News from Representative Upton

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April 28, 2020

@MyKitchenTable: Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Dear Friend:

A few notes right at the beginning:Image

  • More than 5.5 million tests have been conducted in the U.S. Quest announced they are increasing its capacity from 50K/day to 100K by the end of May and have begun serological testing equaling 250K/day; LabCorp will scale up to 200K/day by mid-May; CVS testing 35K/week and hopes to process up to 1.5 million/month subject to availability; Walgreens hopes to test more than 50K/week. Walmart estimates it can test 20K/week; Kroger plans to test 100K...
  • HHS began the distribution of an additional $20 billion of the $50 billion in CARES to Medicare facilities (like our hospitals). I learned that our district received nearly $215 million in these accelerated payments, absolutely providing our hospitals a lifeline for their employees and for the folks they serve. In a Zoom call organized by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, former OMB Director and Treasury Secretary Lew said, in his view, these payments to health providers were the highest priority of what we in Congress should do. He added that it would be risky to go back too soon and much worse if we get hit hard again as we will not be as strong economically as we are today.  He urged that we should do as much as we can now because in a few months, if it was not enough, we will be in a worse position to then confront the situation.  I would note that same message was delivered by Josh Bolton, a former Republican OMB Director who now heads the Business Roundtable.  
  • We know all states and localities have been adversely impacted by huge drops in revenues from a variety of sources—sales taxes, gas taxes, payroll taxes, etc.  I spent some phone time with our Michigan Superintendent of Schools, Michael Rice (former Kalamazoo Superintendent) describing some of the shortfalls for Michigan.  CARES did provide $30 billion for an education stabilization fund and Michigan should be eligible for $389 million which will help.  In addition, I agreed to sign a bipartisan letter today to the U.S. Treasury to help shore up the municipal bond market enabling our communities to receive much needed cash flow.  You can see that letter here.
  • I also agreed to sign another bipartisan letter to the President asking for relief for our pork producers (see that letter here). Pork futures have dropped 30% and with meat packing plants closing around the country, the food chain is threatened, prompting the president to order the Defense Production Act to ensure the operation of these facilities.  Locally, the JBS facility in Plainwell (beef) has reduced their operation and Cass County’s Indiana Tyson Food (pork) announced its closure. This looming crisis disruption impacts not only the meat supply chain but also the feed that is produced for the animals across the board for our agriculture community, which is so important in SW Michigan.  This is the time now that our farmers are making their deliberate decisions on what to plant and try to forecast what the price per bushel will bring come fall.
Lastly, I heard last night there were still major issues processing the new money in the PPP legislation helping out our small businesses.  Even though some 100K loans were processed yesterday, there were major issues troubling our smaller community banks and credit unions.  I relayed these frustrations to the Republican Whip, Steve Scalise, as well as the White House.  In fact, the ICBA (community banks) released a formal statement criticizing the rollout as “unacceptable.”  Checking with our Michigan folks tonight, I am told there are still some problems but “progress” was made.  Going back to my earlier conversation with Secretary Lew, it is programs like these that will measure our recovery down the road and protect our small businesses and their employees.  

For our inspiration tonight, remember, Helen Keller said, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows."

God bless,

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Fred Upton
Member of Congress

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