|The Huizenga Huddle: June 15, 2018
|Tax Reform & West Michigan
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Tyson's Plant just outside of Zeeland. As a kid, I remember going there when it was the old Bil-Mar facility. During my tour, I learned that nearly 900 employees at the facility received $1,000 bonuses as a direct result of the tax reform legislation.
Also as a direct result of the new tax bill, Tyson is going to invest significant resources in the Zeeland Plant, making it even more environmentally friendly, and opening a new production line that will create 65 new jobs! This wonderful news isn’t the only local example. Read my op-ed in the Zeeland Record detailing how tax reform is positively impacting West Michigan.
On Monday, I toured Swoboda Inc's manufacturing facility in Kentwood. Because the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered their tax rate, this auto parts supplier is now better positioned to compete for contracts against companies in Mexico. This means more opportunity for economic growth and job creation right here in West Michigan.
Bipartisan Dodd-Frank Reform Signed Into Law
For the past decade, hardworking families across the nation have been denied the economic recovery they deserve because of Washington’s insistence on a one-size fits all regulatory structure. This has made it more difficult for low and moderate income families in West Michigan to access the credit necessary to buy a car, own a home, save for retirement, plan for their children to go to college, and climb the ladder of opportunity.
The Economic Growth Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act will unleash American innovation, boost job creation, and strengthen capital formation by providing important regulatory relief to community financial institutions while increasing opportunity for small businesses and consumers on Main Street. The President signed this bipartisan bill into law on May 24. To learn about this important regulatory reform legislation, click the image above.
Tariffs on Canada
While I understand the Administration’s goal of putting America first, I don’t believe placing tariffs on Canada, Mexico, and the European Union achieves the desired outcome. Steel and aluminum imports from these countries do not pose a security risk to the United States. In fact, manufacturers across Michigan have particularly benefited from our strong economic ties to both Canada as well as EU Nations.
On May 29th, I heard first-hand from manufacturers in Grand Haven who shared how the soon-to-be enacted tariffs have already raised the cost of doing business. The existing contracts these suppliers, manufacturers, and small businesses signed are not able to be renegotiated which means the added costs will directly impact their operations and growth outlook. Any perceived short-term gain from these overly broad tariffs may be quickly blunted by hardworking men and women losing their jobs in West Michigan and communities where manufacturing plays a significant role in the local economy.
Last Tuesday, I joined Stuart Varney on Fox Business to discuss how China, not Canada, should be the focus of conversation on steel tariffs. Additionally I also shared some thoughts on how I believe portions of NAFTA can be modernized, but a five year sunset provision isn't the right course of action. You can watch the exchange by clicking the picture above.
On Wednesday evening, I spoke to the Canadian Broadcasting Company from the Capitol to discuss the ongoing economic disagreements between the U.S. and Canada. While there are issues that need to be resolved, the rhetoric being used needs to be lowered and policies that benefit both American and Canadian workers need to be sought out. To watch the interview, click the image above.
Last week, I supported the largest rescission package to ever pass the House. The Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act recoups nearly $15 billion in unspent funds from across the federal government. It doesn't make sense to have unused taxpayer dollars sitting in an account and adding to the debt. Instead, let's use those dollars to pay down the debt.
In order to get our nation’s fiscal house in order, we need to address the debt in both the short-term as well as the long-term. This legislation addresses the short-term while restoring a framework for future reforms to shrink the size of the government, reduce spending, and increase accountability. While this is a good start, more must be done.
Supporting Our Men and Women in Uniform
In the last few weeks, the House has passed bipartisan legislation to make sure our troops have the resources to complete their mission and come home safely. After the National Defense Authorization Act passed the House, Rep. Fred Upton and I wrote a piece for the Holland Sentinel discussing why we support this important bipartisan bill.
First, we’re supporting necessary increases in funding to support our troops and readiness recovery consistent with President Trump’s commitment to rebuilding our military. Next, we put an emphasis on caring for our troops and their families. Our military personnel, and their families, are our most valuable asset. This is why we’re authorizing a 2.6 percent pay raise for our troops — the highest increase in nine years.
Third, we increase accountability at the U.S. Pentagon. With a focus on streamlining the buying process, finding efficiencies and reducing the budget of certain DOD-wide activities by 25%, we can protect taxpayer dollars and ensure resources are being directed to the right places. You can read my entire op-ed with Rep. Upton here.
Serving Those Who Served Our Nation
The MISSION Act contains significant reforms to ensure our veterans receive the care they deserve. Specifically, this bipartisan legislation expands choice and flexibility for veterans in need of specialized care. Our veterans shouldn't have to wait months and drive hundreds of miles to get VA approved care. The MISSION Act takes a very positive step forward to improve care for our heroes in West Michigan and across the nation.
Additionally, last week the House passed legislation to strengthen oversight and accountability at the VA while providing historic levels of funding to ensure our veterans receive the best care available.
This legislation enhances resources for mental health care services, suicide prevention, rural health initiatives, opioid abuse prevention, and homeless veterans programs. Lastly, the bill also enhances the processing of disability claims to help clear the current backlog and modernizes the VA's electronic health record system. I hope the Senate acts quickly to pass this legislation and provide these services our veterans need.
Last month, I joined the USO in building care packages for our troops stationed across the globe. In each package I included a short note thanking our men and women in uniform for their service. We are blessed to have organizations like the USO supporting our members of the military as well as their families!
The Great Lakes Economy
Last month, Rep. Jack Bergman and I traveled to Joliet, Illinois to meet with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss the proposed plan to improve the Brandon Road Lock and Dam. The Army Corps’ proposal, known as the Brandon Road Study, would significantly reduce the ability of Asian carp to enter the Great Lakes. This is an issue we must address sooner rather than later, because if the carp are able to enter the Great Lakes, the economic and ecological damage may be irreversible. To watch the Facebook live update Rep. Bergman and I provided from Brandon Road, click the image above.
On June 8th, the House passed legislation critical to both West Michigan and the Great Lakes. Having properly dredged ports & harbors is vital to economic growth and job creation in Muskegon, Holland, Grand Haven, and Ludington as well as dozens of lakeshore communities here in Michigan and hundreds more across the nation.
When I started the bipartisan effort to restore the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, only 47% of the fees collected were actually used for harbor maintenance. Under this legislation, 95% of the funds collected in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will be used for dredging and harbor maintenance.
There is more work to be done, but I look forward to continuing to lead this bipartisan effort to hold Washington accountable and significantly increase our ability to export more “Made in Michigan” and “Made in America” products.
The potential to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula is something that must be pursued. Through tough sanctions, some of which were put in place by the House Financial Services Committee, and in coordination with our allies, we have brought the North Koreans to the table. I am glad to see the Americans being held hostage were returned home. Building on that positive momentum, I believe the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un was a step in the right direction.
While these positive steps should not be overlooked, we cannot kid ourselves. Much work remains to be done to hold North Korea accountable to its promises and that is going to take time, further negotiations, and verification. I encourage the Administration to maintain maximum pressure and constantly consult with our allies in the region and across the globe.
The Obama Administration’s Nuclear Deal with Iran did not make the American people, or our allies in Europe and across the Middle East safer.
Make no mistake; Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. They have continued to destabilize the Middle East by financing and exporting terrorism across the region and beyond. The Iranian Nuclear Deal rewarded bad behavior and I support the President’s decision to withdraw from it. I encourage our European allies to join us in moving to contain the threat posed by the Iranian regime. Through sanctions and maximum pressure, we can bring the Iranians back to the table instead of leading them to the very edge of a nuclear breakout.
If you would like to learn more about the steps I have taken to hold the Iranian Regime accountable, you can do so here.
The Michigan Minute