An infamous start to the 117th Congress
After examining the Article of Impeachment put forward by House Democrats, I do not believe their evidence rises to the constitutional threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors.
On Wednesday, I voted against impeachment. What took place on January 6th was a tragedy. Violence has no place in our political system. With days remaining in President Trump’s term, impeachment further divides our nation and prevents us from coming together.
Following Wednesday's vote, I took to Facebook Live to explain why I voted against impeachment. I encourage you to watch the video by clicking on the photo below.
This definitely isn't the start to the 117th Congress that I had hoped for. The events that took place on January 6th serve as a stark reminder that we have lost the notion of civility.
Violence is not how we resolve our differences in America and this isn’t the West Michigan way. Violence in all fashions must be condemned. Those who broke the law need to be held accountable. There is also an important distinction that must be made. There is a big difference between a peaceful protest and storming the Capitol Building.
On January 7th, I joined Justin Barclay on WOOD Radio in a long form interview to discuss the events that I witnessed and how we move our nation forward. You can click on the image below to hear our conversation.
Great News for the Great Lakes
Over the last several weeks, there have been several major developments regarding efforts to safeguard and restore the Great Lakes.
GLRI Renewal and Expansion: On January 5th, the President signed a five year extension of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) into law. As Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force, I helped champion passage of this bipartisan legislation through the House. This new law will protect, restore, and strengthen both the ecology and the economy of the Great Lakes for years to come. To lean more about this important win for West Michigan, click here.
Making A Difference Across Michigan: On December 29th, the EPA announced the successful completion of a $6.6 million GLRI project in Muskegon and a $2.9 million GLRI project in Detroit. These are critical steps forward in the effort to clean up legacy pollution and restore both Muskegon Lake and the Detroit riverfront. A recent study by Grand Valley State University found the GLRI-led effort to restore Muskegon Lake has increased recreational spending by $27.9 million per year. For more information on the restoration of Muskegon Lake as well as the research from Grand Valley State University, click here. To learn more about the GLRI, click on the photo below.
Improving Information: On December 31st, President Trump signed the Great Lakes Environmental Sensitivity Index Act of 2020 into law. I was the lead republican sponsor of this bipartisan effort in the House. While the Great Lakes hold over 20% of the world's freshwater, provide drinking water to more than 48 million people, support over 1.3 million jobs, and generate billions upon billions of dollars in economic activity, the environmental maps for the Great Lakes region have not been updated in more than 20 years. This law will help us update these critical maps every seven years so we can better protect public infrastructure from erosion, properly plan in case of an emergency, and more effectively restore habitat for endangered species. You can read more about this new law here.
Asian Carp Update: On January 7th, an agreement was announced between Michigan and Illinois to move forward on the Brandon Road Lock and Dam System. While still in the very early stages, this is a significant step forward in the effort to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp. In order to build on this progress, I believe it is critical that funding for Brandon Road be included in the 2021 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers work plan to protect the Great Lakes and move the project into its next phase.
Standing Up For West Michigan Agriculture
On Tuesday morning, I spoke in support of West Michigan blueberry growers during a United States International Trade Commission (ITC) hearing on unsavory blueberry import practices. Michigan growers, family farms, and processors are currently being undercut by foreign imports specifically designed to maximize damage to American farmers. My testimony follows up on a bipartisan letter I led to the ITC on December 22nd with several of my Michigan colleagues detailing the economic toll these trade practices have had on Michigan growers. You can read the letter here.
Last month, I was happy to announce a significant win for Michigan cherry growers and processors. By working with the US Department of Agriculture and the Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI) my office was able to help facilitate conversations that led to the end of a 15% tariff on U.S. tart cherry juice.
Estimates from the CMI show that 75% of tart cherries produced in the United States are grown here in Michigan. Additionally, projections show that exporting tart cherry juice to Taiwan has the potential to reach over $1 million. This means more economic opportunity for growers, processors, and families across Michigan.
When our farmers and growers are able to compete on a level playing field, Michigan families benefit. This announcement is great news for Michigan cherry growers and the agricultural community as a whole. To learn more about this new opportunity click here.
Serving West Michigan
I am honored to have the opportunity to serve West Michigan in the 117th Congress. While our nation faces many challenges, I am thankful to have the support of my family and our community to make the Second District, Michigan, and America an even better place to call home.
The Michigan Minute