Annual Legislative Report

2010 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.

Creating Jobs, Getting Our Economy Back on Track, and Expanding Economic Opportunities for Working Families
Keeping Our Families Safe and Healthy
Fighting for Workers and Consumers and Promoting Corporate Responsibility
Protecting the Great Lakes and the Environment
Preserving Michigan's Agricultural Resources and Family Farms
Improving Michigan Roads and Transport
Keeping America Strong
Reforming Government

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

HIRE Act.  Helped win enactment of the HIRE Act, which provides a new tax incentive to encourage businesses to hire unemployed workers, allows small businesses to write off certain expenditures, extends highway programs, and expands the Build America Bond program.  This act helped Michigan employers hire as many as 185,000 new employees.

Small Business Jobs Act. As part of the Small Business Jobs Act, championed a $1.5 billion program, modeled after two successful Michigan programs, to support state and local programs to help spur small business lending.  The Small Business Jobs Act helps small businesses access capital they need to operate and grow.  It creates a new $30 billion lending fund to get capital to small businesses, gives $12 billion in tax cuts to small businesses, and expands and improves the Small Business Administration’s programs to help small businesses.  Senator Levin also authored the intermediary lending pilot program that was included in the SBA programs to help nonprofit organizations lend to small businesses to boost job creation and growth.

Technology Innovation Program (TIP).  Helped enact an improved and strengthened Advanced Technology Program, now called the Technology Innovation Program (TIP), and worked to secure increased funding authorization levels over three years. TIP 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 foreign competitors and contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy.  Urged increased funding levels for TIP for FY 2010 and FY 2011.

Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (MEP).  Worked to increase FY 2008, FY 2009, FY 2010 and FY 2011 appropriations for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program and helped secure increased funding authorization levels over three years. 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.  As manufacturers face increasing pressure from the global economy, improved efficiency and competitiveness are essential in order to retain jobs here in the United States.  MEP is one of the few federal programs that provides tangible assistance to American manufacturers to help them create and retain jobs. 

Auto Company Restructuring.  Worked with Congress and the Obama administration to ensure that the ongoing restructuring of the domestic auto industry is done in a way that continues to preserve U.S. manufacturing jobs, includes a continued commitment for small car production in the United States, and recognizes the importance of maintaining a solid base of U.S. suppliers during the industry’s restructuring.

FIGHTING FOR FAIR TRADE AND A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD FOR THE AMERICAN WORKER

Fighting to Stop Currency Manipulation.  As co-chairman of the Senate Auto Caucus and the Senate Auto Parts Task Force, pressed the Obama 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 an unfair disadvantage.  Cosponsored legislation aimed at stopping China and other nations’ currency manipulation. 

Fighting for Open Markets for U.S. Manufacturers. Urged the Obama 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 to reduce the rampant intellectual property theft that occurs in China.  Weighed in on behalf of U.S. companies pursuing anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations against foreign nations’ unfair exports to the United States.  Urged the administration to take all steps necessary to open the South Korean and Japanese markets to American autos.  

Section 301 Investigation. Successfully urged the Obama administration to launch a Section 301 investigation into China’s policies that unfairly limit U.S. exports and inhibit fair competition in the clean energy technology sector.  The administration’s decision to initiate an investigation comes in response to a petition filed by the U.S. Steelworkers in September 2010.  For several years, repeatedly urged the administration to investigate allegations that China’s policies shut out imports from the United States and other countries while at the same time exporting almost all of its production abroad.  

Better Market Access for U.S.-made Autos in Korea. Successfully pressed the Obama administration to insist on better market access for U.S.-made automobiles in the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement negotiated by the Bush administration.  This resulted in an agreement on critical changes to the pending trade agreement between the United States and South Korea that are a significant change from the current one-way street for trade between the two countries, and which will provide the U.S. automotive sector with an opportunity to break into the Korean market.

Fighting for a Level Playing Field for Michigan Companies.  Introduced legislation to provide for the duty-free import of certain inputs used in the U.S.-based manufacture of finished products in the United States when that input is not made in the United States.  This allows the American companies to remain globally competitive and continue to produce in the United States and create and retain jobs in the United States.  These provisions were included in the Miscellaneous Tariff bill that passed the Senate during the lame duck session in December as part of a larger trade bill that did not pass the House. 

Back to top

Keeping Our Families Safe and Healthy

HEALTH CARE

Rosa's Law. Cosponsored and helped enact legislation (Public Law No. 111-256) amending the Higher Education Act of 1965, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Public Health Service Act, the Health Professions Education Partnerships Act of 1998, the National Sickle Cell Anemia Act, Cooley's Anemia, Tay-Sachs, and Genetic Diseases Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, and other federal enactments and regulations to change references to mental retardation to references to an intellectual disability.

Extending Federal Medical Assistance Percentage for States. Cosponsored and helped enact legislation extending the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) that was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. FMAP is the federal match that helps states pay for most Medicaid services.

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.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  Worked with other senators to ensure that sufficient funds would be provided for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program in the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution. 

HOUSING

Access for Supportive Living for Seniors.  Cosponsored a law that improves the access of senior citizens to supportive living.  The law amends the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 202 program to streamline the process to develop assisted living facilities. The bill was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. 

Neighborhood Preservation.  Led the effort to secure $223,875,399 in federal funding for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to restore neighborhoods affected by foreclosures and abandonment. The funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Neighborhood Stabilization Program and was made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 

Back to top

Fighting for Workers and Consumers and Promoting Corporate Responsibility

PROTECTING WORKERS

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Cosponsored and helped enact legislation (Public Law No. 111-2) that amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to give victims of pay discrimination the legal standing to fight against unfair pay practices.

Extending Unemployment Insurance. Cosponsored and helped enact legislation extending unemployment insurance to all states.  Cosponsored legislation to provide additional benefits for high unemployment states like Michigan.

FIGHTING FOR CONSUMERS AND PROMOTING CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY

Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  Co-authored and fought to include the Merkley-Levin provisions in this landmark legislation, which now protect consumers from having financial firms sell them products that were designed to fail, and protect banks and large financial firms from taking on excessive risks. The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act puts a new cop on the beat to protect Main Street and prevents big banks from becoming “too big to fail.”   

Creating New Consumer Bureau.  Fought for establishment of the new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau in the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, to strengthen federal safeguards against unfair and abusive financial products, including predatory mortgages, payday loans, and credit cards, as well as unfair debt collection practices. 

Stopping Credit Card Abuses.  Supported pro-consumer regulations issued by the Federal Reserve Board to implement the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, including rules to stop banks from imposing unfair credit card interest charges or fees, taking actions to circumvent or undermine the law’s consumer protections, or engaging in other abusive practices. 

Combating Excessive Speculation.  Fought for and helped include in the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, new provisions to combat excessive speculation in commodity markets that can distort prices, overwhelm normal supply and demand factors, and force consumers and businesses to pay higher and more volatile oil, food, and other commodity prices.  The new safeguards include imposing trading limits on speculators in all energy, metals, and food commodities in all types of commodity markets, imposing new reporting requirements for large over-the-counter commodity trades, and enabling federal regulators to police U.S. commodity trades on all U.S. and foreign markets.  These new safeguards are, in part, the product of multiple investigations by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair, into excessive speculation in commodity markets. 

Cracking Down on Offshore Tax Evasion.  As Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, held multiple hearings over the years on offshore tax abuses, including tax haven banks that help U.S. taxpayers open secret bank accounts with hidden assets, contributing to an estimated $100 billion in lost tax revenues each year from offshore tax evasion.  Responding in part to those investigations, Congress enacted as part of the HIRE Act of 2010, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) to require foreign banks to disclose to the IRS all foreign bank accounts opened by U.S. persons or pay a hefty tax on the banks’ own U.S. investments.  FATCA also included new provisions to stop foreign trust and dividend tax abuses highlighted in past Subcommittee hearings.  Also worked to ensure strong FATCA implementing regulations.  In addition, the Subcommittee’s work contributed to a worldwide effort to pressure offshore jurisdictions to stop facilitating tax evasion, resulting in virtually all of those jurisdictions, including Switzerland, making written commitments to stop using secrecy laws to facilitate tax evasion and adopt international standards for exchanging information to support tax enforcement efforts. 

Targeting Corporate Stock Option Tax Break.  Released new data showing that stock option tax deductions claimed by U.S. corporations on their 2008 tax returns exceeded the expenses shown on their corporate books by $52 billion.  Continued to support bipartisan legislation with Sen. McCain, S. 1491, to eliminate this stock option book-tax disparity by requiring the corporate tax deduction for stock option compensation to equal the booked expense.  CEOs now receive nearly 400 times the average pay earned by workers, and stock options are a key reason.  By providing overly generous stock option tax deductions, federal tax policy is encouraging corporations to provide excessive stock option pay, fueling the pay gap between executives and workers, and enabling corporations to avoid paying billions in taxes. 

Back to top

Protecting the Great Lakes and the Environment

THE GREAT LAKES

Protecting Against Aquatic Invasive Species.  Authored and implemented the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act.  This law would list Asian carp – the bighead– as an injurious species under the Lacey Act prohibiting the interstate commerce and importation of live Asian carp without a permit.  Such action will reduce the risk of an intentional introduction of these species into the Great Lakes.  The bill was signed into law in December 2010.

HISTORIC AND NATURAL RESOURCE PRESERVATION 

Preserving Michigan’s Historic Lighthouses.  Co-authored legislation to return the historic Fresnel lens to the lantern room atop the Presque Isle Light Station Lighthouse.  This language passed the Senate, but was modified in conference to first require a study of the feasibility of returning the lens to the lantern room.  The U.S. Coast Guard will complete this study and determine if the lens will return to the lantern room or be displayed in a secure setting at the base of the lighthouse.  This legislation was included in the Coast Guard reauthorization bill.    

GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE AND CLEAN ENERGY

Single National Standard for Regulation of Vehicle Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.  Worked with the Obama administration, the domestic auto industry, and the United Auto Workers to ensure that a fair and reasonable single national standard for regulation of vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions was established for model years 2012-2016 that recognizes the need for certainty and predictability in regulation and eliminates potentially conflicting state regulations. 

Department of Energy Loan Guarantees.  Worked with Michigan delegation to help Michigan companies compete successfully for federal funding under the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program for renewable technologies, which is designed to help companies access credit and make significant investments in various clean energy sectors, including solar, energy storage and wind.  The Department of Energy is currently considering applications from several Michigan companies for loan guarantees under section 1705 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 

Lithium Ion Battery Production.   Worked with the Department of Defense to ensure that Michigan companies can compete for $27 million provided for domestic lithium ion battery production under the Defense Production Act to develop domestic industrial sources of advanced battery technologies for use in military applications.  The availability of domestically manufactured lithium ion batteries is critical to both the DOD and to the ability of our automotive manufacturers to produce the next generation of ground vehicles.

OTHER

Whale Protection. Initiated bipartisan letter signed by 17 senators to President Obama asking the president to require the U.S. delegation to the 88-nation International Whaling Commission talks in Agadir, Morocco, to vote against a proposal to suspend the moratorium on commercial whaling for ten years and to encourage other countries to do the same.  As a result of this letter and a similar appeal by House members, the moratorium/ban on commercial whaling was maintained. The June 17, 2010, letter read in part:  The moratorium has saved tens of thousands of whales from exploitation…. we respectfully urge your Administration to oppose the proposal before the International Whaling Commission that would suspend the 1986 global moratorium on whaling, [and] encourage other countries to do the same…

Back to top

Preserving Michigan’s Agricultural Resources and Family Farms

USDA Commodity PurchaseAdvocated successfully for the purchase of asparagus by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Commodity Purchase Program.  This program not only provides assistance to Michigan farmers but also to school children and those who participate in our nation’s vital food nutrition programs.

Back to top

Improving Michigan Roads and Transport

AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT (ARRA) TRANSPORTATION FUNDS

Helping Bring High-Speed Rail to Michigan.  Helped secure over $200 million in federal high-speed rail grants for Michigan, including three grants for Michigan’s high speed rail line.  In the first round of ARRA high-speed rail funding, Michigan was awarded $40 million to restore and build three Amtrak stations, to renovate two existing stations in Troy and Battle Creek, and to construct a new station in downtown Dearborn.  Michigan will also benefit from high-speed rail work being done in Indiana and Illinois.  Additional high-speed rail grants awarded to Michigan, a combination of FY 2010 funds and residual ARRA high-speed rail funds, include:

  1. West Detroit Connection Track Project.  $7.9 million. This high-speed intercity passenger rail grant will improve the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac high-speed rail corridor and reduce conflicts with freight rail in the congested area west of Detroit.  This project will provide immediate congestion relief for existing high-speed passenger rail and freight service and will improve reliability for high-speed rail service, which is needed for any additional high-speed passenger rail service and Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter rail service.  Specifically, the work will improve the corridor from West Detroit to the Detroit New Center Amtrak Station.  A new bridge will be built over Junction Avenue, and a new connection track will be built with an extension approximately one mile long, as well as signal improvements and several crossovers.  This work will cut approximately 10 minutes off travel time on the corridor by improving the flow of existing freight and passenger trains. 
  2. Chicago Hub (Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac) High Speed Rail Corridor Investment Plan.  $3.2 million. This high-speed intercity passenger rail planning grant is to conduct studies and capacity analysis along the entire corridor necessary to produce the required service development plan, and corridor-wide environmental document for high-speed passenger rail service and service increases from three round trips to nine rounds trips.
  3. Norfolk Southern Enhancement /Acquisition.  $150 million.  This grant is to stabilize the 135 mile segment of line between Kalamazoo and Dearborn. This segment is currently owned by Norfolk Southern, and because of the low volume of freight traffic along this section of the corridor, Norfolk Southern has wanted to lower the speed.  These funds will allow the Michigan Department of Transportation to purchase/lease portions of this segment and upgrade the track so that it can support high-speed rail train speeds of up to 110 MPH.  This upgrade will mean that a total of 235 miles of track along the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac Corridor will be able to accommodate high-speed rail passenger trains.

Helping to Bring Rapid Transit to Michigan.  Helped secure $25 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant for Detroit to build a light-rail line connecting downtown to the New Center.  The funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program will be used for road rehabilitation, a streetscape enhancement project and the purchase of light-rail cars. The $25 million TIGER grant for the M-1 Rail Project overall will create a new 3.4 mile light-rail system connecting Downtown Detroit to the New Center district along the region's main traffic artery, Woodward Avenue (M-1), with 12 station stops. The goal is to provide a distinctive, pedestrian-oriented district on Woodward Avenue (M-1) in the New Center area that will enhance the safety and appeal for pedestrians and serve as a catalyst for commercial revitalization and tourism development.

M-1 RAIL, a nonprofit public/private partnership, is using privately-raised funds to build light-rail along Woodward Avenue from Hart Plaza to the New Center. The city of Detroit is in the process of applying for federal funds from the New Starts program to create the second phase of the light-rail line, from New Center to 8 Mile Road, creating a seamless transit line from Hart Plaza down Woodward Avenue to 8 Mile Road. The rapid transit line going up Woodward Avenue would create an eight mile corridor of great economic importance to the city and state. In addition to the private funds going into the first phase of the light-rail line, the project has a significant local financial commitment. The city of Detroit has set aside $64.45 million and the state of Michigan has set aside $16.3 million for the local match.

Bridge Repair and Replacement

Stadium Bridges, Ann Arbor.  Helped secure a $13.9 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery II grant (TIGER II) to replace two bridges spanning State Street and the Ann Arbor Railroad. The bridge over State Street currently has a federal deficiency rating of 2 on a 100 point scale. Traffic on the bridges has been reduced from four to two lanes and loads on the bridge have been limited.  This $14 million will fix a critical transportation link in Ann Arbor, improving safety and reliability, and will create hundreds of jobs in the Ann Arbor area. 

Black River Bridge in Port Huron.  Helped secure $30 million for the replacement of the Black River Bridge in Port Huron. The bridge, constructed in 1963, carries 14 percent of the international trade between the United States and Canada and is in need of a major rebuild. The funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program will be part of the integrated Blue Water Bridge Plaza Expansion Project. The new Black River Bridge will increase capacity by providing three dedicated lanes for eastbound local traffic, three dedicated lanes for eastbound international traffic headed to the Blue Water Bridge and Canada, and three westbound lanes. It will also include a 14-foot wide pedestrian and bike crossing. The new bridge will reduce border crossing delays and improve commercial and passenger traffic in the area.

Clean Vehicle Technology. Helped secure $34.6 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation to be dispersed across the state for the purchase of hybrid vehicles, the retooling of current state vehicles for cleaner emissions, renovations of transit centers, and the purchase of additional support equipment. By expanding and modernizing our public transportation systems across the state we are providing important services to our residents while investing in future growth.  By using these recovery act funds to purchase cleaner and more efficient vehicles, these transit agencies will improve their reliability for customers and reduce their environmental impact.

The Michigan projects included in this announcement are:

Agency

Grant Amount

Purpose

Michigan Department of Transportation

$167,820

Modify buses with mini-hybrid components

Michigan Department of Transportation

$524,072

Purchase one replacement van, two expansion vans; facility improvements; bus shelters; miscellaneous support equipment

Michigan Department of Transportation

$12,443,615

Purchase three 40-foot, four 35-foot, five 30-foot, and 28 less-than-30-foot replacement buses; facility renovations; miscellaneous support equipment; operating assistance

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority

$2,290,056

Renovate/improve a transfer center; expand bus storage capacity; improve safety and accessibility of bus stops; operating assistance

Detroit Department of Transportation

$18,875,500

Purchase 42 40-foot low-floor diesel replacement buses and four 40-foot low-floor hybrid electric replacement buses; operating assistance

Battle Creek Transit System

$318,889

Construction of a new off-street bus island facility for Battle Creek Transit’s buses

State Total

$34,619,952


Back to top

Keeping America Strong

SUPPORT FOR AMERICAN MILITARY AT HOME AND AROUND THE WORLD

National Defense Authorization Act.  Led efforts in the Senate to pass the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2011, the 49th consecutive year such a bill has been passed.  The NDAA authorizes critical funding and authorities to improve the lives of members of our military, support military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, and strengthen the acquisition and management processes of the Department of Defense (DOD). 

  • Pay and Benefits for Military Personnel and Their Families.  Played a leading role in the enactment of provisions that improve pay and benefits for military personnel and their families by --
    • Authorizing $138.5 billion for military personnel, the full amount requested by the President, which includes funding for a 1.4 percent across-the-board pay raise for members of the uniformed services, allowances, bonuses, death benefits, and permanent change of station moves.
    • Authorizing TRICARE coverage for certain dependents of eligible beneficiaries up to age 26.
    • Extending for one year the prohibition on increasing the premium and copayment for TRICARE Prime, charges for inpatient care in civilian hospitals under TRICARE Standard, and cost sharing requirements for drugs provided through the TRICARE retail pharmacy.
  • Equipment and Support for Troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Played a leading role in the enactment of provisions that –
    • Enhance DOD’s ability to acquire rapidly and field new capabilities in response to urgent needs on the battlefield by expanding DOD’s authority to waive statutory requirements when needed to save lives on the battlefield, and requires DOD to establish a comprehensive process for evaluating and addressing urgent operational needs identified on the battlefield.
    • Provide additional tools to our military in Afghanistan and Iraq by:  (1) increasing the annual authority, from $40 million to $45 million, for U.S. special operations forces to provide support to foreign forces, groups, and individuals assisting in ongoing operations; (2) authorizing substantial funding for the Commanders’ Emergency Response Program (CERP) in Afghanistan and Iraq to continue to enable commanders to fund urgent, small-scale humanitarian relief and reconstruction projects directly benefiting the indigenous people; (3) establishing the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund to pay for high-priority, large-scale infrastructure projects, in support of the civil-military campaign; and (4) authorizing the use of DOD funds to support the reintegration into Afghan society of former low-level insurgent fighters who lay down their arms.
    • Enhance the capability of the security forces of allied and friendly nations by:  (1) authorizing the President’s full request for $11.6 billion to train and equip the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police; (2) authorizing $1.5 billion in assistance to the Iraqi Security Forces as Iraq assumes increasing responsibility for its security as U.S. troops drawdown; (3) extending for one year DOD’s authority to transfer non-excess defense equipment being withdrawn from Iraq to the security forces of Iraq and Afghanistan; (4) authorizing the Secretary of Defense to provide up to $75 million in equipment, supplies, and training to the Yemen Ministry of Interior counterterrorism force; (5) extending DOD’s “train and equip” authority to build the capacity of foreign security forces to conduct counterterrorism operations and provides increased flexibility under that program to build the capacity of coalition partners in Afghanistan to conduct stabilization operations and special operations; (6) extending the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund, to be resourced with funds transferred from the Department of State, to build the capacities of the Pakistan Frontier Corps and the Pakistan Army; and (7) authorizing Coalition Support Funds to reimburse Pakistan and other key nations cooperating in contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.   

BUILDING A MORE SECURE FUTURE

New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).  Helped lead Senate efforts to ratify the New START Treaty.  Chaired seven hearings and three briefings in the Senate Armed Services Committee on the New START Treaty.  Among other things, the Treaty:

  • Mandates mutual reductions and limitations on Russia and the United States, the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.
  • Promotes transparency and predictability in the future strategic relationships of Russia and the United States.
  • Enables each party to the Treaty to verify that the other party is complying with its obligations through a regime of onsite inspections, notifications, comprehensive and continuing data exchanges, and provisions for unimpeded use of national technical means.
  • Does not restrict the U.S. missile defense plans and programs.

Building a More Secure Future by Countering Non-traditional Threats.  Played a leading role in the enactment of provisions that –

  • Help to address cyber security threats by directing the Department of Defense to: (1) resolve longstanding policy issues relating to the conduct of military operations in cyberspace; (2) develop a tailored cyber acquisition process; (3) conduct major commercial technology demonstrations; and (4) report annually on losses and damages from cyber attacks and cyberwar “net assessments.”
  • Help address the threats from nuclear weapons and materials by: (1) supporting increased funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration and DOD to secure vulnerable fissile material and prevent global proliferation; (2) supporting additional funding to ensure that our nuclear stockpile is safe, secure, and reliable; and (3) directing the Secretary of Energy to establish cost and schedule baselines for major defense funded projects and to report to the Congress if the costs exceed 25 percent of the base line.  Ensuring cost discipline is particularly important as the NNSA builds two new multi-billion production facilities.

Inquiry into the Role and Oversight of Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan.  As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, completed an investigation into U.S.-funded private security contractors operating under Department of Defense contracts and subcontracts in Afghanistan.  The Committee’s investigation uncovered evidence that some security contractors funneled U.S. taxpayer dollars to Afghan warlords and strongmen linked to murder, kidnapping, and bribery, as well as to Taliban, and anti-Coalition activities.  It also revealed wasted resources, dangerous performance failures, and wide gaps in government oversight that allowed such failures to persist.  According to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Committee’s report of its investigative findings helped the Defense Department understand the nature of the problems associated with contracting in Afghanistan.  In fact, the Committee’s report provided strong support for U.S. military commanders to take action against contracting practices that harm our mission in Afghanistan.  In response to concerns about contracting practices, the Defense Department established military task forces to identify and eliminate contracting practices that run contrary to the counterinsurgency strategy.  And General David Petraeus, the Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, issued new guidance on the use of contractors.

IMPROVED MANAGEMENT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

  • Improved Management of the Department of Defense.   Played a leading role in the enactment of provisions that promote aggressive and thorough oversight of DOD’s programs and activities to ensure proper stewardship of taxpayer dollars by --
    • Addressing shortcomings in the management of private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan by making contractors expressly responsible for the conduct of their subcontractors and establishing specific contractual remedies for failures to comply with the requirements and directives. 
    • Improving the defense acquisition system by:  (1) establishing a requirement for regular peer reviews of all elements of the acquisition system to identify best practices and lessons learned; (2) adopting changes proposed by DOD to improve the operation of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, which develops requirements for major defense acquisition programs; and (3) providing for the improved career development of civilian and military personnel in the acquisition workforce.
    • Improving contractor oversight by:  (1) requiring the review and evaluation of contractor business systems to ensure that these systems are adequate to protect the government’s interests; (2) enhancing DOD’s authority to take action against contractors who are found to have jeopardized the health or safety of government personnel; and (3) clarifying the government’s right to use technical data that is developed exclusively at governmental expense, when needed to ensure competition for follow-on contracts.
    • Improving DOD contracting procedures by:  (1) requiring annual assessments of price trends for supplies and equipment purchased by the Department to identify and address items that are subject to unjustified price escalation; (2) requiring the Department to develop a systematic process for defining requirements for contract services, similar to processes already in place for products; and (3) clarifying the government’s right to use technical data that is developed exclusively at governmental expense when needed to ensure competition for follow-on contracts.
    • Requires the Department of Defense to establish, maintain, and report annually on acquisition baselines for the missile defense programs of the Missile Defense Agency, which will improve the management, oversight and performance of such programs.
  • Improving the Energy Efficiency of the Department of Defense.  Played a leading role in the enactment of provisions that facilitate the reduction of dependency on fossil fuels and provide for improved energy security and independence by --
    • Requiring the Secretary of Defense to establish a comprehensive strategy for addressing military impacts of renewable energy projects and other energy projects, with the objective of ensuring that the robust development of renewable energy sources and the expansion of the commercial electrical grid may move forward in the United States, while minimizing or mitigating any adverse impacts on military operations and readiness.
    • Removing impediments to the efficient use of energy savings performance contracts, making it easier for DOD and other federal agencies to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities.
    • Authorizing a consolidated DOD advanced ground vehicle technology program to develop and deploy advanced technology ground vehicles and their component parts and maximize cooperation with industry, academia, and other federal agencies.
    • Requiring the Secretary of Defense to develop a comprehensive master plan for improving the energy efficiency of DOD facilities, including specific consideration for rooftop solar and other energy-saving technologies in all new facilities and renovations.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.  Cosponsored legislation and helped lead efforts in the Senate to repeal the 1993 law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  Under the new law, the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must certify in writing that the appropriate regulations have been reviewed and drafted and that implementation of repeal regulations “is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.”  The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law will be formally repealed 60 days after certification.

MICHIGAN-BASED DEFENSE PROCUREMENT

Littoral Combat Ship.  Strongly supported a successful proposal by Lockheed Martin and Marinette Marine of Marinette, Wisconsin, to build the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship.  The Marinette Marine shipyard is located just across the state line near Menominee, Michigan, and relies heavily on Michigan workers and suppliers.  On December 21, 2010, the Senate approved legislation strongly supported by Senator Levin to allow the Navy to award construction of 10 Littoral Combat Ships each to Marinette Marine and a shipyard in Alabama.  This award is expected to be worth more than $3.6 billion and result in at least 500 direct jobs in Michigan, and support up to an additional 2,500 jobs at supplier companies throughout the state. 

MICHIGAN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.  Worked with the Michigan delegation to secure funding for continuation of conceptual design and initiation of engineering work for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), which will be built at Michigan State University beginning in 2013.  MSU is now the home of the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL), which is currently the most advanced rare isotope accelerator in the United States and is the largest nuclear science facility on a university campus. FRIB is the next generation rare isotope facility and is critical to maintenance of MSU’s preeminence in this field. 

Naval Engineering Education Center.  Strongly supported a successful proposal by the University of Michigan and other universities to lead the Navy’s Naval Engineering Education Center (NEEC).  The NEEC is designed to increase the number of both undergraduate and graduate students who graduate with an accredited science or engineering degree; provide an environment for world-class faculty specializing in naval engineering; coordinate employee development opportunities to retain naval engineering talent for the Navy; and increase the availability of naval engineering education programs and courses across universities and colleges.  Under the NEEC, undergraduate and graduate students will participate in “project-based education” to achieve real-world naval engineering experience.  NEEC project teams from the universities, along with a Navy engineer or scientist assigned to the team, will tackle current and future technical challenges, including the use of alternative energy sources, energy conservation, total ownership cost reduction, use of unmanned vehicles, advanced ship design methods and maintenance reduction.  In return, students will also receive stipends, scholarships, and/or employment opportunities with the Navy following graduation.  Sen. Levin participated in the kick-off event for the NEEC at the University of Michigan on July 26, 2010. 

Back to top

Reforming Government

Exposing Wrongdoing Underlying the Financial Crisis.  Conducted an in-depth, bipartisan investigation and held four hearings exposing wrongdoing that led to the recent financial crisis that pushed the country into a deep recession and continues to afflict working families.  Hearings exposed conflicts of interest, excessive risk-taking, inflated credit ratings, and regulatory failures, using four detailed case histories.  The case histories examined high-risk mortgage lending by Washington Mutual Bank, the largest bank failure in U.S. history; regulatory inaction by the Office of Thrift Supervision which oversaw Washington Mutual’s demise; inflated credit ratings that misled investors, issued by the nation’s two largest credit rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s; and high risk, deceptive financial products designed and sold by Goldman Sachs, which foisted billions of dollars of losses on investors, while the firm itself profited from betting against the mortgage market as a whole and against the very products it designed and sold to investors.  The investigative findings helped provide a factual foundation for the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. 

Fighting Government Waste and Fraud. Cosponsored legislation that provides additional protections to federal employees who report violations of law.  The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2010 passed the Senate.

Protecting Michigan Communities from Unfair Flood Insurance Rate Increases.  Worked with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to modify their flood re-mapping efforts for certain Michigan communities to more accurately take into account local circumstances. 

Safeguarding Federal Bank Deposit Insurance.  Helped convince federal bank regulators to sign a revised interagency memorandum strengthening the ability of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to conduct prompt and thorough examinations of insured banks to assess the risks they pose to the Federal Deposit Insurance Fund.  

Combating Corruption.  As Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, held hearings and released a report exposing how some politically powerful foreign government officials, their family members, and associates have used gaps in U.S. law and the assistance of U.S. professionals to funnel millions of dollars in illicit money into the United States.  Case histories detailed the misuse of U.S. lawyers, lobbyists, bankers, and real estate and escrow agents to bring suspect funds into the country, while the report offered bipartisan recommendations to strengthen U.S. laws and stop the flow of corrupt funds.  

Stopping Shell Companies Involved in Criminal Misconduct.  As Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, continued an investigation into how states establish nearly two million companies each year without knowing who is behind them, inviting terrorist financing, money laundering, tax evasion, and other misconduct.  Continued to champion legislation, S. 569, to require the states to obtain beneficial ownership information for the corporations formed within their borders. 

Examining Stock Market Trading Abuses.  As Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, held a joint hearing with a Banking Subcommittee to examine stock market dysfunctions and trading abuses that threaten market stability and investor confidence.  Examined regulatory problems with overseeing 13 public exchanges; over 240 less transparent, off-exchange trading venues; and high-speed, high-volume trading strategies that execute multiple transactions on multiple markets simultaneously.

Back to top