“President Biden knows what the drill is. To get something done, he’s going to need Republicans.”

By on January 25, 2021 in Featured News, News

Upton, McClain & Meijer Discuss Challenges Facing America & the Prospect of Bipartisan Cooperation in the Coming Year 

WASHINGTON, DC — With the 46th President inaugurated and the 117th Congress officially underway, The Ripon Society held a virtual discussion this past Thursday with three Members of the U.S. House from Michigan, who shared their thoughts on some of the key challenges facing America and the prospect of bipartisan cooperation in the coming year.

The Members were U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (MI-6), U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain (MI-10), and U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (MI-3). McClain and Meijer are the two newest members of the Michigan state delegation, having been elected this past November, while Upton is beginning his 18th term in office, and — as the longest serving member of the House from the Wolverine State — is the delegation’s dean.

Upton kicked off the discussion by talking about the new President and the role he played in passing the 21st Century Cures Act, the landmark law Upton helped author which was enacted in 2016 and modernized the way vaccines and other lifesaving drugs are developed and brought into use.

“Joe Biden had a lot to do with it,” the veteran lawmaker said of the legislation. “We included the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot initiative as part of it. I was in the Senate chamber when the bill passed. One of our ideas was to have Biden in the chair at the time. And he literally wept as that bill passed. I’ve got the pen hanging here in my office. It is a remarkable achievement in bipartisanship. And I think that’s sort of my message here. The only way you’re going to get things done is if you work together.”

“President Biden knows what the drill is. To get something done, he’s going to need Republicans. We’ve got a lot of good ideas on our side, as well as areas in which we disagree with him. For example, I don’t like what he did on the XL Pipeline in terms of the Executive Order. The COVID package will be huge. I don’t know how it’s going to shake out. I think the liability protections have to be in there, particularly for small businesses, for anything to move.”

“A good number of the Problem Solvers, I think on the Democratic side, would support the liability protections. And if we can force a level playing field on the amendments — in other words, no gotcha Amendments — then I think we can do something, probably not in the neighborhood of $1.9 trillion, but we’ll see where it goes. We’ve got a strong economy, and thank God we’ve got the vaccine that’s getting out there.”

The dean of the Michigan delegation then introduced and turned the virtual floor over to the delegation’s two newest members, beginning with McClain, who opened her remarks by talking about her background in business and the fact that this is the first elective office she has ever held.

“I am a political outsider,” she stated. “I’ve never been in politics. I spent the last 30-plus years building a business from the ground up and raising my family. I’ve always been political, but I’ve never been in the political scene and if I could go back and do things differently, that’s one of the things — I wish I would have gotten involved sooner. But I am here now, and I think my real life experience bodes very well for me in Congress.”

“I come to Congress with a practical, logical, reasonable approach. I like to say I’m the commonsense member and I have a lot to learn and I think I can learn from people who I don’t necessarily agree with. I believe that’s the beauty of our country and of this body. I was doing an interview the other day and they asked me how it was in Congress. Is it really spiteful? And I said, you know, if we could remove the TV cameras, I honestly and truly believe we are a lot more alike than we are apart.”

“The majority of people who I’ve met with agree that the name on the front of our jersey says ‘United States of America’ and that is where we need to start from. We are all on the same team, and I believe we all have the ultimate goal of moving America forward and making progress — not perfection, but progress. That’s where I intend to keep my vision and my focus on. What do we do as a governing body to move our great country forward? I’m excited. I’m humbled. I’m privileged to be sitting in the 117th Congress. And I look forward to working with everyone.”

Meijer spoke next, opening his remarks by talking about the time he spent in uniform, and the non-traditional but service-oriented path he followed which led to his current role on Capitol Hill.

“My background is in the military and in humanitarian aid and disaster response,” he stated. “I have a very nonlinear path that has led me here, but after I was deployed to Iraq doing intelligence work, I spent time in the veterans community — both on the educational advocacy side as Chairman of the Board of Student Veterans of America, and as a volunteer with a group called Team Rubicon that mobilized military veterans to respond to natural disasters around the world.

“From refugee missions in South Sudan to New York after hurricane Sandy to Oklahoma after tornadoes to the Philippines after typhoon Haiyan in 2013, I saw how a small group of dedicated individuals can really make a difference. After that, I spent a few years in Afghanistan as a safety and security advisor for the non-governmental organization community over there.”

In addition to his experience in the military and humanitarian aid, Meijer noted that, like McClain, he also has a background in business — one that shapes his approach to serving in Congress today.

“On both sides of my family,” he said, “there are family-owned, privately-held businesses that invest in the long term, aren’t just worried about quarterly earnings reports, and are focused on what we are going to do to make sure that — whether it is five, ten, or fifty years from now — we are still going strong.

“It’s really that approach blended with the bipartisan spirit of the predecessors who have held this seat before me — whether it is Jerry Ford or Paul Henry or Vern Ehlers. It’s their legacy and that tradition that I hope to uphold. It means standing strong for conservative values, but it also means recognizing that in order to be effective and get something done, you have to be willing to work across the aisle.”

“I’m proud to be joining Fred on the Problem Solvers Caucus in the 117th Congress. In order to get some significant things accomplished, it is going to require a bipartisan spirit. I’m excited about the opportunities that I believe exist on infrastructure and climate policy, and think there are some common sense, middle-of-the-road solutions that could be very impactful.

“But ultimately, we need to get through the pandemic first. We need to make sure that the vaccine distribution is occurring as rapidly as possible, and that we are supporting our small businesses and our economy more broadly to get through to the other side of that.”

Following their remarks, the three Representatives from Michigan were asked a number of questions, including one about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, and how the rollout was being handled in their home state.

Upton spoke first.

“We’re not getting the vaccines fast enough,” he stated bluntly. “The distribution in Michigan has actually been pretty sorry. I think we were in the bottom six two weeks ago in terms of distribution versus what had arrived. So they’ve got to do a better job. It’s going to happen. It’s just so slow.”

Meijer agreed.

“I think it’s incumbent on us to show that we’re doing everything we can at the federal level to speed up the vaccination delivery,” he said. “I’ve been talking to a number of hospital executives and healthcare providers and state and local officials and asking them, ‘Where are the roadblocks? How do we clear those roadblocks?’ To me, that’s one of my pivotal jobs right now — to find out if there’s anything we can be doing to help and get those shots into peoples’ arms.”

McClain sounded a similar note, but added that Congress also needed to be focused on reopening the economy, as well.

“We’ve got to do a better job on distribution,” she stated. “But I’m also hearing in my district that we’ve got to open the state up. Jobs and the economy is the number one issue that I’m hearing about in terms of people who are losing their businesses and can’t pay their bills.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people. 

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