Annual Legislative Report
2006 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.
Detroit Riverfront Revitalization Project. Helped direct $40 million for the revitalization of the Detroit Riverfront shoreline. These funds will be used to develop land on the East Riverfront, continuing the development of an extensive greenway system that will link the East Riverfront Greenway System with the planned Southwest Michigan Greenway System. The East Riverfront is vital to linking neighborhoods to their riverfront. These funds will also free up funds that can be used to acquire land on the West Riverfront.
Advanced Technology Program. Authored a budget amendment adopted by the Senate to fund the Department of Commerce Advanced Technology Program (ATP) at $140 million in FY 2007, restoring funding that the President had zeroed out. The ATP is a cost-sharing program that promotes the development of new, innovative products that are made and developed in the United States , helping American companies compete against their foreign competitors and contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy. Organized a letter to appropriators urging them to fund the program at $140 million in fiscal year 2007.
Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program. Helped secure a funding level of $106 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program to fund the national MEP network. The MEP program co-funds a nationwide system of manufacturing support centers to assist small and mid-sized manufacturers modernize in order to compete in a demanding marketplace by providing technical assistance and helping small firms boost productivity, streamline operations, integrate new technologies and lower costs. MEP projects have resulted in $1.9 billion of cost savings, $8.7 billion of sales and more than 104,000 manufacturing jobs. As manufacturers face increasing pressure from the global economy, improved efficiency and competitiveness are essential if we expect to retain jobs here in the United States. MEP is one of the few federal programs that provide tangible assistance to American manufacturers to help them retain and create jobs.
Intermediary Lending Program. Authored the Small Business Intermediary Lending Pilot Program passed by the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee to establish a program to make long-term, low-interest loans through Community Development Corporations to small businesses that have outgrown SBA's Microloan program but are unable to qualify for conventional bank loans.
Fighting for Fair Trade and a Level Playing Field for U.S. Manufacturing. As co-chairman of the Senate Auto Caucus and Senate Auto Parts Task Force, Senator Levin pressed the Administration to take strong measures to persuade China, Japan and other trading partners to end the practice of undervaluing their currencies, which makes their exports less expensive and puts U.S. workers and exports at a disadvantage; and cosponsored legislation aimed at stopping China's currency manipulation. He urged the Administration to press China to adhere to the market opening commitments it made when joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), particularly regarding automotive manufacturers' ability to fully participate in the Chinese automotive market and reducing the rampant intellectual property theft that occurs in China. He also joined the Michigan congressional delegation in urging the Administration to focus WTO negotiations on removing non-tariff barriers in the automobile sector.
Korea Free Trade Agreement. Organized a Senate Auto Parts Task Force letter to the President raising concerns that a free trade agreement under negotiation with Korea risks failing to open Korea's historically protected automotive market to U.S. autos and auto parts if it follows the same format of the previous two failed U.S.-Korea automotive agreements. Urged the Administration to seek measurable market opening progress before negotiating away U.S. auto and auto parts tariffs in order to gain true market access for U.S. automotive exports.
Combating Auto Parts Piracy. Testified on the serious problem of Chinese auto parts piracy before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission and urged the enforcement U.S. anti-counterfeiting laws.
Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms. Worked to increase funding in fiscal year 2007 to $16 million from the $13 million secured for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Firms program in the fiscal year 2006 C ommerce, Justice, Science Senate appropriations bill. The TAA for Firms program assists hundreds of mostly small and medium-sized manufacturing and agricultural companies that experience loss of jobs and sales because of foreign imports. Qualifying companies receive technical assistance in areas such as marketing, financing, production, product development, distribution, management information systems and exporting. Since 1999, the program has helped to retain or create over 48,039 jobs in communities and increased sales at participating companies by $6.2 billion. The TAA for Firms program serving the Great Lakes region is located at the University of Michigan.
Ensuring Diversity of Energy Supply. Worked with other senators to ensure passage of legislation to increase the supply of natural gas in the United States. Tight natural gas supply and the increasing costs of natural gas over the last six years have had a significant impact on consumers and on U.S. manufacturing. U.S. natural gas prices have been the highest in the industrialized world, resulting in both high costs for consumers and unbearable costs for U.S. manufacturers that have forced companies to move manufacturing operations offshore. More than two million manufacturing jobs have been lost to overseas operations in the last five years. Increasing our natural gas supply will help to stem that tide.
Minimum Wage Alternative. Voted against a bill that would have cut wages for workers in several states with minimum wages higher than the federal minimum wage.
Helping Michigan Companies Get the Refunds They Deserve. Authored four provisions enacted into law that will help three Michigan companies receive refunds they are owed from U.S. Customs and exempt tariff payments on products not available from a domestic source but necessary for the final U.S. manufactured products.
Monitoring Human Rights Abuses and the Rule of Law in China. As a Commissioner on the Congressional Executive Commission on China, voted on annual reports that documented and made recommendations regarding China's human rights violations.
Federal Recognition of the Grand River Band. Persuaded the Indian Affairs Committee to hold a hearing on legislation that would help facilitate the federal recognition of the Grand River Band of Ottawa Indians.
Stem Cell Research. Voted in favor of legislation that passed Congress to expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research that could lead to cures for hundreds of diseases.
Improving the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. Sponsored legislation to make changes to Medicare Part D including Medicare price negotiation, limiting altering of drug formularies and encouraging private company prescription drug assistance.
Medicare Choice. Cosponsored legislation that would give every Medicare beneficiary the option of the standard Medicare Part D drug benefit.
Environmental Health. Cosponsored legislation that would mandate the study of the adverse impact of environmental health particularly on minority communities.
Health Care for Small Businesses. Cosponsored legislation for a pilot program to assist small businesses with the costs associated with health care premiums.
Making Enrollment in Medicare Part D Easier. Cosponsored legislation to postpone the enrollment penalty fee for Medicare Part D as well as making it easier to change plans during the year.
Improving Rural Health Care. Cosponsored a bill that makes a number of improvements to Medicare reimbursement to rural providers including doctors and physicians.
Protecting Children in Our Schools. Cosponsored legislation that makes it easier for schools to provide mandatory Medicaid coverage to special needs children in our schools.
Protecting Retiree Health Care. Cosponsored legislation that would provide additional tax credits to employers for providing retiree health care coverage.
Community Health Centers. Cosponsored the bill that would reauthorize appropriations for our nation's community health centers.
Drug Reimportation. Voted for an amendment to an appropriations bill allowing for individuals to reimport prescription drugs into the United States from Canada . This amendment was adopted by the Senate by a 68-32 vote and the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act was signed into law on October 4, 2006. The amendment allows individuals to personally bring into the United States a 90-day supply of their own prescription medication. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration now has the discretion to allow mail orders of prescription drugs.
Treatment for Heroin Addiction. Sponsored successful bipartisan Senate symposium highlighting the findings of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report on the success of the Hatch-Levin Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000, which created a revolutionary new method and treatment for combating heroin addiction using a medication called buprenorphine for the first time in an office-based setting. Co-authored bipartisan Hatch-Levin law, which more than triples the number of patients who may be treated by qualified physicians from 30 to 100 patients per physician.
Protecting America's Children from Shaken Baby Syndrome. Original cosponsor of a resolution designating the third week in April 2006 as “National Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness Week.”
Protecting America's Children from Lead Poisoning. Original cosponsor of a resolution designating the week of October 23, 2006, through October 27, 2006, as “National Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.”
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.
THE GREAT LAKES
Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration. Worked to reauthorize the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act. The new act reauthorizes the existing state and tribal grant program, authorizes new authority for the Fish and Wildlife Service to undertake regional restoration projects with guidance from states and tribes, and authorizes the FWS to maintain a website to report actions taken under this act. The new act doubles the existing authorization from $8 million to $16 million.
Navigation. Helped secure passage of an amendment to current tax law in order to allow Great Lakes domestic shipping to qualify for an alternative tonnage tax rather than pay the corporate income tax from operations in foreign trade. The measure will help ships operating in the Great Lakes to stay competitive.
State and Local Air Quality Management Program. Joined in sending a letter supporting $220 million in funding for this program, which provides grants to states, territories and local agencies to operate air pollution control programs. Such control programs include monitoring air quality, developing and planning control options, permitting and inspecting sources, enforcing laws, and educating the public. The funding also helps state and local efforts to implement the National Ambient Air Quality Standards stipulated by the EPA.
NATURAL RESOURCE PRESERVATION
Stopping Canadian Trash Imports. Secured Senate passage of legislation that would stop the importation of Canadian waste if the Department of Homeland Security cannot show that the methodologies and technologies used to screen municipal solid waste imported into the United States for the presence of chemical, nuclear, biological and radiological weapons are as effective as those used to screen for such materials in other items of commerce entering the United States by commercial vehicle. Passage of this legislation put pressure on the Canadians to do something about their trash problem. In August 2006, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment agreed to stop shipments of Ontario's municipally-managed waste by 2010. The trash shipments from the Canadian municipalities will be reduced by 20 percent by the end of 2007, by 40 percent by the end of 2008, and will be eliminated altogether by the end of 2010. Under this agreement, 2.78 million metric tons (or 3.06 million tons) of Ontario's garbage that would have been shipped into Michigan between now and 2010 will no longer come into our state.
Support of Conservation Easements and Land Preservation. Worked to protect the charitable contribution value of donating land and conservation easements for farmland and open space preservation. These resources benefit all of us, preserving ecological resources, our natural heritage, and providing land for people to recreate. The Pension Protection Act, which was signed into law on August 17, 2006, expanded the tax benefits of conservation easements by allowing the taxpayer to deduct 50 percent of the value of a conservation easement (and for farmers and ranchers, this amount is increased to 100 percent), and increased the carry-forward provision from five years to 15 years.
Land and Water Conservation Fund. Joined in sending a letter supporting $100 million in funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund stateside grants program, which funds open space protection and the construction of parks, playing fields and trails.
North American Wetlands Conservation. Joined in sending a letter supporting funding for this program, which protects, restores and manages wetland habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.
Investing in Existing Communities and Protecting Open Space. Introduced an amendment to the fiscal year 2007 budget that expresses the Sense of the Senate to encourage land use decisions that make efficient and equitable use of available housing, transportation and infrastructure investments. Well-planned development also minimizes impacts on traffic congestion, air quality, ecologically significant areas and public health.
United National Environment Program. Joined in sending a letter supporting $15 million for this program, which coordinates and promotes protection of the global environment. The program helps developing countries implement international agreements covering issues such as combating ozone depletion and eliminating persistent organic chemicals.
ENDANGERED SPECIES PROTECTION
State Wildlife Grant Program. Joined in sending a letter supporting $85 million in funding that will be used to protect important wildlife species. Early intervention could prevent these species from being endangered, and thereby save taxpayers the cost of saving them from the threat of extinction.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program. Joined in sending a letter supporting a $20 million funding increase for this program, which protects and helps to recover endangered and threatened plants and animals.
Multinational Species Conservation Fund. Joined in sending a letter supporting funding to assist with control of illegal poaching, smuggling, logging, unauthorized hunting, and other practices that threaten the survival of wild species throughout the world.
Cosponsor of Legislation to Designate an “Endangered Species Day” to encourage Americans to learn more about threats to species and how endangered and threatened species are being recovered. The resolution would encourage schools to teach students about threats to, and the restoration of, endangered species around the world, and to help make Americans more aware of connections between habitat preservation, species recovery, and the links among different types of species and human activities.
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Programs. Worked with other senators to secure funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs such as weatherization assistance, the state energy program and the Energy Star program.
Advanced Vehicle Technology
• Secured $5.2 million for initiation of a program for research, development and demonstration of solid hydrogen storage technologies. This funding will initiate a new merit-based research initiative in fiscal year 2007 to look at solid hydrogen storage systems that would weigh less and take up less volume, allowing vehicles to safely carry more hydrogen, increasing driving range and reducing refueling frequency and cost. Issues to be addressed include development of materials to maximize storage potential, improving the ability to charge and recharge the solid storage systems with hydrogen quickly after use, devising hydrogen release systems that can extract hydrogen from a solid storage system into fuel cells in a controlled, repeatable manner, and making the entire storage systems cost-effective relative to other storage systems or more traditional engine technologies.
• Secured $4.55 million for the vehicle fuel cell program. Senator Levin initiated this program in 2002 to coordinate fuel cell activities throughout the military and to focus specifically on vehicle fuel cell technologies. This program develops and demonstrates vehicle propulsion technologies and fuel cell auxiliary power units in military settings. The program continually evaluates new technologies in fuel cells, fuel reforming, hydrogen storage and generation, and battlefield electric power in an effort to solve military problems with fuel cells and allied technologies. The U.S. Army's Detroit Arsenal participates in this merit-based Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) program.
• Secured $4.0 million for the research and development of an advanced mobile gas-to-liquid fueler. This funding will pay for the development of mobile systems that can convert waste to fuel for use in mobile power grids and vehicles, continuing the advanced mobile microgrid project that was initiated in fiscal year 2005 by the Army working with NextEnergy Center in Detroit , Selfridge Air National Guard Base and industry partners. Waste-to-fuel systems both reduce the amount of fuel that troops need to transport into combat zones and enhance the ability to rapidly deploy forces.
• Secured $3.9 million for research, development and demonstration of ground support equipment powered by proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell systems to meet Army requirements. This funding will initiate the next phase of a program begun in fiscal year 2005 to evaluate prototype PEM fuel cell systems against DOD requirements and operating conditions. In fiscal year 2007, the project partners will use the testing and demonstration data gathered previously to improve prototype fuel cell technology and will deliver next-generation fuel cell units for evaluation in a large-scale field trial program. Project partners include Ballard Power Systems, Kettering University, Macomb Community College, Selfridge National Air Guard Base and the U.S. Air Force.
• Secured $3.9 million for a project to optimize the use of fuel cell technology to support the continuity of operations in the event of a terrorist attack or other catastrophic event. Under this project, the DOD will work jointly with industry to develop fuel cell systems that meet the unique power requirements of the small and dispersed satellite locations which would house critical functions of government and military during an emergency. Selfridge Air National Guard Base and other facilities will conduct the testing, evaluation and demonstration of these prototype units.
• Secured $1.95 million to continue the research and development of an advanced vehicle propulsion system. Funding for the next generation non-tactical vehicle propulsion system will allow the Army to continue the initiative begun last year to provide early demonstrations of fuel cell technology in commercially-based vehicles and evaluate the technologies against military requirements.
• Secured $1.9 million for the Hydrogen Logistics Fuel Initiative, established in fiscal year 2006 at the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). The purpose of this program is to establish an oversight structure and focal point within DOD to monitor technology and policy developments in the area of hydrogen, and to develop a comprehensive and integrated strategy, plan for the appropriate use of hydrogen and acquisition of hydrogen to meet those DOD requirements for the future, and make appropriate technology development investments to those requirements. A significant focus will be on the development of a DOD hydrogen strategy and roadmap and a pilot demonstration of hydrogen refueling infrastructure.
• Secured $1.3 million for the research and development on solid oxide fuel cell materials and manufacturing technology. This funding will allow the Army to begin development of the materials and manufacturing processes necessary for a reliable and cost-effective fuel cell system that can be compatible with existing Army logistics fuels. Delphi Corporation and Kettering University in Flint have extensive experience in this field.
• $3.25 million for tactical vehicle technology demonstrator truck. The Army is in the process of developing a new generation of light- and medium-duty tactical trucks. General Purpose Vehicles of New Haven has a longstanding relationship with the Army and has been working with the Detroit Arsenal's Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support on similar issues for the past several years.
• $3.0 million to continue the development of an advanced thermal management system to increase engine efficiency for Army vehicles. Engineered Machined Products in Escanaba has partnered with TARDEC in the development of these systems.
• $1.5 million for new integrated drive train systems for military trucks. The integrated drive train systems will address limitations and poor vehicle responsiveness in rugged terrain and loss of stability in high-speed operations. Eaton Corporation, which has several Michigan facilities, has developed advanced mobility and safety technology that can potentially prevent accidents and rollovers.
• $1.3 million for tactical vehicle design tools. This research would continue the development of a computer-based tool that would assist in the design of future Army tactical vehicles. This program will further develop computer aided engineering design tools. These tools are now being used on several major military programs including the Army's Future Combat Systems and the Navy's DD(X). Thermoanalytics of Calumet has worked with TARDEC on comparable research efforts for several years.
• $1.0 million for the development of lightweight wheels for military combat vehicles. This project will increase the lifespan and reduce the infrared signature of wheels on combat vehicles and will be led by GS Engineering of Houghton.
• $1.0 million for the development of a silicon carbide ceramic matrix composite brake. Composite brake material will reduce the weight and increase the durability of combat vehicle brakes. Composite brake material also holds the promise of reducing the temperature buildup allowing the sealed enclosure of the brake system to prevent dirt and sand from degrading wear life. Greening Testing Labs of Detroit is a leader in the development of composite brake materials.
• $1.0 million to continue fundamental research on the effects of low temperature environments on the performance of Army vehicles and other military equipment. Wayne State University has been working with the Army for over 20 years in addressing these issues for military systems.
Energy Research and Development
• $10.4 million for continued development of solar cells on flexible substrates for space applications. New technology based on amorphous silicon materials has the potential to produce solar arrays that are ten times cheaper and three to five times lighter than current solar arrays. Energy Conversion Devices of Troy has been working with the Air Force on this project.
• $3.25 million to continue the development of a portable power source for the Special Operations Command. Currently, Special Operations soldiers are expected to carry hundreds of pounds of non-rechargeable batteries. The development of a portable and renewable power source is critical to enhancing their mission performance. Adaptive Materials of Ann Arbor has worked with the military on the development of this type of equipment.
• $3.0 million to develop a 12-screw ring extruder for manufacturing fuel cell technology , which Century 3+ L.L.C., of Traverse City has developed. The 12-screw ring extruder could increase the quality and speed of manufacture of various plastic components in fuel cells.
• $6.5 million for an Unmanned Ground Vehicle Development Initiative. The Unmanned Ground Vehicle Initiative (UGVI) will be implemented by the ground vehicle experts at the Tank Automotive and Armament Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). This funding will be used for integrating and demonstrating sensor technologies, perception hardware and software, and robotic control technologies that are required to enable unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) systems to maneuver with minimal human intervention, for on- and off-road missions while at militarily significant speeds. Mature technologies are incorporated in UGV technology demonstrators so that performance can be evaluated for multiple tactical and sustainment applications. Technical challenges addressed should include obstacle avoidance, perception limitations, intelligent situational behaviors, command and control, frequency of human intervention, and operations in adverse weather. Funding for this project will be executed by TARDEC.
PARKS, FORESTS and MUSEUMS
River Raisin Battlefield. Introduced and secured passage of “The River Raisin National Battlefield Study Act,” which would authorize a study to determine the suitability and feasibility of including a battlefield site in Monroe, Michigan, into the National Park System. This site is the location of the Battle of the River Raisin, a fierce struggle during the War of 1812 in which hundreds of American soldiers were killed by the British and their allies.
National Park Service – Operations. Joined in sending a letter supporting adequate funding for operation of National Parks, including funding for repair and rehabilitation, maintenance, resource protection and visitor services.
National Park Service – Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. Led effort with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to request funding for this small, yet extremely effective, technical assistance program, which helps restore rivers, preserves open spaces, and develops trail and greenway networks. The final letter sent to appropriators was signed by 22 senators.
North Country Trail. Cosponsored legislation that would authorize the federal government to acquire land, with the consent of landowners, for nine federal trail systems, including the North Country Trail. Led effort and secured support of eight senators to support funding for the North Country National Scenic Trail.
EPA's Brownfields Program. Led an effort with Senators Jim Jeffords (I-VT) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) to request full funding of $250 million for EPA's Brownfields Program. A total of 29 senators signed onto this letter. This EPA program provides states and communities with grants to conduct environmental assessments and cleanup of brownfields sites, properties where redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. Since 1995, EPA's Brownfields Program has leveraged more than $6.5 billion from both the private and public sectors to facilitate successful brownfields cleanup and redevelopment projects. Approximately 25,000 new jobs have been created through these projects. In Michigan , this program has been used to cleanup and redevelop numerous properties, creating jobs, building the local tax base and revitalizing communities.
HUD's Brownfields Program. Introduced the Brownfields Redevelopment Enhancement Act, which would provide local governments with increased accessibility to HUD's Brownfields Economic Development Initiative (BEDI) grants by allowing grants to be provided to communities independent from Section 108 loan guarantees and the related pledge of community development block grants. The bill also authorizes BEDI as a separate program within HUD and authorizes $50 million annually for BEDI. The bill has been endorsed by major organizations such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals, the National Association of Development Organizations, and Associated General Contractors of America, the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, the National Association of Home Builders, the Real Estate Roundtable, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, and the Environmental Bankers Association.
Historic Lighthouse Eligibility for Federal Surplus Property. Authored language signed into law as part of the GSA Modernization Act to add nonprofit organizations that care for lighthouses to the list of eligible recipients of federal surplus property. With this change, nonprofit organizations that own or lease decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard lighthouses will be eligible to obtain surplus federal government property.
Working to Return Fresnel Lens to Presque Isle Light. Introduced legislation with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to have the historic Fresnel lens returned to the lantern room atop the Presque Isle Light Station Lighthouse light tower.
Environmental Justice. Joined in sending a letter asking the U.S. EPA to fully abide by the 1994 Executive Order that requires EPA to identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects on minority populations and low-income populations.
Assistance to Michigan Cherry Growers. Helped lead efforts requesting an additional purchase of up to 12.2 million pounds of cherry products by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for distribution by the Food Nutrition Service. Additionally, helped secure $151,000 for continuing efforts at Michigan State University to combat amrillaria root rot, which renders infested orchards unsuitable for cherry production, resulting in reduced farm profitability and the conversion of farmland to non-agricultural uses.
SUPPORT FOR AMERICAN MILITARY AT HOME AND AROUND THE WORLD
Pay and Benefits for Military Personnel and Their Families. Helped enact provisions that increase basic pay by 2.2 percent, with additional targeted pay raises for senior enlisted personnel and warrant officers; authorize expansion of eligibility for TRICARE to all members of the Selected Reserve and prohibit any increase in TRICARE enrollment premiums or copayments for pharmaceuticals dispensed through the TRICARE retail pharmacy program; extend the Department of Defense telecommunications benefit for members of the Armed Forces; prohibit predatory practices by creditors who make loans to military personnel; authorize $50 million in aid to local civilian school districts and require the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to assist local schools experiencing growth because of the relocation of military families.
Supplemental Funding for Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Helped lead effort to authorize $70 billion in supplemental funding to support our troops in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan during fiscal year 2007, including $23.8 billion to help the Army and Marine Corps replace and restore equipment damaged in the war effort. Helped lead effort to require the President to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through the normal budget process in the future. This change is necessary to ensure honesty and accountability in budgeting and to avoid severe disruption to the military services as a result of failure to fully fund the global war on terror in a timely manner.
Added Funding and Support for Force Protection Efforts. Helped enact provisions that add $2.5 billion to the President's budget request for force protection equipment, including $1.7 billion for up-armored vehicles and $700 million for interceptor body armor; dedicate $2.1 billion to a task force established to facilitate the accelerated development of new technology and tactics to defeat improvised explosive devices and direct the Department of Defense to ensure that all vehicle movements in Iraq and Afghanistan are protected by counter-IED jammers.
Increased End Strength. Helped enact provisions to increase active-duty end strength by 1,000 for the Marine Corps, while maintaining recently increased levels for the Army and the Army National Guard.
Expanded Funding and Authority to Support Coalition and other Allied Forces. Helped enact provisions authorizing $1.7 billion to help train and equip Iraqi Security Forces and $1.5 billion to help train and equip Afghanistan Security Forces; providing expanded authority for the Department of Defense to provide logistics support, supplies and services to allies and coalition partners; and permitting geographic combatant commanders to provide urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction assistance to foreign nations in their areas of responsibility.
BUILDING A MORE SECURE FUTURE
Nonproliferation Programs. Led effort to extend by five years the waiver authority required to spend funds for a chemical weapons demilitarization facility in Russia and to ensure that both the Cooperative Threat Reduction program and the nonproliferation programs at the Department of Energy are fully funded. These programs play a critical role in reducing the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Special Operations and Combating Terrorism. Helped enact provisions that add over $80 million to enhance special operations capabilities in the global war on terrorism; and require the Secretary of Defense to ensure that the Department's Special Operations Command is appropriately resourced, manned and equipped to conduct the global war on terror; and increase funding for research, equipment and products to counter the threat of chemical and biological weapons by nearly $42 million.
Intelligence and Strategies on Iran. Helped lead effort to require the Director of National Intelligence to prepare an updated and comprehensive national intelligence estimate on Iran, and to require the President to submit to Congress a report on U.S. policy objectives and strategies regarding Iran.
Investments in Science and Technology. Helped enact provisions that increase the Department of Defense investment in science and technology by nearly $600 million; require the Secretary of Defense to develop a department-wide policy for the development and operation of unmanned systems; direct the establishment of a new office to promote the transition of hypersonics technology to operational systems; and require the Department to review and update test and evaluation practices to account for changes in acquisition policies, with special attention to the need for accelerated fielding of force protection equipment, such as helmets and body armor.
Military Readiness and Environmental Quality. Helped enact provisions to sustain military readiness without sacrificing environmental quality by providing $45 million for the acquisition of conservation buffer zones in the vicinity of military facilities and requiring the Department of Defense to develop a comprehensive strategy for the clean-up of unexploded ordinance at military sites.
IMPROVED MANAGEMENT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Oversight of Iraq Reconstruction Funds. Helped enact provision to extend the operations of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, ensuring continued oversight of contracting and program management activities in Iraq through at least 2008.
DOD Acquisition of Major Weapon Systems. Helped lead effort to enact provisions that improve the management of major weapon systems by requiring the Department of Defense to staff critical acquisition positions with government employees; provide program managers with the authority and responsibility required to manage cost, schedule and performance; link the award and incentive fees provided to contractors to the performance of their programs; and establish a preference for the use of fixed price contracts for the development of major weapon systems.
DOD Purchases of Information Technology. Helped enact provisions to improve the management of DOD's acquisition of information technology by establishing a new system for tracking and reporting on significant problems with the cost, schedule and performance of such programs; and requiring that the acquisition of major information technology systems be completed within five years of program initiation.
Ending Abusive Contracting Practices. Helped lead effort to enact provisions prohibiting contractors from adding excessive “pass-through” charges to contracts on which they did little or no work, and requiring Inspector General review of inter-agency contracting mechanisms that have been abused in the past.
Prohibition on “Parking” of Funds. Helped lead effort to enact provision prohibiting the Department of Defense from misleading Congress and the public by requesting funds for a particular program or purpose, when the funds are really intended for a completely different program or purpose.
DOD Financial Management. Helped lead effort to renew and extend provisions preventing the Department of Defense from wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on unneeded audits of financial management systems that will have to be replaced regardless of audit results, because they are incapable of producing timely, accurate and complete financial data for management purposes.
PROTECTING THE HOMELAND AND OUR BORDERS
Interoperable Communications at the Border. Secured Senate passage of an amendment to establish at least six International Border Community Interoperable Communications Demonstration Projects to address the communications needs of police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, National Guard and other emergency response providers at our Northern and Southern borders.
Chemical Plant Security. Original cosponsor of legislation reported out of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that would provide comprehensive new authority to the Department of Homeland Security to regulate the security of chemical facilities across the United States. Unfortunately, this comprehensive bill was not acted upon by the full Senate. Instead, a provision was inserted into the Homeland Security appropriations bill giving DHS the authority to regulate chemical facilities. Although this authorization is sorely needed and long past due, it is unfortunate that the more comprehensive legislation was not enacted into law.
Investigating Hurricane Katrina and Improving Emergency Management. Participated in multiple hearings, legislative efforts and an investigation by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee into poor performance, misconduct and contract fraud associated with the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. Incorporated language into the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 that would establish a National Emergency Child Locator Center and a National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System. This language was incorporated into the Homeland Security appropriations bill, and signed into law. These systems will help prevent families from being separated and will help families reunite more quickly in the event that they get separated during a disaster.
• Nearly $300 million for the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Command (TARDEC). The Department of Defense Appropriations bill includes over $299.7 million for Army research on combat vehicle and automotive technologies. This research is performed and managed by the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Command (TARDEC) and its National Automotive Center, both located in Warren, Michigan.
• $880.33 million for the Army's Stryker armored vehicle. General Dynamics Land Systems of Sterling Heights is the prime contractor for the Stryker armored vehicle.
• $763.1 million for the M1A1 Abrams Integrated Management process. The Army initiated a M1A1 Abrams tank rebuild program in 1999 known as Abrams Integrated Management (AIM). Under this refurbishment program, more than 1,000 M1A1 Abrams tanks will be rebuilt to a like-new condition by completely disassembling each component of the tank and cleaning, inspecting, and evaluating for rebuilding, refurbishment, or complete replacement. General Dynamics Land Systems of Sterling Heights is the prime contractor for the U.S. Army's Abrams tank.
• $700 million for M1A2 Abrams tank upgrade program. In this program, 588 early model M1 tanks are being upgraded to the latest M1A2 System Enhancement Package (SEP) configuration. The M1A2 SEP program upgrades Abrams tanks with the Army's newest command and control system, second-generation thermal sights, color displays, and improved armor. General Dynamics Land Systems of Sterling Heights is the prime contractor for the U.S. Army's Abrams tank.
• $3.0 million for the Automated Tactical Ammunition Classification System (ATACS). This unique combination of machine vision technology, sensor systems and automation equipment modernizes the process of inspecting and sorting small arms ammunition, greatly increasing the quality of ammunition being re-issued and reducing the cost of the sorting process. The ATACS system is capable of inspecting up to 200 rounds per minute of loose ammunition varying in calibers from 5.56 mm to .50 caliber and far surpasses the abilities of human inspectors. Cybernet of Ann Arbor assisted the DOD in the design, development and manufacture of these systems.
• $2.0 million for tactical vehicle driving simulators for the U.S. Army National Guard. These simulators enable soldiers and Marines to more effectively train on tactical vehicles of various sizes before they deploy. FAAC, Incorporated of Ann Arbor manufactures these systems for the Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserves and Marine Corps.
• $1.0 million for the development of a holographic close combat optic. Holographic sights provide soldiers with a rapid target acquisition display to engage in close quarters as well as distant targets with increased identification and accuracy. EO Tech of Ann Arbor is a leading developer and manufacturer of holographic sights.
• $1.0 million for the development of the arctic warfare mountaineering boot. Currently being developed by Bates Uniform Footwear, a division of Wolverine World Wide in Rockford, and the U.S. Special Operations Command, this boot will provide advanced footwear to Special Operations soldiers for extreme cold weather environments and mountainous terrain.
MICHIGAN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
• $5.5 million for advanced composite materials research. This research will advance the design of ground and air vehicles that are durable, lightweight, safe, environmentally-friendly and functionally appropriate for specified applications in the military. In particular, the Marine Corps needs a new generation of armored, light-weight, long-life ground vehicles for use in a variety of adverse conditions. The research will be focused on using composite materials in innovative structural and shell components. Michigan State University's School of Engineering has been working with TARDEC for years in these research areas.
• $1.5 million to develop a hand-held water quality sensing device. This project will continue collaboration among TARDEC, local health officials and Wayne State University to develop a hand-held water quality sensing device that will aid in the detection of chemical, biological and pollutant agents in drinking water. This project, when completed, will enable the military and public health officials to conduct real-time monitoring of water quality.
• $1.35 million for the defense transportation energy research program. This funding will support an Army-university-industry research coalition dedicated to research and technology development on fuels, fuel cells and auxiliary power units. The University of Michigan's School of Engineering has done world-class research in these fields.
• $1.3 million for the Automotive Research Center run by the Detroit Arsenal's TARDEC. These funds will be used to grow and sustain a consortium of eight universities headquartered at the University of Michigan and including Wayne State University, Oakland University, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, the University of Iowa, the University of Tennessee, Clemson University, University of Wisconsin, and Virginia Tech University.
• $1.3 million for organic light emitting receptor based nanosensors research. This funding will focus on the development of a new sensor with rapid detection of toxins and rapid display of alerts in a small lightweight form. Western Michigan University has an existing relationship with the Army Research Lab and faculty with experience in this field.
• $1.3 million for dendrimer enhanced water remediation research. This funding will provide for selective removal of contaminants and other hazardous materials in water filtration. Research has shown that dendrimers have a remarkable capacity to capture a variety of metal and organic molecules making them ideal materials for water remediation. However, it is difficult to find cost effective nanotechnology-based methods that increase the capacity and performance of water filtration units by selective removal of toxic metals and contaminants at the nanoscale and molecular levels. The goal of this project is to demonstrate the feasibility of dendrimers for reusable cartridges for point-of-use filtration units. Central Michigan University has extensive experience in this field.
• $1.0 million to continue the development of diagnostic tools and treatment for exposure to chemical and biological agents. The University of Michigan is a member of the Advance Medical Countermeasures Consortium, which is developing two types of multi-threat treatment countermeasures and a diagnostic tool that is capable of diagnosing chemical and biological agent exposure in the asymptomatic person.
• $1.0 million for the Center for Innovative Materials and Infrastructure Security at Lawrence Technological University. This center will focus on the research and development of materials to strengthen existing U.S. military structures and vehicles against terrorist attacks or natural disasters.
• $1.0 million for integrated systems in sensing, imaging and communications research. Wireless optical communication will be an important technology for highly secure, point-to-point communication systems. Michigan Technological University has extensive experience in this field through collaborative efforts with the National Science Foundation, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.
• $1.0 million for Western Michigan University's Center for Advanced Vehicle Design and Simulation. The center will use the funds to develop dual-use applied research simulation capability for military ground vehicles. The program will attempt to increase ground vehicle reliability and optimize performance through advanced simulation technologies.
Other Military-related Research and Development Initiatives
• $7.7 million for the research and development of a hypersonic cruise missile engine. Williams International of Walled Lake is a world leading missile engine manufacturer.
• $5.2 million for the development of new materials for advanced power electronics needed by DOD systems. Many military systems depend on the development of wide-band gap semiconductor materials capable of significantly higher power, higher frequency operations in high temperature environments. Applications for the technology include high power switching for hybrid electric vehicles and grid switching networks, wireless communications, radar systems, light emitting diodes for solid state lighting and next generation data storage. Dow Corning of Midland will help the Navy continue the development of this important technology.
• $3.25 million to develop a self-contained, mobile manufacturing center. This Navy and Marine Corps program would continue development of a self-contained, mobile manufacturing center that can produce spare parts on-demand for military equipment for deployed forces at sea and in remote locations, allowing the Navy and Marine Corps to reduce operating and support costs while maintaining equipment readiness while deployed. Focus: HOPE of Detroit has extensive experience in this area through their work on the Army Mobile Parts Hospital deployed in Kuwait .
• $3.0 million to continue work at Focus: HOPE on the development of advanced manufacturing technologies for the Army. It is important that the Army develop fully integrated, cost-efficient manufacturing technologies that can be used to support depot operations and other Army efforts. Focus: HOPE has worked on numerous manufacturing programs with the U.S. Army and is a national leader in the training of manufacturing engineers.
• $2.3 million for continued research for the Marine Corps on embedding sensors in materials using a process called ultrasonic consolidation. Ultrasonic consolidation is used to manufacture metal parts at essentially room temperature, allowing fragile sensors and devices to be embedded in metal components without damage. This process could actually build new parts with embedded sensors or add a thin protective layer of metal over a sensor to apply it to a surface. Solidica, an Ann Arbor based firm, is a leader in the development of these materials and processes.
• $2.3 million for the Air Force's Metals Affordability Initiative, a government-industry cooperative program to develop new aerospace materials and alloys. Howmet Castings in Whitehall is developing new materials that will reduce aircraft engine maintenance costs and help enable the next generation of fighter aircraft and unmanned air vehicles.
• $1.0 million for the development of a shipboard wireless maintenance assistant. This rugged, handheld wireless device will provide information to maintenance personnel as part of the Navy's Smart Ship Program. Cybernet Systems of Ann Arbor is the lead developer of the maintenance assistant program in partnership with Spartan Electronics of Jackson.
• $1.0 million for Chemical Agent Fate Evaporation Model Verification and Validation. The Agent Fate Program is a joint service program that has two main thrusts: the acquisition of chemical warfare agent data and the development of models from that data. The U.S. military realized that they needed an overhaul of these tools to fully exploit the new chemical warfare threats they expect to face. Kettering University has an existing program and faculty with extensive experience in this area.
• $2.0 million for an additional Michigan STARBASE program, a Department of Defense program that immerses at-risk students in a highly technical math and science environment at a military bases or installation for five weeks. The program began at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in 1991 with support from a grant by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. STARBASE was so successful the Department of Defense adopted the program and now provides its funding. Today, the program operates in 50 locations, training 50,000 students annually at military bases across the United States. The Battle Creek Air National Guard Base could realize a STARBASE program of their own benefiting students in Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Branch, Jackson, and Eaton counties.
Combating Credit Card Unfair Practices. Initiated in-depth investigation into unfair credit card practices. Senator Levin commissioned the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to conduct a study on the billing practices of credit card companies. Released in September 2006, the GAO report found that credit card issuers are making more of their money from climbing fees, hefty interest charges, and poor disclosure practices that take advantage of working families and squeeze needed dollars from family budgets. By 2004, bombarded by more than three billion credit card solicitations in the mail, the average American household owed credit card debt of more than $5,100. Senator Levin will follow up on the unfair and excessive practices described in the report and hold hearings and introduce legislation in 2007.
Pensions. Led Senate effort to keep two misguided provisions from the Senate pension bill from being included in the final conference report (P.L. 109-280). The first of those two provisions would have required companies with solid pension plans, but that also had poor credit ratings, to use actuarial assumptions that require them to put away unnecessarily high amounts of money into their pension trusts. The second would have added significant volatility for companies when they are determining how much money they need to set aside for the pension plans.
Cracking Down on Offshore Tax Evasion. Continued to lead investigation by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations into abusive tax shelters and offshore tax havens used by businesses and individuals to dodge payment of their U.S. taxes. In August 2006, held hearing and released a report detailing six case histories of how U.S. persons are using offshore trusts, corporations and tax shelters to evade payment of their taxes. In one case history, two brothers built an offshore network of 58 offshore trusts and corporations to avoid payment of taxes on hundreds of millions of dollars in income. In another, billionaires made use of offshore corporations engaged in fake securities sales to avoid paying taxes on more than $2 billion in income. Made multiple recommendations to combat these offshore abuses.
Tax Shelter Penalties. Continued gaining support for the Levin/Coleman amendment that passed the Senate in 2005, but which, unfortunately, has yet to become law. Under current law, which was adopted in 2004, the maximum civil penalty for promoting an abusive tax shelter is 50 percent of the gross income earned by a tax shelter promoter from an abusive shelter. Because the penalty allows promoters to keep half of their tax shelter income, the Levin-Coleman amendment doubles the penalty to 100 percent. By setting the penalty at 100 percent of the tax shelter income, promoters would be unable to keep any of their ill-gotten gains. The same 100 percent civil penalty would apply to aiders and abettors, who currently face a maximum penalty of $10,000 - an amount that, when compared to potential fees, provides virtually no deterrent.
Estate Tax. Helped defeat unfair and unaffordable estate tax legislation that would have cost the Treasury $750 billion over ten years by gutting the estate tax in order to give the wealthiest one half of one percent of Americans a huge tax break.
Investigating Oil and Energy Prices. Conducted investigation and released report showing how market speculators are driving up the price of U.S. gasoline, natural gas, and other fuels. Estimates are that such speculation added $20-$25 to a $70 barrel of crude oil. Original cosponsor of bill to impose windfall profits tax on oil company profits, and original cosponsor of another bill to increase the ability of the U.S. government to police energy markets and stop market manipulation.
Taxi Meters. Authored the law requiring a metered system in District of Columbia taxicabs not later than one year after enactment, unless the Mayor issues an Executive Order opting out of the requirement.
Stopping Federal Contractor Tax Cheats. Helped lead investigation by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations into companies doing business with the U.S. government, getting paid with taxpayer dollars, and then failing to pay the taxes they owe. Hearings in 2004 and 2005 identified tens of thousands of federal contractors with billions of dollars in unpaid taxes. A 2006 hearing found 3,800 General Services Administration contractors with unpaid taxes totaling $1.4 billion and examined GSA's role in failing to identify contractors who are tax deadbeats. Cosponsored legislation with Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) (including S. 457 and S. 679) to strengthen the federal tax levy program that withholds a portion of contract payments made to federal contractors who owe taxes. The IRS and DOD also instituted several reforms advocated by Levin and Coleman, increasing tax levy collections from $7 million in 2003, to more than $42 million in 2005. A more effective tax levy program helps keep the tax cheat's hand out of the taxpayer's wallet.
Stopping Shell Companies Involved in Criminal Misconduct. Led investigation by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations into how states establish nearly two million companies each year without knowing who is behind them, inviting money laundering, tax evasion, and other misconduct. Held hearing in November 2006 showing that when U.S. shell companies become involved in misconduct, the lack of ownership information has impeded law enforcement efforts. In addition, by failing to obtain corporate ownership information, the United States has violated its international commitment to install strong anti-money laundering laws. Announced effort to work with the states and law enforcement to address this problem.