Government Matters: March 6-10 week in review

Peters named Ranking Member on Senate subcommittee overseeing U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA

“Next to our people, the Great Lakes are Michigan’s most precious resource and play a central role in our state’s economy, environment, and way of life,” said Senator Peters.


“As Ranking Member of this subcommittee, I look forward to continuing my bipartisan work to protect and preserve the Great Lakes and strengthen our economy by advancing commercial shipping, fishing and tourism industries. These efforts take on a new urgency and importance in light of reports outlining President Trump’s proposed cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other important programs — cuts that pose a threat to our Great Lakes.”


NOAA provides research, information, and services to support decisions that affect recreation, the environment, public health and safety, and the economy of the Great Lakes. Their Office of Marine Sanctuaries manages the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary to protect the unique history preserved by more than 100 discovered shipwrecks within the sanctuary while also maintaining responsible and sustainable recreational and commercial uses in the area.


As a member of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force and Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Peters has made the protection and preservation of the Great Lakes a top priority. His efforts include:

  • Co-authored legislation that was signed into law to increase federal pipeline safety and oversight by designating the Great Lakes as a high consequence area, improving oil spill response plans to address ice cover and require critical reviews of pipeline age and integrity.
  • Worked to secure authorization for a new icebreaker in the Great Lakes as part of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015. In the winter of 2014-15, ice cover on the Great Lakes contributed to an estimated 3.2 million ton decrease in cargo, costing nearly $355 million in lost revenue and 2,000 lost jobs.
  • Passed a provision requiring the USCG to conduct an assessment of oil spill response activities for cleanup in fresh water, especially under heavy ice cover.
  • Introduced the Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act to provide better federal funding opportunities, update technologies and create new research projects to benefit the Great Lakes. Despite the size of the Great Lakes and the value of the fishery, the Great Lakes science program does not have the same funding authorizations as science centers on saltwater coasts.
  • Led delegation of Great Lakes Senators in urging Department of Transportation to take a leadership role in the implementation of a first-ever regional strategy for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence maritime transportation system (MTS). Currently, the Great Lakes MTS is a major regional and national transportation asset, but is significantly under-utilized and operating at an estimated 50% of its full capacity.

Peters, colleagues urge Trump Administration to stop cuts to Coast Guard

Proposed 12 percent cut would severely restrict Coast Guard’s national, economic security operations on the Great Lakes


U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Ranking Member of the Commerce Subcommittee overseeing the U.S. Coast Guard, helped lead a bipartisan group of 23 Senators in a letter urging Office of Management and Budget Administrator Mick Mulvaney not to make a $1.3 billion dollar cut to the budget of the U.S. Coast Guard.


According to reports, the FY 2018 Presidential Budget Request could amount to almost 12 percent of the service’s budget being cut. The U.S. Coast Guard plays a critical role in protecting our Northern border along the Great Lakes, conducting counter-terrorism patrols and law enforcement operations, and ensuring the smooth flow of goods on Great Lakes year round.


The Coast Guard is responsible for patrolling 721 miles of Michigan’s northern border to protect national security and combat drug and human trafficking. In Michigan, they operate a fleet of six cutters, three air stations and two Aids to Navigation teams that support critical ice-breaking operations, conduct search and rescue missions and provide navigation support to ships on the Great Lakes.

Senators Peters, Perdue reintroduce ‘No Hero Left Untreated Act’

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and David Perdue (R-GA) have reintroduced the No Hero Left Untreated Act to enhance medical care for America’s heroes. The bipartisan legislation would create a pilot program to test an innovative treatment called Magnetic e-Resonance Therapy for veterans to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other mental health issues. Peters and Perdue are both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Peters is a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.


Sen. Gary Peters

“Veterans suffering from the devastating effects of PTSD, traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma deserve to have the best, most cutting-edge treatment available,”said Senator Peters, a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.


“Incorporating innovative new treatment options like Magnetic e-Resonance Therapy technology into VA medical centers has the potential to improve treatment for veterans and create meaningful change in their lives.”


The No Hero Left Untreated Act would establish a pilot program at two medical centers within the VA network and enroll up to 50 veterans in Magnetic EEG/ECG-Guided Resonance Therapy (MeRT) for a one-year period.

Huizenga testifies before Congress on Great Lakes economy

Congressman Bill Huizenga, Co-Chair of the U.S. House Great Lakes Task Force, testified before the House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee on the importance of properly using funds collected in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and water infrastructure across the Great Lakes. Congressman Huizenga discussed the strong bipartisan effort he has led to hold Washington accountable and make the federal government live up to its promise of dredging harbors across the Great Lakes. Huizenga also warned of the negative economic consequences including fewer jobs and fewer American products being exported should the federal government fail to live up to its obligation.

Peters urges FCC to protect Internet access for rural, high-poverty schools & libraries

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) joined his colleagues in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to protect the E-Rate Program, which ensures the neediest schools and libraries — especially those in rural and high poverty areas — have affordable Internet access. The E-Rate Program has given students across Michigan access to modern teaching tools that expand their knowledge and prepare them to enter the 21st century workforce. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s recent decision to retract a report detailing the E-Rate Program’s success has stirred concern that the new Administration will not support the vital program.


“E-Rate helps schools and libraries in every state by supporting access to modern communications and the Internet. Such access is critical if we are a country that is serious about preparing and educating our children for the digital age,” the Senators wrote.


Peters joined U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Al Franken (D-MN), Jeffery Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Bob Casey (D-PA) in signing the letter.