Time moves fast, and it is difficult to believe April15 marked the 100th day of the new Congress and my 100th day as a member of the Michigan delegation. The five freshmen from our state, in particular, have made a strong effort to learn together. We know the people of Michigan sent us to Washington, D.C., to help solve problems, and we are more interested in finding solutions than engaging in partisan bickering.
While we face many complicated issues from keeping our nation safe, to protecting our seniors and children, to fixing our roads and infrastructure we are committed to moving our country forward. My priorities remain those that I always talk about: fighting for working men and women and their families, helping to create good jobs, and fighting for affordable, quality healthcare and education for every American. Long-term care has also become a particular passion for me.
Let me share some of the highlights of these first days and as always, I welcome your input and thoughts.
• Trade is a major issue for those of us who live in Michigan. The first floor speech of my career addressed this issue, and I have been part of the House team fighting hard to protect the American worker, especially those in the auto sector. I am committed to protecting this country from a bad trade deal, and any free trade agreement that doesn’t address currency manipulation, the mother of all trade barriers, doesn’t do enough to level the playing field or protect the American worker.
• A top priority for me is passing a comprehensive bill that brings our long-term health care system into the 21st century. This is rapidly becoming a crisis as our nation continues to age. My amendment to prioritize the passage of a long-term care bill in this Congress was included in a budget proposal the House considered last month. This was an important way to begin the conversation about how we address this problem.
• The first piece of legislation I authored as a member of Congress is the Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2015. Currently, Medicare does not cover hearing aids for seniors, and this would allow Medicare to provide this important coverage for seniors. No one should feel isolated, confused or shut out from the world around them because they cannot afford the treatment they need.
• In a bipartisan effort, the House passed an important compromise to repeal and replace the flawed Medicare physician payment formula and provide much-needed certainty to doctors, health care providers and seniors. It also extends the Childrens Health Insurance Program, which provides quality, affordable care for more than 89,000 low-income children in Michigan.
• Last week, we held student loan roundtables in Dearborn and Ann Arbor to hear from students about the challenges they face financing their educations. About 1.5 million Michigan residents owe more than $39 billion on their student loans, and I’m an original cosponsor of the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act to help ease that burden.
• Protecting the Great Lakes is a top priority for me on the Natural Resources Committee, and I am working with Congresswoman Candice Miller to protect our waters from Asian carp.
• It was an honor to be asked by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer to serve as a Senior Whip in the 114th Congress to work with my colleagues on strategies that move our country forward and help hardworking families, the backbone of our country, get ahead.
• This Valentines Day, students from across the 12th District made more than 2,500 valentines for veterans at the John Dingell VA and the Ann Arbor VA. It was an honor to deliver them on their behalf. After Valentines for Veterans received such an overwhelming response from students and local veterans, we launched Sending Smiles to Vets, a year-round program to provide artwork to veterans.
• We celebrated Reading Month by reading to students at Bedford Elementary in March, and plan to visit classrooms in our district each month.
• Last month, I joined the Dearborn City Council to take a strong stand against hate toward Muslim and Arab Americans and endorse the Campaign to Take on Hate. We all want our community to be a place where everyone feels welcome and respected. You cannot fight intolerance with intolerance, and this resolution sends a powerful message that we are united in our efforts to counter stereotypes, overcome prejudice and end hate.
The top priority of this office is to be open and accessible to you. Please make sure you contact us when you need us and know we are available and want to hear from you.
(U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell’s local offices are at 19855 W. Outer Drive, Suite 103-E, Dearborn, MI, 48124 (313-278-2936), and 301 W. Michigan Ave., Suite 400, Ypsilanti, MI, 48197 (734-481-1100). Her Washington, D.C., office is at 116 Cannon HOB, Washington, D.C., 20515 (phone 202-225-4071, fax 202-226-0371).)