News from Representative Upton


May 12, 2020

@MyKitchenTable: Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Dear Friend:

Thanks for the pictures today.  Our first picture is a St. Joe college freshman and his Dad working together in their kitchen.   And the second is a Portage student on a zoom with his class.  Keep your pics coming regarding your activities during these difficult times.  You can find that picture portal HERE.

ImageThe big news today of course is the unveiling of Speaker Pelosi’s $3 trillion Phase IV stimulus bill. I have not seen any of the underlying details of the 1,800 page plan but was told that we should be prepared to vote on this package on the House Floor before the end of the week.  I have a conference call later tonight with the GOP caucus.  You may recall in my Kitchen Table update last week that Speaker Pelosi participated in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus (PSC) zoom, and I told her that with ‘divided government,’ it was imperative that this next package be a bipartisan one if it was expected to be enacted into law. 

That does not appear to have happened.  

ImageHowever, she likely does have the votes to narrowly pass a bill, but its fate is uncertain at best in the Senate. I can envision a scenario where the Senate waits to see the next economic numbers in early June (don’t expect them to improve in any dramatic way) which will then prompt them to pass a much different version, though some elements will certainly follow a common thread.  Again, not knowing any of the details in today’s unveiling, the Senate bill would likely have some flexibility in the PPP allowing small businesses additional avenues for loan forgiveness if their governors have continued major social distancing (remember, it will be after Memorial Day and some thought this would be over by Easter). There may be additional stimulus checks again based on income levels, and also state and local community funding that would make up for the loss of sales tax and payroll tax revenues combined with additional COVID-19 expenses with a prohibition on pension underfunding etc. 

More on that issue later in the week as the PSC closes in on an agreement that we intend to pursue. 

  • More than 9M tests for COVID-19 have been performed in the U.S. — 347K yesterday for some 2M in the one-week period from 5/5 to 5/11.
  • The NIH released a paper explaining why a collaborative approach to developing COVID-19 vaccines is essential, and how the ACTIV public-private partnership spearheaded by NIH aims to facilitate such collaboration among governments, academic institutions, industry, and global philanthropic partners that you can see HERE.
  • CMS released data on providers and suppliers who have obtained funding from the accelerated and Advance Payment Program (this is money that is going to our hospitals based on previous Medicare/Medicaid payments to make up for the loss of normal hospital operations).  Data is broken down by state and provider types HERE.
  • FDA provided new guidance documents that aim to make the process for submitting applications to initiate studies for new drugs and biological products more efficient and outline recommendations for ways to design clinical trials to evaluate safety.  One guidance outlines a more efficient process for developers to receive agency feedback on their supporting data with the goal of starting clinical trials as soon as possible.  To date, more than 130 clinical trials of potential COVID-19 related drugs and biological products are underway with FDA oversight.  Much of this I believe can be directly attributed to the enactment of the bipartisan 21st Century Cures, which was my major work when I chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee.  You can read more about these guidelines HERE
Much of my day was spent on autos and manufacturing.  Yesterday I shared a bipartisan letter delivered to our respective Leaderships on the importance of addressing the auto sector.  Of course, across the country one in seven jobs are directly tied to the industry and here this week many of the Michigan auto suppliers began to open up in order to allow the assembly plants to begin operation next week. 

This morning I participated in a live zoom on CNBC’s Squawk Box with Michigan colleague Debbie Dingell from our respective homes that you can watch HERE.  Our approach is not a ‘bailout’ or another ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program but rather one directly driven by consumers as they would purchase durable goods with an emphasis on American-made products to get our workers back on the job.  As a member of the bipartisan Auto Caucus, we had a lengthy conference call with industry leaders listening to a grim assessment of the current state of affairs.  They are in “absolute shock” with sales likely 2-4M below what they were expected to be in 2020 only a few months ago.  Italy and Spain have seen their sales drop more than 95% this last month with the UK at 90%. 

Today’s inspiration is “Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them.” 

How appropriate for today.

God Bless,

Fred Upton

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