The State of the Union: Strong
Earlier this month, President Trump delivered a strong State of the Union Address to the nation. Unemployment is at its lowest point in fifty years, wages are rising for all skill levels, and 60,000 Michiganders have been lifted out of poverty because of President Trump’s pro-growth agenda.
By renegotiating trade deals to put Americans first and implementing pro-growth policies such as tax cuts, the President and Republicans in Congress have helped create new opportunities for hardworking Americans and delivered the strongest economy in decades.
The USMCA is a Win for Michigan Families and Our Economy
On January 29th, President Trump officially signed the USMCA. This is a vital opportunity to continue to grow Michigan's economy.
Estimates show that 65% of Michigan’s exports head to either Mexico or Canada. The USMCA creates new opportunities for farmers and manufacturers across Michigan while supporting economic opportunity and growth here in West Michigan.
Many people doubted President Trump’s ability to renegotiate NAFTA in a manner that would benefit hardworking Americans. With the signing of the USMCA, the President delivered a bipartisan win for American families, workers, manufacturers, and small business job creators.
The Senate Votes to Acquit President Trump
For years, Democrats have pursued the most partisan impeachment in our nation’s history. By acquitting President Trump on both of these flawed Articles of Impeachment, the Senate delivered the outcome virtually everyone expected.
House Democrats now have a choice. Are they going to continue to divide our nation and try to undermine the President at any cost or can we finally turn the page and focus our full attention on the issues and challenges facing Americans?
I hope my colleagues make the decision to join me in working on legislative solutions that increase opportunity, prosperity, and security for all Americans.
Fighting For West Michigan Farmers
Currently, our seasonal and perishable specialty crop growers are forced to compete on a playing field that is tilted against them.
Specifically, Michigan’s asparagus, blueberry, and cherry growers lack the proper ability to address the dubious trade practices being used by other nations. That is why I am calling on trade representatives from Washington to come to West Michigan and hear directly from our farmers.
I believe West Michigan specialty crop growers should have the opportunity to share how the illicit trade practices used by foreign countries are negatively impacting our economy at the local level, disrupting free market competition, and threatening the viability of family farming.
As of January 31st, I am happy to let you know both Congressman Moolenaar and Congressman Bergman from Michigan have joined me in calling for the United States Trade Representative's Office, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Agriculture to hold a field hearing with Michigan farmers.
Protecting the Great Lakes, Strengthening West Michigan's Economy
For months, I have been working to build bipartisan support for a five year renewal and expansion of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). I am happy to report that on February 6th, this legislation passed the House by a vote of 373-45.
The GLRI is the lead program for protecting and preserving the Great Lakes at the federal level. The GLRI includes funding for projects that clean up legacy pollution, combat invasive species, address algae blooms, and help habitat restoration. A recent study by the University of Michigan found that every $1 invested from the GLRI has generated more than $3 in additional long-term economic activity.
Additionally, we have seen the positive impact of the GLRI in West Michigan. For example, in Muskegon, where a recent GLRI project was completed to clean up legacy pollution, it is estimated that property values have increased by nearly $12 million while also generating $1 million in new recreational spending supporting small businesses and the local economy.
On January 30th, I joined the President aboard Air Force One to discuss a host of issues important to West Michigan. In fact they were some of the very same issues I am writing to you about today including: the positive impact the USMCA will have on Michigan, protecting the Great Lakes, the Soo Locks, erosion mitigation, and leveling the playing field for specialty crop growers. It was great to have the opportunity to advocate for West Michigan's priorities directly with President Trump!
Building Consensus: The Great Lakes & The President's Budget
Last March, Congressman Moolenaar, Congressman Bergman, and I, met with the President in West Michigan to discuss the importance of Great Lakes and how the GLRI plays a critical role in strengthening the economy and the ecology of the Great Lakes.
Following that meeting, President Trump announced in Grand Rapids that he was updating his FY 2020 budget to fully fund the GLRI reversing a 90% cut to this critical program.
I am happy to report that on February 10th, the President demonstrated his commitment to Michigan and the entire Great Lakes region by fully funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in his FY2021 budget.
Sometimes understanding the scope of the GLRI can be difficult. This is why I have been working to build a bipartisan consensus in Congress and with the Trump Administration to advocate for and educate people on the Great Lakes. By clicking the image above, you can view an interactive map detailing how the GLRI has impacted West Michigan, communities across Michigan, and those throughout the entire Great Lakes region.
I want to thank my colleagues in Congress as well as the President and his team for working with me to make the preservation and restoration of the Great Lakes a national priority!
Addressing Lakeshore Erosion
In January, I had a unique opportunity to survey the shoreline of Lake Michigan from Holland to Ludington aboard a U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter.
It was stunning to see the extent of the damage from a bird's eye view. Officials at all levels of government need to work together to ensure property owners are able to take the steps necessary to protect their homes. This means streamlining permitting processes at the state and federal level and improving reaction times across the board.
As I discussed in the last Huddle, I introduced an amendment to legislation that passed the House in December that would support the creation of natural barriers to help mitigate erosion damage in the Great Lakes.
I have recently met with both the Army Corps of Engineers as well as FEMA to discuss potential paths forward. During our conversation, I urged FEMA and the Army Corps to provide further tactical assistance, thereby empowering local communities with their expertise on how to best protect our lakeshore, infrastructure, and adjacent properties.
Upcoming Veteran's Resource Fair
On Friday, March 6th, I will be hosting a Veteran’s Resource Fair in Oceana County. This event is designed to help veterans, as well as the surviving family of veterans, learn about and discuss the different resources available at the local, state, and federal level.
The event will take place from 10 AM – 12 PM at VFW Post 1329 in Hart. The VFW is located at 802 S State St.
Representatives from Oceana County, the American Legion, the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, and the Veterans Health Administration will also be in attendance. This event is open to all veterans and their family members who live in the Second District.
If you know a veteran here in West Michigan, please make sure to spread the word!
The Michigan Minute