Annual Legislative Report

2014 Legislative Report

Every year, Senator Levin prepares a report summarizing his key legislative activities. You can jump to a topic below by clicking on the link.

Fighting for Workers and Consumers, and Promoting Corporate Responsibility
Creating Jobs, Getting Our Economy Back on Track, and Expanding Economic Opportunities for Working Families
Keeping Our Families Healthy and Safe
Fighting for a Fair Tax System and Ending Corporate Loopholes
Protecting the Great Lakes and the Environment
Educating Our Children
Improving Michigan Roads and Transportation Systems
Keeping America Strong
Reforming Government

Fighting for Workers and Consumers and Promoting Corporate Responsibility

FIGHTING FOR WORKERS AND CONSUMERS

Fighting for Fair Trade and a Level Playing Field for U.S. Manufacturing.  Continued to fight for the fair treatment of U.S. goods in overseas markets. With Japan a part of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, and given its history of protectionism and one-way auto trade, continued taking an aggressive approach to opening Japan’s automotive market to U.S. autos and auto parts.

  • Urged the inclusion of currency manipulation as an enforceable commitment in the Trans Pacific Partnership.
  • Continued to urge the administration to press China to comply with the market opening commitments it made when joining the World Trade Organization, particularly regarding automotive manufacturers’ ability to participate fully in the Chinese market; its commitment to reduce China’s currency manipulation; the rampant intellectual property theft that occurs in China; and China’s unfair auto parts trade practices. 
  • Weighed in on behalf of U.S. companies pursuing anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations against foreign nations’ unfair exports to the United States.

Protecting American Intellectual Property and Proprietary Information. Authored  bipartisan legislation, which was enacted into law, to deter the theft of American intellectual property and proprietary information in cyberspace. The legislation requires the president to develop a report that includes a watch list and a priority watch list of foreign countries that engage in economic or industrial espionage against the United States in cyberspace, and under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act allows the president to freeze the assets of foreign companies that have been determined to have knowingly benefited from the theft of U.S. technology or proprietary information stolen in cyberspace.

Safeguarding Data Privacy in Online Advertising. As chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, held a hearing and released a bipartisan report examining how current online advertising practices expose online consumers to hidden hazards, including data breaches, malware attacks and other cybercrimes. The investigation disclosed that host websites often do not and cannot know which intermediary advertising networks will deliver advertisements to consumers visiting their sites, exposing consumers to unmanaged risks. The investigation also disclosed that host websites often operate under voluntary compliance regimes or contractual arrangements that are ineffective, unreliable or poorly enforced. Urged the Federal Trade Commission to strengthen consumer protections against online advertising abuses. 

Combating income inequality. Continued to push for measures that would increase worker pay and combat growing income inequality by cosponsoring two pieces of legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10, the Fair Minimum Wage Act and the Minimum Wage Fairness Act.

Fighting for equal pay for equal work. Continued to fight for equal and fair pay for equal work by again cosponsoring all versions of the Paycheck Fairness Act in the 113th Congress and voting in support of multiple efforts to move the bill forward in the Senate.

PROMOTING CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY

Exposing Wall Street Bank Involvement with Physical Commodities. As chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, held a hearing and released a bipartisan report exposing how Wall Street banks exercise extensive control over physical commodities and related businesses. Provided case studies of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan involvement with physical commodity activities including warehousing aluminum and other metals, trading uranium, running coal mines, operating oil and gas storage and pipeline facilities, and controlling power plants. Urged action on a Federal Reserve rulemaking to impose new safeguards to reduce the mixing of banking and commerce, catastrophic event risks, and market manipulation and unfair trading abuses that could distort commodity markets and lead to consumers and businesses paying higher and more volatile energy, critical material and other commodity prices.    

Exposing Conflicts of Interest in U.S. Stock Markets. As chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, held a hearing exposing conflicts of interest affecting how stock brokers place trading orders in U.S. stock markets, including for high-speed traders. The conflicts arise from millions of dollars in opaque payments to brokers in order to attract client orders including “payments for order flow” made by wholesale brokers to retail brokers and so-called “maker-taker” rebates and fees paid by trading venues to broker dealers, both of which create incentives for brokers to put their financial interests before those of their clients, fueling public distrust of U.S. stock markets.

Advocating Transparency for Corporations with Hidden Owners. Continued to combat practices in the United States and elsewhere allowing the formation of corporations with hidden owners. Right now, U.S. states establish nearly two million corporations each year without asking who is behind them, allowing terrorists, money launderers, tax evaders and others to misuse the corporate structure. Promoted legislation with Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa to require states to obtain the names of a corporation’s true owners while opposing a proposed federal rule that would allow banks to obtain the names of a corporation’s employees or representatives rather than the true owners when opening corporate accounts.

Leading Fight to Stop U.S. Corporations from Moving their Mailboxes Overseas to Avoid Taxes. Led effort to have the Department of Treasury issue regulations to deter companies from claiming a foreign address to avoid paying U.S. taxes. In September 2014, in response to letters led by Sen. Levin and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the U.S. Treasury and the IRS issued a notice of a new regulation to stop “hopscotch loans,” “cash boxes” and other abusive tactics, resulting in a significant decrease in tax inversions.  Sen. Levin, along with Rep. Sandy Levin in the House, also introduced legislation that would stop corporate inversions by fully eliminating the tax benefits for U.S. corporations moving their addresses abroad.  

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Creating Jobs, Getting Our Economy Back on Track and Expanding Economic Opportunities for Working Families

Promoting Alternative Fuel Vehicle Choice. Co-authored bipartisan legislation, which was enacted into law, to incentivize the production and use of natural gas vehicles. Encouraging the production of natural gas vehicles will help diversify our transportation supply while reducing carbon emissions and our reliance on imported oil. 

Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. Worked with the Michigan delegation, congressional appropriators and the Obama administration to secure funding for FY 2015 for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University. MSU is now the home of the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, currently the most advanced rare isotope accelerator in the United States and the largest nuclear science facility on a university campus. FRIB will put Michigan at the forefront of cutting-edge research that can lead to advances in everything from medicine to national security to energy and ensure our nation’s leadership in this critical field of science.

Fighting to Increase Funding for Existing SBA Programs. Strongly advocated for continued funding for the Small Business Administration Micro-loan Program, a vital source of financial and technical support to entrepreneurs and small businesses in Michigan and other states.  

Secured funding for the SBA Intermediary Lending Program. Helped secure funding for SBA’s Intermediary Lending Program in FY 2015. The Intermediary Lending Program provides funding to nonprofit intermediary lenders to make small to mid-sized loans to small businesses.

Fighting for the Domestic Automotive Industry. Co-chaired the Senate Auto Caucus with Senator Rob Portman of Ohio. Provided a forum for senators to exchange ideas and work to improve policy on issues affecting America’s auto industry, such as trade, transportation and technology. 

Detroit Riverfront and Mt. Elliott Park. Helped secure more than $32 million for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to rehabilitate and open up the Detroit riverfront for public access and recreation. Of that funding, $14.5 million was used to renovate Mt. Elliott Park into a family-friendly destination, which includes a universally accessible splash pad and other interactive features, fishing piers, winding walkways, LED lighting, restrooms and a café. Participated in the grand opening of Mt. Elliott Park on June 6, 2014.

Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy. Helped secure $3.8 million for the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, which is using a portion of the funding to offer small business mini-grants of up to $50,000 in the Corktown area of Detroit. Two recipients, the UFO Factory and Detroit Tough Gym, opened for business in 2014. Between the two, a federal investment of $63,600 has been leveraged with $260,000 in private investment. The Conservancy expects several more Corktown small businesses receiving mini-grants to open within the next year.

Theodore Levin Courthouse Renovation. Worked with the Michigan congressional delegation and federal officials to secure $30 million for Phase I of a three-phase renovation of the Theodore Levin Courthouse in Detroit. The courthouse currently suffers from water leaks, electrical failures, elevator outages, and is out of compliance with current safety standards. It has long been the top federal building project in the region.

Berglund Farms. Supported Berglund Farms Working Bugs LLC’s application to USDA Rural Development for the development of environmentally friendly solvents for the home and workplace. Berglund Farms received a $200,000 value added producer grant.

Protecting Native Lands. Joined Sen. Debbie Stabenow in sponsoring legislation that ratified and affirmed federal recognition of land taken into trust for the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe. The president signed this legislation into law (P.L.113-179).

Regional Prosperity Initiative. Supported the following organizations’ 2014 Regional Prosperity Initiative applications submitted to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget:

  • Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning Development Commission awarded $155,330.
  • Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission awarded $159,000.
  • Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission awarded $250,000.

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Keeping Our Families Healthy and Safe

HEALTH CARE

“Doc Fix.” Supported legislative efforts to pass a year-long “doc fix” bill to ensure Medicare doctors didn’t receive a drastic cut in their reimbursements.

National Institutes of Health. Successfully fought to restore needed funding to the National Institutes of Health that was cut due to sequestration by advocating that Senate appropriators maintain a strong commitment to funding for long-term health research.

Nutrition Assistance Programs. Successfully fought to restore critical funding for senior nutrition assistance programs in the Older Americans Act, such as Meals on Wheels.

Community Health Centers. Supported successful efforts to increase funding for Community Health Centers, which provide comprehensive, quality health care services to medically underserved communities and vulnerable populations.

Wayne County Healthy Communities. Worked with stakeholders to successfully resolve a number of long-standing issues and facilitate Medicare accreditation for the Hamtramck-based Wayne County Healthy Communities Federally Qualified Health Center.

Beaumont Hospital System. Joined with other members of the Michigan congressional delegation in support of Beaumont Hospital System’s successful effort to gain expedited consideration for their application to the IRS for non-profit designation. This in turn helped to facilitate Beaumont’s successful merger.

Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. Supported the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute’s application to retain their designation as one of the 41 National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the country.

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and Michigan Cancer Consortium. Helped to resolve an issue and facilitate expedited NCI-review of a Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) grant application from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital as part of the Michigan Cancer Consortium. The NCORP program supports funding for cancer trials in Michigan and across the country. Their application received a perfect score, securing funding for the oncology research program in the future.

Michigan Department of Community Health. Supported federal grant applications by the Michigan Department of Community Health to the:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the Biomonitoring of Great Lakes Populations. New funding was not available, but it allowed MDCH to continue using funding – a no-cost extension – from the 2012 award, which was $1,013,051.
  • Department of Health and Human Services to protect residents from chemical exposure at sites around the state. Their focus will be on sites listed on the Superfund National Priorities list, state of Michigan lead sites, and incidents of chemical fires, explosions or other releases. MDCH received $440,581 in a cooperative agreement.
  • Department of Health and Human Services for the Michigan Tracking Network, a project to track potential environmental health risks like contaminants. MDCH received $624,940.

OPIOID ADDICTION EPIDEMIC

Expanding Access to Effective Treatment for Addiction to Heroin and Opioid Prescription Medications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States is facing the worst opioid addiction epidemic in our history. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health commissioned by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that of the 22.5 million Americans age 12 or older, who abused or were dependent on heroin or other opioids in 2012, less than one million received medication-assisted treatment.

Under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000, authored by Sen. Levin and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, it is legal for certified physicians to prescribe certain anti-addiction Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medication in their private offices. The FDA approved the use of buprenorphine (bupe) for this purpose in 2002. Ongoing efforts have been underway to identify the impediments that have prevented wider use of this highly successful office-based treatment:

  • Convened a Senate forum on June 18, 2014, along with Sen. Hatch to hear from medical professionals, agency heads and patients on effectiveness of treatment using bupe and to explore ways in which expanded access could be achieved.  Findings and recommendations by the panel of experts are currently under review by SAMHSA, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and the CDC under the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Presented remarks before the September 23, 2014, SAMHSA/National Institute on Drug Abuse Buprenorphine Summit on challenges, goals and objectives in meeting the opioid addiction treatment demand.
  • Convened one-on-one meetings on the opioid use epidemic with HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, SAMHSA Administration Pamela Hyde, and Office of National Drug Control Policy Acting Director Michael Botticelli.
  • Wrote to Department of Defense Health Affairs on August 21, 2014, urging the extension of medication assistance treatment to individual outpatient (office-based) providers in the TRICARE network. Currently, DOD permits such services, including the use of bupe, in military treatment facilities and TRICARE-authorized Substance Use Disorder Rehabilitation Facilities.
  • Convened meeting with the leadership of the National Association of Community Health Centers to discuss the progress of effective medication-assisted treatment and to ensure it is accessible to those who seek treatment for their addiction to opioids at the 1,300 community health centers that are operating in 9,200 delivery sites.
  • Conducted Michigan-wide email survey and meetings with physicians certified to prescribe bupe, which revealed many treatment success stories but also the frustration of many physicians who must turn away potential patients because they have reached the 100-patient cap.  Some maintain waiting lists.

Upper Peninsula Drug Education Summit. Sponsored an all-day summit, “Meth and Opioid Drug Education,” on Sept. 16, 2014, at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. Made possible through a collaborative partnership with local, county, state and federal officials and agencies, nearly 270 people attended the summit to hear from the experts assembled to discuss a wide-range of substance abuse topics. The September event was the fourth drug-related educational program in the Upper Peninsula offered by Sen. Levin’s Escanaba office.

SAFETY

Emergency Fire Equipment. Helped secure millions of dollars in funding for fire departments throughout Michigan for training, firefighting equipment, protective gear, and prevention programs that keep our citizens safe. These grants will assist fire departments across Michigan.

Disaster Relief for Southeast Michigan Following Historic Rainfall and Flooding.  Joined with 12 members of the Michigan congressional delegation to write President Obama urging him to issue a Presidential Disaster Declaration in three Michigan counties impacted by severe storms and flooding on August 11-13, 2014. On September 25, 2014, the president granted the disaster declaration, which made federal funds available to affected individuals and businesses in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties to support cleanup and rebuilding. As of early December 2014, FEMA has awarded more than $134 million in direct assistance to those affected by this disaster.

Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.  Supported the successful grant application by the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office for $640,790 to purchase three new patrol boats through the FEMA Port Security Grant Program. These funds, combined with a 25% county contribution, will allow the county to replace three aging vessels in the Macomb County Marine Division’s fleet. The marine division patrols Lake St. Clair’s approximately 85 square miles, 30 miles of shoreline, 57 miles of connected rivers and streams, and international border with Canada.

HOUSING AND RECREATION

Chevy in the Hole. Supported the partnership between the Genesee County Land Bank and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to continue the process of removing hazardous substances from Chevy in the Hole. This year, the EPA awarded the Genesee County Land Bank a $1.9 million grant that will be used to plant trees throughout the 60-acre site and to create walking paths. The grant will help complete the second phase of the plan to clean up the former GM property and transform it into a public park called Chevy Commons.

Women’s Center in Marquette and Alger Counties. Supported grant application for the Women’s Center, which received a $300,000 Transitional Supportive Housing grant from the Michigan Department of Human Services. The funds will help the Women’s Center continue to provide transitional and supportive services to victims of violence in Marquette and Alger counties.

VETERANS

Responding to the VA Scandal.In response to allegations that VA staff falsified patient waitlist data in Arizona, Sen. Levin compiled his own data on the average wait times for Michigan veterans and visited VA installations around the state. Sent a letter to Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson asking why some Michigan VAs had been flagged “for further review and investigation” and used the data as part of the Senate’s legislative response to the VA’s national issues.

Reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs.Supported the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, which President Obama signed into law on August 7, 2014. This law provides the VA with approximately $16.3 billion to, among other things, allow the VA to hire more doctors and health care practitioners and also to allow veterans who live 40 miles or more from a VA facility, or veterans for whom the VA cannot arrange an appointment within established VA wait time goals, to seek health care at private health care facilities with VA reimbursement.

Assisting our Nation’s Veterans. Helped secure a $26 million grant for the Detroit Transportation Department to help buy 50 new buses and connect people with jobs, training and vital services. The program focuses on expanding transit bus service to help connect disadvantaged and low-income individuals, veterans, seniors, youths and others with jobs, local workforce training, employment centers and health care.

Supportive Services for Veteran Families. Supported grant application for Alger-Marquette Community Action Board (AMCAB), which received a $475,695 Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant from the National Center on Homelessness among Veterans. AMCAB will use the funds to serve veterans and their families in all 15 rural Upper Peninsula counties. The grant will provide supportive services and case management and will help veterans secure stable housing.

JUSTICE AND CIVIL RIGHTS

Judicial Confirmations.Assisted in securing Senate confirmation of four talented and well-qualified judges to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit: Judge Mathew Leitman, Judge Judith Levy, Judge Laurie Michelson and Judge Linda Parker. An independent screening committee formed by Sen. Levin and Sen. Stabenow recommended these judges, who will now serve the people of the Eastern District of Michigan for many years to come.

Kettering University – Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program. Supported Kettering University’s grant application for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program­ – a $1 million dollar grant awarded as a part of the Obama administration’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. The grant will be disbursed over three years to help researchers and community partners develop strategies to help prevent crime and create a safer University Avenue corridor.

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Fighting for a Fair Tax System and Ending Corporate Loopholes

Exposing Offshore Profit Shifting. As chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, held a hearing and released a report exposing how Caterpillar Inc., an American manufacturer of heavy equipment, shifted $8 billion in profits from its foreign parts business – a business run primarily from the United States – to a Swiss affiliate to avoid paying $2.4 billion in U.S. taxes to date. The case history showed that Caterpillar paid more than $55 million to develop and implement its offshore tax strategy and switched from reporting 85% or more of its foreign parts profits on its U.S. tax return to reporting those same profits on its Swiss tax return at a negotiated effective Swiss tax rate of 4% to 6%. Caterpillar’s actions provided additional evidence of the need to close unjustified U.S. corporate tax loopholes that enable profitable corporations to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

Cracking Down on Tax Haven Banks.As chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, held a hearing and released a bipartisan report examining how tax haven banks have helped U.S. clients evade U.S. taxes by providing secret offshore accounts. Presented a case history of Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second largest bank, which opened Swiss accounts for more than 22,000 U.S. customers with assets of up to $10 billion, the vast majority of which were hidden from U.S. authorities. The investigation also criticized the U.S. Department of Justice for failing to use U.S. legal tools, such as grand jury subpoenas and John Doe summonses, to obtain the names of U.S. tax evaders with hidden Credit Suisse accounts, and for moving so slowly to collect unpaid taxes and hold accountable the tax evaders, banks and bankers involved. Hiding similar offshore bank accounts was made more difficult in 2014, as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), inspired by past Levin hearings on hidden offshore accounts, took effect in July.

Exposing Abusive Tax Scheme Involving Basket Options. As chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, held a hearing and released a bipartisan report exposing how, from 1999 through 2013, two global banks used a structured financial product known as a basket option to help more than a dozen hedge funds dodge limits on trading with borrowed money, earn huge trading profits, and claim those profits qualified for the lower long-term capital gains tax rate, even for trades that lasted seconds. One hedge fund, Renaissance Technology Corp., used this scheme to avoid paying taxes estimated at more than $6 billion. Urged review of the tax schemes and circumvention of the limits on trading with borrowed funds, which introduces hidden risks into the U.S. financial system.

Disclosing Limited Tax Audits of Large Partnerships. As chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, commissioned and released, along with other senators, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report disclosing that the IRS audits less than 1% of large partnerships per year, even as the number and assets of such partnerships have more than tripled. GAO found that in 2012 just 0.8% of large partnerships, defined as having $100 million or more in assets and 100 or more direct and indirect partners, underwent an IRS audit versus 27% of traditional C corporations. The low audit rate for large partnerships, including hedge funds, energy exploration firms and private equity funds, makes it difficult to detect abusive tax practices and underpayment of U.S. taxes.  

Examining Management Failures in Processing 501(c) (4) Applications. As chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released a majority staff report and over 1,700 pages of documents from the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) examining problems with how the IRS processed applications for tax exempt status under Section 501(c) (4) of the tax code.  The report concluded that the IRS used inappropriate selection criteria, burdensome questions and lengthy delays in processing 501(c) (4) applications from both conservative and liberal groups. The report also found that while the TIGTA audit had ‘found no evidence of political bias’ by the IRS in processing those applications, TIGTA’s failure to include that finding in its audit report led to its report being misconstrued and misused to unfairly accuse the IRS of political bias against conservative groups. Also supported an IRS rulemaking to ensure 501(c) (4) social welfare groups do not engage primarily in campaign activities. 

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Protecting the Great Lakes and the Environment

THE GREAT LAKES

Cleaning Up Great Lakes Toxics. Helped secure funding for the Great Lakes Legacy Act to remove contaminants at Great Lakes “Areas of Concern.” Six AOCs in Michigan are now on track for an expedited cleanup schedule: River Raisin, White Lake, Deer Lake, Manistique River, St. Clair River, and St. Marys River.

Protecting Against Aquatic Invasive Species. Worked to include a provision in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which became law on June 10, 2014, that authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers to implement emergency measures to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from dispersing into the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River basin.

Improving the Great Lakes Navigation System. Led efforts to include several provisions in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which became law on June 10, 2014, to direct more funding to dredging and other maintenance requirements of Great Lakes harbors and channels:

  • Increases spending for harbor maintenance so that it is more in line with the fees collected for maintaining our nation’s navigation infrastructure. This provision makes progress toward Sen. Levin’s Harbor Maintenance Act, S. 218, to increase harbor maintenance funding.
  • Prioritizes the Great Lakes for increased funds through a specific set-aside of 10 percent. 
  • Authorizes the Great Lakes as a single navigation system, recognizing the interconnectedness of its 140 harbor projects. 

Securing Funding for Great Lakes Dredging. Helped secure an additional $25 million in fiscal year 2014 funding for Great Lakes navigation projects including funding to help address the backlog of dredging projects in the Great Lakes. This funding was provided in response to a February 7, 2014, letter led by Sen. Levin to allocate additional funding for Great Lakes harbor maintenance from the $200 million in national funding provided in the FY2014 omnibus appropriations bill.

Redevelopment of Harbor at Great Lakes Maritime Academy at Northwestern Michigan College. The Great Lakes Maritime Academy at Northwestern Michigan College is one of six state maritime academies in the country and the only one on freshwater. For almost ten years, NMC has been working with the Army Corps of Engineers under their Section 107 Small Navigation Project authorization to complete the redevelopment of their harbor on West Grand Traverse Bay. Since 2008, Sen. Levin has secured priority funding for this project three times in the Energy and Water appropriations bills. As a result, the Army Corps of Engineers completed construction in the summer of 2014 on this $2.4 million dollar project. 

HISTORIC AND NATURAL RESOURCE PRESERVATION 

MotorCities National Heritage Area. Succesfully included language that extends authority for the MotorCities National Heritage Area in a bipartisan public lands package. MotorCities NHA spans 16 Michigan counties and includes more than 1,200 historic sites and other resources related to the state’s automotive heritage. Authority for federal funding to support the national heritage area expired on October 1, 2014. The bill will extend the heritage area’s eligibility for federal funding through fiscal year 2021.

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Successfully urged the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to administratively expand the boundaries of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which will help improve the sanctuary and protect more historic shipwrecks. On September 5, 2014, the final rule to expand the sanctuary was published in the Federal Register. 

Boardman River Restoration. Helped secure over $1.5 million in funding for the Boardman River Dams Restoration Project, which will restore more than 160 miles of free-flowing streams and hundreds of acres of surrounding habitat, improving the region’s ecosystem and contributing to an increase in recreational tourism and the regional economy.

Successful Lighthouse Transfer. Assisted Alpena Township and Thunder Bay Island Preservation Society in the process of transferring ownership of the Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse from the federal government to Alpena Township. The transfer ceremony in October 2014 marks the completion of a process begun in the mid-1990s to ensure that this historic structure is maintained for many generations into the future.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act.  Sponsored legislation, signed into law on March 13, 2014, that preserves more than 32,000 acres of Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as wilderness while providing important access to the lakeshore’s recreational opportunities and cultural resources.  

River Raisin National Battlefield Park. Urged the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to allocate almost $5 million to the River Raisin National Battlefield Park in Monroe. This funding will enable the acquisition of adjacent land, expanding access to the battlefield from downtown Monroe and other recreational facilities.

ENERGY ASSISTANCE

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Worked with other senators to push for full funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

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Educating Our Children

STARBASE. Supported $25 million to continue the STARBASE program and an assessment of various science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs. STARBASE, a STEM program run by the Department of Defense for elementary school students, is designed to excite students about STEM topics through exposure to the technological foundations of national security. STARBASE currently operates 76 locations in 40 states. Michigan has three DOD STARBASE programs: Selfridge Air National Guard Base (ANGB) in Harrison Township, where the program originated in 1991; Kellogg ANGB in Battle Creek; and Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center in Alpena.

IMPACT AID.  Supported $25 million in impact aid for assistance to local educational agencies impacted by the enrollment of dependent children of military members and DOD civilian employees, and $5 million in impact aid for schools with large numbers of children of military members and DOD civilian employees with severe disabilities. 

Center for Language Education and Research (CLEAR). Supported Michigan State University’s application to the Department of Education for continued funding for their Center for Language Education and Research, which promotes and supports foreign language education through outreach activities and university projects. MSU received $165,582 from the Department of Education.

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Improving Michigan Roads and Transportation Systems

M-1 Rail. Advocated for the successful award of $12.2 million under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) to the M-1 Rail streetcar project in Detroit. This 3.31-mile project, which broke ground in July 2014, will link some of the Detroit region’s most visited venues and be a catalyst for economic development in Detroit’s core business district. The project enjoys considerable support from the business community as the federal dollars will be leveraged with over $100 million in private and philanthropic contributions.

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Keeping America Strong

SUPPORT FOR AMERICAN MILITARY AT HOME AND AROUND THE WORLD

Equipment and Support for Troops in Afghanistan in Iraq. Played a leading role in the enactment of provisions that:

  • Fully fund the budget request for U.S. military operations overseas, including in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Authorize the full request of $4.1 billion for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF) to build and sustain the Afghan forces in securing Afghanistan as U.S. and coalition forces shift to the post-2014 train, advise and assist mission.
  • Extend or modify a number of authorities relating to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, including:
  • Authorizing the use of DOD funds to provide logistical support to transport and sustain our coalition partners in Afghanistan and Iraq;
  • Authorizing the loan of personnel protection equipment to coalition partners participating in contingency operations with the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere; and
  • Authorizing up to $250 million through the end of fiscal 2016 to conduct clearance of unexploded ordnance at closed former U.S. training ranges in Afghanistan.
  • Authorized up to $1.2 billion in Coalition Support Funds to reimburse key nations for support provided to U.S. coalition operations overseas, of which up to $1 billion may be used to reimburse Pakistan for its support to U.S. military operations in Afghanistan if certain certifications relating to U.S.-Pakistan cooperation and Pakistani military operations in North Waziristan are met.
  • Permanently codify the DOD “section 1206” train and equip authority for building the capacity of foreign security forces to conduct counterterrorism operations and participate in allied and coalition operations, including in Afghanistan.
  • Authorized the secretary of defense to provide assistance to appropriately vetted members of the Syrian opposition.
  •  Extend the authority for support of special operations to combat terrorism, known as “Section 1208,” through fiscal year 2017 and increases the annual cap on the authority from $50 million to $75 million.
  • Add $10.9 million to help address technology gaps identified by USSOCOM on its fleet of MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Reassuring Allies and Partners in Europe.  Played a leading role in the enactment of provisions that:

  • Authorize a total of $1 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding for the European Reassurance Initiative to reassure allies and partner nations by enhancing the U.S. military presence in Europe, increasing training and exercises, and building partner capacity to respond to security threats, including no less than $75 million for activities and assistance to support Ukraine and $30 million for assistance to allies and partner nations. 
  • Require a review of U.S. and NATO force posture, readiness and contingency plans in Europe in light of Russian aggression against Ukraine and the submittal of a comprehensive strategy and plans for enhancing security and stability in Europe. 
  • Express the sense of Congress in support of the provision of defensive military assistance to Ukraine, including both nonlethal and lethal aid, and requires reporting on military assistance to Ukraine.

Support for Military Personnel and Their Families.  Played a leading role in the enactment of provisions that sustain pay and benefits and provide support for military personnel and their families by:

  •  Providing fair pay raises to service members and ensuring the continued authorization of over 40 types of special and incentive pays and bonuses to ensure continued recruitment and retention of the very best individuals for military service.
  • Authorizing the payment of the Survivor Benefit Plan annuity to a special needs trust for disabled dependent children of service members and retirees.
  • Requiring the Department of Defense to carry out a program to enable members of the Armed Forces to obtain certain professional credentials while they are serving that relate to training and skills acquired during military service.

Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. Played a leading role in the enactment of numerous provisions to strengthen and improve prevention and response to sexual assaults in the military including eliminating the “good soldier” defense, giving victims a voice in whether their case is prosecuted in military or civilian courts, giving victims the right to challenge court-martial rulings that violate their legal rights at the Court of Criminal Appeals, and strengthening the psychotherapist-patient privilege.

Cyber Security. Played a key role in enactment of provisions that:

  • Require the secretary of defense to establish procedures for designating contractors as “operationally critical contractors,” notifying such contractors that they have been designated, and requiring designated contractors to report successful penetrations of their computer networks by known or suspected advanced persistent threat actors.  An operationally critical contractor is a company designated by the secretary as a critical source of supply for airlift, sealift, intermodal transportation services or logistical support that is essential to mobilization, deployment or sustainment in a contingency operation.
  • Require the president to provide annual reporting on nations that engage in economic or industrial espionage through cyberspace and provides authority for imposing sanctions on persons determined to be knowingly engaged in such espionage.

Cooperative Threat Reduction. Played a key role in enactment of provisions that authorized $365.1 million to continue the activities of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program to help secure loose nuclear, chemical and biological matters around the world.  This program was responsible for helping to destroy the Syrian chemical stockpile this year.

IMPROVED MANAGEMENT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Learning Lessons from Failed Air Force Contract. As chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released a bipartisan report on an investigation led by Sen. John McCain of Arizona into the Air Force’s Expeditionary Combat Support System, a $1 billion failed effort to form a unified logistics and supply-chain management system to track all Air Force physical assets from airplanes to fuel to spare parts. Following the program’s cancellation in 2012, the report analyzed the factors that led to the failure, including a lack of leadership and cultural resistance to adopting best practices in Air Force procurements.  

Promoting DOD Acquisition Reform. As chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released a bipartisan compendium of 31 essays by a variety of defense acquisition experts on next steps in Department of Defense acquisition reform.  

National Commission on the Future of the Army. Played a key role in enactment of an NDAA provision that creates a commission to study the size and force structure of the Army, including active-duty forces, the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, and freezes Army end strength at the fiscal year 2015 budget request levels. The bill allows the Army to transfer up to 48 Apache helicopters from the Army National Guard to the regular Army beginning in fiscal year 2016.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles. Created incentives for alternative dual-fuel vehicles and directed the DOD and Department of Energy to report on options to incentivize the development of alternative fuel vehicle refueling stations to include electric, fuel cell and compressed natural gas vehicles on DOD property.

Improving Missile Defense Acquisition. Played a key role in the enactment of a National Defense Authorization Act provision that would require the Department of Defense to follow the “fly before you buy” approach to missile defense acquisition by ensuring adequate testing and demonstrating successful performance of missile defense systems before making final production decisions or deploying them operationally. This would help prevent repeating rushed deployment of missile defense systems in the future.

Restoring Readiness.  Played a key role in the enactment of funding items that:

  • Slow the growth of military personnel costs to move toward a defense budget that provides sufficient funding to address readiness deficits in a fiscal environment constrained by sequestration-level budgets.
  • Add $381.2 million for the Army (active, National Guard and Reserve) for depot maintenance, facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization and two combat training center rotations for the National Guard.
  • Add $369.8 million for the Navy (active and Reserve) for ship and aircraft depot maintenance and facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization.
  • Add $188.8 million for the Air Force (active, Reserve and Air National Guard) for depot maintenance and facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization.
  • Add $66.5 million for the Marine Corps (active and Reserve) for depot maintenance, crisis response operations, and facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization.
  • Add $12.7 million for the Procurement Technical Assistance Program.
  • Add $5 million to the historically-underfunded DOD Corrosion Program.
  • Add $36.4 million to support aircrew training hours, U.S. Special Operations Command’s (USSOCOM) top unfunded readiness requirement and $20 million for high priority unit readiness training, which was also identified by the USSOCOM Commander as an unfunded readiness requirement.

Other DOD Oversight Initiatives. Played a key role in the enactment of provisions that:

  • Cut $445 million based on lower than planned average civilian personnel end strength for fiscal year 2015.
  • Cut $220.9 million for foreign currency fluctuation adjustments.
  • Cut $80.6 million for the Office of Economic Adjustment for projects related to the transfer of Marines to Guam.
  • Cut $48.4 million in operation and maintenance for classified programs.
  • Cut $20 million in Army ammunition procurement accounts.
  • Cut $13.8 million in Army National Guard advertising.
  • Cut $10 million in the Joint Chiefs of Staff headquarters for unjustified growth.
  • Cut $9.1 million for the Marine Corps National Museum expansion.
  • Cut $8 million in travel budgets.
  • Cut $4.8 million in DOD-wide operation and maintenance funding for BRAC planning.
  • Cut $4.3 million in DOD support of international sporting competitions due to under execution.
  • Cut $4 million in the DOD Rewards Program for under execution.
  • Cut $3.1 million in the Office of Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness for unjustified growth.
  • Cuts $2.6 million in the Office of Secretary of Defense for Policy for unjustified growth.

Environmental Cleanup. Played a key role in the enactment of a provision that authorizes the Department of Defense to remove unexploded ordnances from tourist areas in Culebra, Puerto Rico.

Management of POW/MIA Accounting Community. Played a key role in the enactment of legislation that will create a new defense agency to oversee the management of the Prisoner-of-War/Missing in Action Accounting Community, addressing years of bureaucratic and management challenges.

Post-Ferguson Review of DOD Program to Equip Law Enforcement Agencies with Surplus Military Equipment.  After the Ferguson, Missouri, shooting, requested reviews by Department of Defense and Department of Justice of the DOD 1033 program to supply surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies. The Defense Department response indicated a need to improve oversight and increase involvement by Department of Justice. Justice Department views were incorporated into the White House review released on December 1, 2014, which will result in recommendations to improve oversight and implementation of the program. Led effort in National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference to exclude House provisions that would expand the DOD 1033 program. 

MICHIGAN-RELATED DEFENSE PROVISIONS

A-10 Aircraft. Played a key role in enactment of an NDAA provision to reverse the Air Force’s proposal to begin retiring its fleet of A-10 aircraft in fiscal year 2015. Selfridge ANGB in Harrison Township is home to 21 A-10 aircraft. 

Selfridge ANGB Military Construction. Supported $35.1 million for replacement of the fuel distribution facilities at Selfridge ANGB. The rapid refueling of wide-bodied and fighter aircraft is essential to support contingency operations, training-sortie turnarounds, and aircraft missions at Selfridge ANGB. Without this project, the base would be hampered by delays in refueling wide-bodied aircraft.

Battle Creek ANGB Military Construction. Supported $6 million for the beddown of an MQ-9 Remote Split Operations unit at Battle Creek ANGB. The installation requires a properly sized and configured facility to support this new mission.

M1 Abrams Tank Modernization. Helped secure $357 million, including $120 million above the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget request, for M1 Abrams tank modernization efforts. General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights is the prime contractor for the Abrams program and more than 200 Michigan companies serve as suppliers.

Improved Recovery Vehicle. Helped secure $126.4 million, including $75.9 million above the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget request, for the M88A2 Improved Recovery Vehicle to accelerate modernization of Army equipment and mitigate the risk of lost capability and capacity in the armored and tactical vehicle industrial base. This program is important to BAE, L-3, and other military vehicle suppliers around Michigan.

Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Helped secure $144.5 million, including $37 million above the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget request, for upgrade of M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles to manage risk in the armored vehicle industrial base. This program is important to BAE, L-3, and other military vehicle suppliers around Michigan.

Stryker Vehicle. Helped secure $474.8 million including $50 million above the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget request for the Army’s Stryker double-v hull (DVH) vehicle. Additional funds will help the Army accelerate production to create a fourth DVH Stryker brigade. General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights is the prime contractor for the Stryker program and more than 200 Michigan companies serve as suppliers.  

Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles. Helped secure $145.6 million, including $50 million above the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget request, for the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV). Meritor of Troy, AAR Mobility of Cadillac, and a number of other Michigan companies are involved in the production of FMTVs.

Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles. Helped secure $78.4 million, including $50 million above the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget request, for the Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles.  Detroit Diesel manufactures and supplies the engine for this program.

Tomahawk Missile. Helped secure $321.8 million, including $82 million above the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget request, for the Tomahawk cruise missile. Williams International in Walled Lake manufactures the engines for these missiles.

Littoral Combat Ship. Supported continued construction of the littoral combat ship (LCS), including $1.4 billion for the program in fiscal year 2015 as requested in the president’s budget. Marinette Marine, just across the Michigan border in Wisconsin, is one of two shipyards building LCS and employs several hundred Michigan residents and relies on many Michigan suppliers. In October 2014, Sen. Levin and his wife, Barbara, the ship’s sponsor, participated in the christening ceremony for USS Detroit, the newest LCS being built at Marinette Marine.

U.S. Army Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center. Helped secure $182.9 million for TARDEC. TARDEC is DOD’s leading laboratory for research and development of advanced military vehicle technologies, including efforts to protect Army vehicles against rocket propelled grenades, improvised explosive devices and explosively formed projectiles; advanced materials for tactical vehicle armor; more efficient engines; fuel cell and hybrid electric vehicles; unmanned ground vehicles; computer simulations for vehicle design and training of Army personnel; and technology partnerships with the automotive industry.

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Supported continuation of Army and Marine Corps technology development plans leading to a competition for a new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle that could replace a large number of older, less survivable High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles that have been in service since the 1980s. This program is important to General Dynamics Land Systems, BAE and other automotive and military vehicle suppliers in Sterling Heights and around Michigan.

Next Generation Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Supported $49.2 million for a next generation infantry fighting vehicle. General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE, both of Sterling Heights, are contractors that have been involved in this technology development program.

Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle. Supported $92.4 million for continued development of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV). AMPV will replace the M113 armored personnel carriers in the Army's armored brigades. This program is supported by BAE, L-3, and other military vehicle suppliers around Michigan.

Next Generation Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Supported $49.2 million for a next generation infantry fighting vehicle. General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE, both of Sterling Heights, are contractors that have been involved in this technology development program.

Department of Defense Rapid Innovation Program. Helped secure $75 million to continue the Rapid Innovation Program (RIP). The RIP was established by the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 as a competitive, merit-based program designed to fund innovative technologies, reduce acquisition or life cycle costs, address technical risks, improve the timeliness of test and evaluation outcomes, and rapidly insert technologies needed to meet critical national security needs. Funding for the RIP could provide significant opportunities for Michigan companies, universities and other organizations to further research and development efforts with the DOD.

DOD Laboratory Hiring. Authorized DOD laboratories, including TARDEC, to rapidly hire qualified STEM students into research and engineering jobs working on designing and developing advanced military technologies.

MICHIGAN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

The American Lightweight Metals Manufacturing Institute (ALMMII).Led the efforts of the Michigan congressional delegation to support a Detroit-based bid to establish a Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation (LM3I) Institute in Southeast Michigan. The Department of Defense selected the Michigan bid, ALMMII, as the winning group in February 2014 at the conclusion of a rigorous competitive bidding process. Now headquartered in the heart of Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, ALMMII brings together outstanding industries, universities, workforce development organizations, community colleges and other nonprofit organizations. This partnership will provide cutting-edge and affordable innovations in the critical area of lightweight and models manufacturing, promoting American competitiveness and enhancing our nation’s defense and economic capabilities. ALMMII will receive $70 million in federal investment over the next five years, combined with $78 million from the states of Michigan and Ohio and other public and private partners. It is projected to bring 10,000 jobs, mostly in high-skilled manufacturing fields, to the region.

Niowave. Supported Niowave’s Small Business Innovative Research program grant application to the Department of Homeland Security for a portable high intensity X-ray source based on a 10 MeV superconducting linear accelerator, which would allow for the rapid scanning of cargo. Niowave received $150,000 from DHS.

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Reforming Government

Fighting for Transparency at Postal Service. Requested Government Accountability Office and Postal Inspector General reports on postal processing facility closures in Michigan, and called for the Postal Service to provide public notification of local impact of closing postal processing facilities, as required by law. As a result of reports and congressional requests, the Postal Service agreed to provide the public with notice of local impact of processing center closing prior to closure.