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W E E K L Y  U P D A T E  March 11 , 2019
 
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Great Lakes Lawmakers Address Great Lakes Day Congressional Breakfast Reception

Thirteen Members of Congress addressed a crowd of more than 120 Great Lakes stakeholders and advocates at the annual 2019 Great Lakes Day Congressional Breakfast Reception on March 7. The breakfast was co-hosted by the Northeast-Midwest Institute and the Great Lakes Commission. This year's annual breakfast gave regional leaders and Members of Congress the opportunity to present federal Great Lakes priorities for the upcoming year. Key issues that were discussed included combating invasive species like Asian carp, improving water quality, protecting drinking water, addressing harmful algal blooms like the bloom in Western Lake Erie, and increasing economic opportunities in the Great Lakes. A common theme among many of the Congressional speakers was the long history of legislators working in a bi-partisan fashion to address these major issues through programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

Speakers at the breakfast included Senate Great Lakes Task Force Co-Chair, Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI); Rep. Jack Bergman (MI-1); Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI-12); House Great Lakes Task Force Co-Chair, Rep. Sean Duffy (WI-7); Rep. Mike Gallagher (WI-8); Rep. Bob Gibbs (OH-7); House Great Lakes Task Force Co-Chair, Rep. Bill Huizenga (MI-2); Rep. David Joyce (OH-14); House Great Lakes Task Force Co-Chair, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-9); Rep. Joseph Morelle (NY-25); Rep. John Moolenaar (MI-4); Rep. Pete Stauber (MN-8); and Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-2).

For more information,  please contact  Matthew McKenna, Director of the Great Lakes Washington Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute .
President Trump Releases 2020 Budget, Proposes Massive Spending Cuts for Environmental Spending but Billions in Increased Defense Spending

This week, President Trump released the outline of his proposed $4.7 trillion dollar budget for the coming 2020 fiscal year.  More details will follow in the coming weeks when the Administration releases the rest of its budget, but the initial document envisions massive spending cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency including key programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay Program.  The proposed budget also includes massive increases in defense spending and funding for a controversial border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. 

Congress has until April 15th to put forward its own budget resolution and until September 30th to pass legislation appropriating funds.  Historically, Congress has generally taken presidential budgets into account when determining annual spending, though key Democrats have already called the proposed budget "dead on arrival," much like the last two budgets proposed by President Trump.

For more information, please contact Eric Heath, Senior Policy Counsel for the Mississippi River Basin Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
China Makes Largest Purchase of U.S. Sorghum Since Trade War Began, Trade Deal Still Proves Illusive

At the end of February, China purchased 65,000 metric tons of U.S. sorghum.  The sale follows recent bulk Chinese purchases of U.S. soybeans.  Both sorghum and soybean sales to China essentially stopped for an extended period after the trade hostilities between the U.S. and China began.  The recent transactions are seemingly a show of good faith by the Chinese government as the two economic super powers continue to negotiate a trade truce.  

Terry Branstad, the U.S. envoy to Beijing, told the Wall Street Journal in a recent interview that no meeting between President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been scheduled yet to negotiate the conclusion of any U.S.-China trade pact and nothing was currently being planned.  This news comes despite recent optimism that a deal was imminent. 

For more information, please contact Eric Heath, Senior Policy Counsel for the Mississippi River Basin Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
House Subcommittee on Environment Held a Hearing Examining PFAS Chemicals and Their Risks

The House Oversight and Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing on March 6 to examine PFOS and PFOA (often collectively known as perfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS) and their risks. The hearing also explored how the Department of Defense proposes to minimize exposure to PFAS, particularly in military communities, and assessed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) new action plan to address PFAS. The hearing began with an opening statement from subcommittee Chairman Harley Rouda (CA-48) urging the EPA, Congress, and the Department of Defense to take action and explore new ways to clean up and limit exposure to PFAS chemicals. Subcommittee Ranking Member James Comer (KY-1) spoke about the need for federal agencies to work with states and localities and on water systems where contamination may be present.

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus and Co-Chair of the Congressional PFAS Task Force, stated that "[i]naction will not make this public health crisis go away. Instead, it will only continue to compound the scale and the cost of clean-up in the future." He urged the EPA and Congress to come together and ensure that PFAS chemicals are addressed and that Americans who have been exposed to PFAS, especially military families, are given the resources they need. Rep. Kildee was joined by fellow Co-Chair of the Congressional PFAS task force, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), to testify in front of the subcommittee. Rep. Fitzpatrick urged the EPA to move swiftly, mandate a Maximum Containment Level (MCL) under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Superfund Act.

For more informati on, please con tact  Dr. Sri Vedachalam , Director of the Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
116th Congress: Committee Leadership Profiles

As the 116th Congress gets into full swing, the Northeast-Midwest Institute will profile the Chair and Ranking Member of the Congressional committees most relevant to the region. This newsletter will include the Appropriations subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies.

Rep. Sanford Bishop, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

Sanford Bishop is the U.S. Representative for Georgia's 2 nd Congressional district. Rep. Bishop has been serving as a Representative since 1993; he was recently reelected to serve his eleventh term in Congress. Rep. Bishop also served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. He currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee and on the subcommittees for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies as Chairman; Financial Services; and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies. On Rep. Bishop's website he states, "I have long supported the development and exploration of domestic energy sources which will revitalize our economy, create millions of new jobs, lower energy bills, and strengthen our national security." Rep. Bishop also wants to protect American agriculture by ensuring the Environmental Protection Agency does not place an excessive regulatory burden on farmers.

Rep. Fortenberry, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

Jeff Fortenberry is the U.S. Representative for Nebraska's 1 st  Congressional district. He has been serving as Representative since 2005 and is currently serving his eighth term in Congress. Rep. Fortenberry has also previously served as an at-large member of the Lincoln City Council in Nebraska where he worked on economic development and community revitalization. He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee. On the Committee, he serves as Ranking Member of the subcommittee for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies and he serves as a member on the subcommittee for State and Foreign Operations. On Rep. Fortenberry's website he stated that his "efforts in Congress focus on five important areas: national security and international relations; alternative energy and environmental sustainability; economic opportunity and rural vitality; patient-centered health care, and family life and culture."

For more information, please contact  Eric Heath , Senior Policy Counsel for the Mississippi River Basin Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute .
2020 Candidate Profiles: Senator Elizabeth Warren, Potential Democratic Nominee for President of the United States

Elizabeth Warren is the Senior Senator from Massachusetts; she is currently serving her second term in Congress and was elected in 2012. Previously she worked as a teacher and received a Bachelor of Science degree in both speech pathology and audiology before earning a law degree and passing the bar. Senator Warren began her career in politics as an advocate for middle-class families and is now known as one of the top consumer protection advocates in the country after spearheading the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. During the 116 th Congress, Senator Warren will serve on the Special Committee on Aging; Committee on Armed Service; Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

As reported by AXIOS, one of Senator Warren's aides announced her support for the Green New Deal: "Senator Warren has been a longtime advocate of aggressively addressing climate change and shifting toward renewables, and supports the idea of a Green New Deal to ambitiously tackle our climate crisis, economic inequality, and racial injustice." She has also received a lifetime score of 99% from the League of Conservation Voters, which is an advocacy group that provides environmental scorecards of legislators based on their voting records. Senator Warren also co-sponsored legislation with Senator Kamala Harris, called the Climate Risk Disclosure Act, which would leverage market forces to accelerate the national transition from fossil fuels to clean energy by requiring publicly traded companies to disclose critical information regarding their climate-related financial exposure.

For more information, please contact Eric Heath, Senior Policy Counsel for the Mississippi River Basin Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
This Week in Washington

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In the House:


NEMWI: Strengthening the Region that Sustains the Nation