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Debbie's Blog

A bipartisan step forward for 21st Century Cures & More

Washington, DC, July 11, 2015

What a week...a lot of emotion on the House floor; announcements of Ford moving product to Mexico outraged me; John celebrated his 89th birthday; we had a memorial service for John's daughter Jeanne who died recently from lymphoma and we spent time with her children, who arrived from Poland; and John kept his sense of humor by tweeting.
First, let's talk about the legislative week. Perhaps, one of the most important pieces of legislation to be considered since I was elected is a bill called the 21st Century Cures Act, which passed the House yesterday with strong bipartisan support. If this bill gets through the Senate, we will invest as a nation in critical health research and accelerate the pace of cures. The legislation would help modernize the healthcare innovation infrastructure, incorporate a patient perspective into the drug and device approval process, support advances in personalized medicine, streamline clinical trials but still keep safe and provide more resources to support cutting-edge research and help young scientists.
Many thanks to Michigan's own Fred Upton and Colorado Member Diana DeGette who worked tirelessly for years to get this through. Their bipartisan leadership is what we need more of in this country. Fred and I will be hosting an event in Ann Arbor later this year to talk about the bill.
On the opposite spectrum, was the unacceptable scene on the House floor related to the Confederate flag. This week, as South Carolina voted to take down the Confederate flag from their state capitol, House Republicans started defending its display on federal property. This symbol of racism, violence and oppression has no business on federal property and it was outrageous that we were having that discussion in Congress this week.
While we were having that debate, I learned that one of our cultural centers in Dearborn had been hit with hate graffiti. It's not okay and we as a community need to send that as a strong message. This week once again reminds us that we must continue to fight hate and prejudice wherever we see it. Every American deserves equal rights, equal opportunity and equal dignity without discrimination. Let's fight together for that.
Other votes included No Child Left Behind, which I voted against because it was not a strong bill. It failed to close the achievement gap and provide effective education to all our students, which is a critical requirement. Our kids deserve better and a good education is vital for every young person to have equal opportunity.
We also voted on amendments to the Interior Appropriations bill. I am very concerned about multiple efforts to gut and eliminate critical pieces of law passed in the 60's and 70's that cleaned up our water, air and lands. While we need to eliminate duplicative regulations, we have a responsibility to protect our environment for generations to come...they are who we are borrowing the land from now. Pope Francis observed "What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? The question not only concerns the environment in isolation; the issue cannot be approached piecemeal.” He also observes that "reckless" behavior has pushed the planet to a perilous "breaking point." We have a moral responsibility on these issues and it is one we should take very seriously.
There were hearings on "Make It In America” and the future of manufacturing this week as well. Just as the hearings were getting underway, we learned that Ford would be moving production of the Focus and C-Max from the Wayne Plant in Michigan and UAW officials say the work is going to Mexico. This outraged me – not at Ford but at the U.S., which has a responsibility to support businesses in this country by creating policies that keep jobs here in America. Small cars have a small profit margin and a simple thing like currency manipulation erases their ability to be profitable in the U.S. We just passed a trade bill on the House floor that did nothing to truly address currency manipulation, and that’s unacceptable and inexcusable. NAFTA cost us 5 million jobs, the Korea Free Trade Agreement tens of thousands more. When is enough, enough? Let me be clear that this will be one of my top priorities the next few months fighting another trade deal that will cost us more jobs. I want the Focus and the C-Max made here in America. I want jobs for the working men and women in this country. Please join me in fighting for that!
You can see all votes from this week on the homepage of my website.
We also met with constituents from Michigan on a variety of subjects. I met with more than 20 young women in high school who were in DC on a young leaders trip with Planned Parenthood and listened to their issues and concerns. A large delegation was in from Michigan from the Alliance for Retired Americans and we talked about many issues of mutual concern. Met with Matt Monterial, a young nuclear scientist studying at the University of Michigan, and visited with a number of Michigan interns. This week also brought Yolanda Randon with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; Her Excellency Hunaina Sultan Al Mughairy, Ambassador of Oman; advocates with the National Action Network to discuss criminal justice; the Paralyzed Veterans of America to discuss strengthening and expanding Social Security; Craig Borr, President of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association; and Laura Braun and Becky Whaley of GreenStone Farm Credit. I also spoke with great groups of young women at Running Start’s Young Women’s Political Leadership Program and Congresswoman Barbara Comstock’s leadership program. These women are our next generation of leaders!
On other issues, I was happy to celebrate John's birthday and I cherish every single day I have with him. I take nothing for granted. Our love affair endures and he is without fail, the wind beneath my wings.
Melancholy filled us as we celebrated the life of his daughter. Her family tells us that she probably died from complications with the medicine she was being given for her was very sudden and a reminder that while we may get frustrated by FDA, their caution does protect patients. We learned FDA would not approve the drug in this country. Jeanne was taking it in Europe. Our family, like most families, is complicated...but everyone came together this week and it was a healing time.
John finished his week giving me a hard time on Twitter. I am trying to keep up with him. You can see the exchange in the Hill. This weekend Electablog is honoring him for his tweeting talents.
Hope you have a good weekend and I love hearing your comments. D2

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