I recently wrote this article for the local newspapers in our district to give their readers an update on what I've worked on for constituents during the past 12 months. However, if you have not seen it in your local paper, I wanted to take this opportunity to share it directly with you.
Serving Constituents and Looking Ahead
By Congressman John Moolenaar
These past 12 months have been far from normal, but my team and I have been working hard to help every Fourth District resident we can. Whether they were affected by the pandemic, the flooding, or another hardship, we helped more than 4,000 residents when they needed assistance with a federal agency. This included reclaiming more than $5 million owed to residents by the federal government for late income tax refunds, delayed Social Security checks, and missed Economic Impact Payments. We also helped flood-affected residents connect with FEMA, and small business owners receive information about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) they used to pay their employees and keep the lights on.
As always, we were also dedicated to providing the best service possible for veterans in the Fourth District. We assisted hundreds of men and women who served our nation, reclaiming more than $700,000 in VA benefits for them and their families. We also helped them recover honorary medals that were lost or never sent to them by the Defense Department when they left the service. My team and I will always do whatever we can to help whenever someone is having an issue with a federal agency, including Social Security, the IRS, Medicare, and the VA. These agencies directly impact people across the Fourth District, and we will always try to help however we can.
This past year has been very challenging for everyone in Michigan, and we are thankful for the heroic first responders, doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals who have risen to the challenge to take care of the sick. The pandemic has also created new problems, including social isolation, an increase in mental health issues, prescription drug overdoses, and suicides. There has also been economic uncertainty for workers, as well as struggles for parents and students who have had to deal with remote learning.
All of this uncertainty last year is why I supported broad, bipartisan relief packages that provided direct relief for Michigan families, small businesses, and health care providers. I also supported the creation of Operation Warp Speed, the historic vaccine development program that helped the development of life-saving vaccines in less than a year. A year later, there is still a trillion dollars left over from the funding Congress approved last year. This funding has not been spent and it should have been used to help Michigan residents who are still struggling.
Recently, I voted for the Crush the Virus Act, which would provide more money for vaccine distribution, along with $7 billion in funding for rural hospitals, and $3 billion to support those suffering from mental health or substance abuse problems reignited by state restrictions. I also recently voted to extend the deadline for PPP applications, so small businesses can access the funding that is still available from the legislation I supported last year. Unfortunately, Democrats passed a much more expensive bill where only one percent of funding went toward funding the vaccine distribution that will end the pandemic.^ There was also a liberal bailout for states for reckless financial decisions made before the pandemic and no requirement for schools to actually use the money to reopen for in-person instruction and help students who have struggled. A staggering ninety-five percent of that funding will not even be used this year to re-open schools.^
Nationwide, vaccines are increasingly available each day, cases have fallen dramatically, and the number of people who are hospitalized has fallen below where it was last summer. The most vulnerable people in the country are now protected from the virus, and there has been a surge in seniors booking flights to visit family members they have not seen in a long time.
The best thing we can do now to responsibly jumpstart the recovery from the pandemic is continue distributing vaccines for all who want it, re-open schools, and let hardworking Michigan residents safely go back to work. Also, if you need help with a federal agency, please call my office at 989-631-2552, or go online at Moolenaar.House.Gov.
Congressman John Moolenaar represents Michigan’s Fourth Congressional District, which is all of Clare, Clinton, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Mecosta, Midland, Missaukee, Ogemaw, Osceola, Roscommon, Shiawassee, and Wexford counties, and parts of Montcalm and Saginaw counties.^https://gop-waysandmeans.house.gov/brady-democrats-political-payoff-leaves-americans-behind-and-sends-them-the-bill/