Responding to COVID-19
Throughout this crisis, I’ve focused on advocating for the families of the 8th District, working across party lines for solutions that save lives, honor our front-line workers, and move us toward the safe resumption of daily life we all miss.
The first task was to work to get our front-line workers the personal protective equipment they need, and to push for federal assistance for our district’s families and small businesses. My background in national security has taught me to learn from the current crisis so that we’re better prepared for the next, which is why I have been so focused on ensuring that our nation is better prepared.
Supporting front-line workers and medical response efforts
Early on in the crisis, one of my major areas of focus was securing personal protective equipment, medical supplies and other resources for 8th District hospitals and our nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals on the front-lines. I advocated for strong federal action to fight the virus, including steps to coordinate the fragmented federal response to medical supply needs. I supported the CARES Act which provided more than $100 billion for hospitals, and for more than $170 billion in funding for medical response efforts.
I fought to secure supplies for Michigan front-line workers when the federal government failed to act. I introduced bipartisan legislation to push for use of the Defense Production Act to boost critical supplies, as well as legislation to improve on the government’s halting approach to using the DPA.
To prevent our country from ever being dependent on foreign sources for our masks, gloves, and other vital supplies again, I launched the Made in America Medical Supply Chain Initiative, a series of legislative proposals to reduce America’s dependence on foreign-made medical supplies and to boost America’s manufacturing capacity, and worked successfully to include key provisions on the initiative in House-passed COVID-19 relief legislation.
As a result of this initiative, I led a bipartisan group of lawmakers to introduce legislation to strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile of medical supplies and reduce our dependence on offshore sources of critical items. I also pushed on a bipartisan basis for federal action on a process developed at Michigan State University to decontaminate masks for medical personnel.
Our front-line workers who are fighting COVID-19 deserve our recognition, and that’s why I’ve led a resolution in Congress to honor those workers. To protect our front-line workers, I also supported the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” orders in Michigan that have saved lives and kept our hospitals from being overwhelmed.
In addition to my legislative work, our campaign team raised more than $55,000 in donations for funds dedicated to front-line workers at hospitals serving the 8th District.
Supporting workers and families
From the start of this crisis, I’ve called for economic recovery and stimulus efforts to be based on the lessons of the Great Recession — efforts that focus help where it’s needed most: for working families and small businesses. I’ve called on a bipartisan basis for federal support to small and medium-sized local governments, so they can continue providing vital services and protect the jobs of first responders. I strongly supported the CARES Act, which included economic impact payments of up to $1,200 per person; enhanced unemployment benefits for workers laid off during the crisis, and benefits newly-available to self-employed and “gig economy” workers; crisis relief for many student borrowers; and increased support for food security through SNAP benefits and aid to local food banks.
I advocated for legislation to close a gap that had left many dependents such as college students and disabled adults out of the economic impact payments. As businesses work to reopen I’ve called for them to plan carefully to protect worker health and safety. And I’ve advocated for expanded access to broadband internet in response to the ways the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted unequal access.
Supporting small businesses
From the beginning of this crisis, I’ve advocated for federal support for small businesses, the backbone of communities across the 8th District. As “Stay Home, Stay Safe” orders required businesses to close for public health reasons, I pushed for federal assistance and brought together experts to advise businesses on how they could prepare to apply for federal disaster loans. I supported passage of the Paycheck Protection Program and advocated for its extension, and joined other members of the Michigan delegation in pressing for equitable assistance to Michigan businesses, and I voted for the HEROES Act, despite its flaws, in part because it provided the additional flexibility in using PPP funds that businesses in my districts had asked for, and I cosponsored bipartisan legislation that made important improvements to the PPP program.
I held a special online forum for 8th District small businesses with the regional director of the Small Business Administration and a representative of Michigan banks, and participated in forums held by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and Brighton Chamber of Commerce, among other small business groups.
Connecting with communities across the 8th District
Throughout this crisis, I’ve been committed to providing constituents with timely, accurate, useful information about COVID-19 and response efforts. Our team has held regular telephone town halls for thousands of district residents to hear their questions and concerns. We’ve held regular needs assessment calls with local elected officials and community leaders across the 8th District to hear their concerns and those of their communities.
And I’ve held forums with faith leaders, nonprofit groups, labor leaders, emergency first-responders, medical and dental professionals, students and other groups to understand the unique effects of the crisis on their communities and professions. I’ve also spoken out against the use of misinformation during the crisis, by foreign and domestic actors, to sow distrust and division.
Working across the aisle
From the early days of the crisis, I’ve approached our response the way I try to approach all my work: reaching across the aisle to achieve practical, bipartisan solutions because that’s the only way things get done in Washington. With negotiations on relief legislation stalled, I joined the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in proposing a compromise plan aimed at bridging divisions between the two parties and pushing leaders in the House, Senate and White House back to the negotiating table. When an extension of small-business loan funding was in doubt, I called for leaders of both political parties to break the stalemate and provide relief for Michigan small businesses. And I worked side by side with a Trump administration regional Small Business Administration appointee to serve the needs of 8th District businesses without regard to partisanship.
Throughout this crisis, my focus has been on the people of the 8th District: Supporting their families, helping employers keep their doors open, fighting for the front-line workers who are saving lives and keeping our communities safe and running amid an unprecedented global pandemic. Through it all I’ve been inspired by the community spirit, togetherness and decency that appears every day, in ways large and small, across our district.