By Sue Moore
Congressman Fred Upton paid a visit to the Vicksburg Rotary Club instead of accepting an invitation from the President and Senator Stabenow to be in East Lansing for the signing of the Farm Bill a few weeks ago. He chronicled a litany of accomplishments the government has made since the shutdown last October saying it had been a very productive week in Washington and he didn’t need to be photographed with the President anyway.
He also declined to comment on the rumor that his niece Kate Upton was dating Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, to the delight of the larger than usual Rotary Club meeting audience.
In short order, the Congressman who represents Michigan’s 6th District, including Kalamazoo County, listed the many bills the Energy and Commerce committee which he chairs, has undertaken and passed with bi-partisan support. “There’s not a lot of legislation we don’t have jurisdiction over,” he claimed. “It’s a lot of fun.”
“There are 54 House members on my committee and we work together as we just want to get the job done, contrary to much of what is public perception of the current Congress. The 24 hour news cycle has contributed to that perception along with campaigns becoming so expensive and Super PACS being allowed to spend so much money,” he said.
In discussing the shutdown, he described how some of his colleagues helped move the fencing and chairs surrounding the World War II Memorial, so veterans coming in to visit from the Honor Flights could be allowed in. Two of those veterans that week were from Vicksburg and profiled in the January issue of this newspaper.
Listing the good pieces of legislation he has been involved in by citing the Farm Bill, the increase in hospital reimbursement levels for doctors who accept Medicare patients, the two-year budget cycle, EpiPen for peanut allergies in schools, the $12 million directed for pediatric research, the light bulbs ‘no mandate’ rider (leaving it up to the private sector), buy American provisions, and energy bills supporting nuclear power.
He raised the alarm about national security in an off-the-cuff interview right after the meeting. In discussing the attack in California in 2013 on the Metcaf electrical power facility, he said the U.S. is challenged. “I am very aware of the [daily] threats, with the classified briefings I get first hand. We have stopped many cases with tools we have now and there is a good chance 9/11 could have been prevented if they had been in place. We need to do everything we can to make sure that never happens again. The proper tools for enforcement are needed to connect the dots.”
Upton is a strong supporter of the Keystone Pipeline permitting proposal. He feels it’s a better way to get gas to market than in trucks and rail cars and improve our carbon footprint. The Enbridge pipeline safety standards have also been improved he said.
However, he lost no time in castigating the Affordable Care Act, saying it was not ready for Prime Time, instead he is a “repeal guy.”