Government Matters: Week in review, May 1-5, 2017

Senator Stabenow Statement on House Passage of American Health Care Act

By Miranda Margowsky


U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) released the following statement after the House of Representatives voted to advance the American Health Care Act:


“I’m committed to working across the aisle to lower health care costs for Michigan families and small businesses, make prescription drugs more affordable, and improve care for middle-class families. House Republicans instead passed a plan today that would raise costs for Michigan families, eliminate protections if you or a family member has a preexisting condition like cancer or a heart condition, and take us back to the days when insurance companies were in charge of your health care. I will strongly oppose this plan in the Senate.”


Peters, Grassley Reintroduce Legislation to Address Needs of At-Risk Youth

Senators Introduce Bill During National Foster Care Month


U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced they are reintroducing bipartisan legislation to help states identify and meet the needs of children who come into contact with both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, also known as dual status youth. The Childhood Outcomes Need New Efficient Community Teams (CONNECT) Act would authorize competitive grants to improve data collection on dual status youth and encourage better cooperation between state agencies overseeing juvenile justice and child welfare programs.


“Too many children are at risk of falling through the cracks because unnecessary barriers prevent the juvenile justice and child welfare systems from giving children the services they need,” said Senator Peters. “The more we know about dual status youth, the more we can do to ensure programs are available to support our most vulnerable children and give them a better chance at success. This bipartisan bill will help states collect information and tailor programs that will help at-risk youth lead happy, fruitful lives.”


The CONNECT Act authorizes grants administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help state juvenile justice and child welfare agencies collect data on dual status youths to foster a better understanding of their unique circumstances and improve coordination in the delivery of services to at-risk children.


Peters, Capito Reintroduce Bipartisan Student Loan Rehabilitation Bill

Legislation Would Allow Private Student Loan Borrowers to Remove Default from Credit History after Series of Payments


U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI) and Shelley Moore Capito (WV) have reintroduced bipartisan legislation to help private student loan borrowers who default on their loans. The Federal Adjustment in Reporting (FAIR) Student Credit Act would allow a borrower who has successfully completed a series of on-time payments to remove the student loan default from their credit report. Unlike federal student loans, there is currently no opportunity to rehabilitate private student loans, and private lenders may only request to delete information from a credit file if it was reported inaccurately.


The FAIR Student Credit Act would expand the loan rehabilitation program by giving private lenders the flexibility to make it easier for borrowers to improve their credit standing. Under current law, federal loans may be rehabilitated one time and borrowers can repair their credit, while private lenders do not have the ability to remove negative credit information on borrowers who participate in loan rehabilitation programs. Peters and Capito previously introduced this bill in the 114th Congress.


There are approximately $9.9 billion in total private student loans across the country, and according to the most recent statistics from the Consumers Financial Protection Bureau, there are more than 850,000 private student loans in default. A bad credit report can negatively impact a borrower’s attempts to gain employment, rent an apartment or purchase an automobile for years. This debt is harming our economic recovery, negatively impacting retirement savings, household spending and the demand for mortgage credit.


Federal Funding Bill Includes Stabenow’s Legislation to Reinstate Year-Round Pell Grants

By Miranda Margowski


U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) announced that the fiscal year 2017 federal appropriations bill includes her legislation to reinstate Year-Round Pell Grants for college students in Michigan and across the country. Stabenow’s bill includes provisions that will allow low and moderate income students to use Pell Grants for three semesters each academic year, rather than the current law’s limit of two semesters.


Before Congress cut Year-Round Pell Grants in 2011, over one million students across the country, including close to 35,000 in Michigan, used Pell Grants to pay for college for three semesters in an academic year. Research shows <> that students who take courses continuously over the summer were three times more likely to complete a degree.


Peters, Tillis Lead Colleagues in Letter Calling for Funding for State Veterans Homes

By Allison Green


U.S Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) led a bipartisan group of their colleagues in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies urging them to support robust funding for State
Veterans Homes that help provide long-term care to our nation’s veterans. Federal funds provided by the State Veterans Home Construction Grant Program allow states to make critical facility upgrades or construct new facilities to serve aging veteran populations. For fiscal year 2017, only 10 of the 57 highest priority projects were funded, resulting in a backlog of facilities requiring upgrades or new construction.


State Veterans Homes are facilities that are operated by state governments and partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide nursing home, domiciliary, and adult day care services to veterans with special medical needs, including thousands of elderly veterans.


Michigan has two State Veterans Homes in Grand Rapids and Marquette that serve about 500 Michigan veterans. The State of Michigan recently announced plans to construct new homes in Grand Rapids, the Detroit metro area, the Flint/Saginaw/Bay City region, the Jackson and Battle Creek area, Marquette, Northern Michigan and Southeastern Michigan.

You can download the letter here.


Stabenow Statement on Bipartisan Effort to Protect Great Lakes Funding in Fiscal Year 2017 Funding Bill


U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, released the following statement on her bipartisan efforts to stop President Trump’s proposed $50 million cut in Great Lakes funding in the Fiscal Year 2017 funding bill:

“I am pleased to have successfully led the bipartisan effort to stop President Trump from cutting $50 million in Great Lakes funding this year. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has always received bipartisan support and is absolutely critical to supporting Michigan jobs and protecting our Great Lakes, including fishing, boating, hunting and stopping invasive species. As Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, I will continue working with my colleagues across the aisle to make sure President Trump’s plan to completely eliminate Great Lakes funding next year is stopped.”