2020, there were 3,375 acres under wine-grape cultivation and over 200 commercial wineries in Michigan, producing 3 million U.S. gallons of wine. I am hopeful that Ambassador Tai redoubles USTR’s efforts to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers for U.S wine producers, which will support wineries in Michigan and beyond.
Lung Cancer Awareness Month
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society predicted that in 2023, 117,550 men and 120,790 women would be diagnosed with lung cancer. It is the second most common cancer in both men and women in the United States. Anyone can get it, but smoking is the leading cause. While many factors contribute to lung cancer risk, about 80-90% of lung cancer deaths are related to cigarette smoking. If you've smoked, talk to a doctor about getting screened. Early detection saves lives. If you’re seeking help to quit smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW & visit preventcancer.org/lung for more information.
According to the latest data, at least 10.6 million Medicaid enrollees have been disenrolled since the start of Medicaid unwinding earlier this year. 71% of all people disenrolled had their coverage terminated for procedural reasons.
No one should lose access to health care because of bureaucratic delays. The unwinding of Medicaid is the single largest health coverage transition event since the first open enrollment period of the ACA, and we cannot allow people to slip through the cracks and lose critical coverage simply because they don’t have the right paperwork or don’t know what steps to take to work through the red tape. For more information about Medicaid benefit changes, visit Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services website here.
Investment Tax Credit
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released guidance on the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that provides the private sector with additional clarity and certainty in making investment decisions for clean energy projects. This clarity is critical as companies secure financing for clean energy projects, create good-paying jobs in communities across the United States, and strengthen our nation’s energy security. For more information, click here.
Telephone Town Hall
On Monday, November 27, I will host a telephone town hall at 5 PM. Your thoughts and concerns are very important to me and guide my work in Congress. Participants will have an opportunity to listen to what’s going on, ask questions, share comments, join a survey on what you think on the phone, or just listen in. We’ll be discussing recent updates from Congress, including government funding, and issues important to Michigan’s 6th District with a live audience. I hope you’ll join - sign up here or dial in at 888-886-6602 at 5 PM on Monday, November 27.
Death of Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, a compassionate, kind, strong, courageous, and empathetic woman died yesterday at 96 years old. I met her when I first started dating John Dingell, and her kindness and support are what I will always remember. She was a woman of strength and determination with a soft approach and a steely spine, taking on issues that others wouldn’t including mental health and immunizations. She was unfailingly kind and never afraid to do the right thing. Many have been touched by her work, grace, and service. The country is lucky to have had her leadership. My prayers and thoughts are with the Carter family.
Photos of the Week
Being home is always good. Lots to do, and lots happening. Thanksgiving gatherings including Seniors in Novi at Meadowbrook Commons, Eastern University Community Gathering, Dexter Chamber Gathering, St. John’s Baptist Church, and Embracing Our Differences, among others. Farmers markets, robotics in Canton, Diwali celebrations, VFWs, Michigan College Dems. Lots of people to see, hear and really talk with - dialogue, it matters. And holiday celebrations are in full swing. Hob Nobble Gobble, Christmas Tree Lightings in Northville and Riverview, Festival of Trees, Northville Holiday Greens Winter Market, and craft sales in many communities. Days are full of complicated feelings and the hope of the holiday season. And I close with much love and prayers for a peaceful, healthy, and relaxing Thanksgiving week. And oh yes, GO BLUE on Saturday over Ohio State. 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