Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) - Retiring Rep. John Dingell has a fractured hip and it will take time for the 88-year-old Michigan Democrat - Congress' longest serving member - to recover. 

An update was posted Saturday on Facebook by his wife, Debbie Dingell, who was elected to the seat last month.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-MI, is the "richest" member of Congress from Michigan, according to CQ Roll Call.
Republican Conference / Flickr

Since 1990, CQ Roll Call has collected financial disclosures from all 541 Senators, Representatives and delegates and compiled an annual list of the "richest" and "poorest" members of U.S. Congress.

Below are the top 3 "richest" members of Congress and their minimum net worth for 2014:

  • Rep. Fred Upton R-Michigan: Net worth $7.3M
  • Rep. Dave Camp R-Michigan: Net worth $6.59M
  • Rep. John D. Dingell D-Michigan: Net worth $3.52M

Below are the top 3 "poorest" members of Congress and their net worth for 2014:

  Today on Stateside:

  • MLive Capitol reporter Jonathon Oosting talks about a request that has been submitted for a Christmas Nativity scene on government property.
     
  • Cadillac is moving its headquarters, along with its 140 employees, to New York City. Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes tells us what’s behind the move.
     
  • Ken Estelle, CEO of Feed American West Michigan, joins us to talk about the challenges of getting fresh food to food banks during the winter months and what you can do to help.
     
  • Finalist on the second season of NBC’s “The Voice” and former Mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club, Tony Lucca discusses his experiences as a performer and how his Michigan identity has influenced his music.
     
  • Sheryl Gay Stone, author of a recent piece for the New York Times, talks to us about the challenges new Congressional members face in transitioning to D.C.
     
  • Jack Lessenberry and Todd Spangler examine what we can expect from Michigan’s five new members of Congress.
     
  • The Henry Ford Hospital recently designed a new hospital gown that preserves patient modesty, incorporates new fabric and uses color coding to help staff identify patient conditions. We talk to designer Michael Forbes about what inspired the changes.

*Listen to the full program above 

Freshman year in Congress isn't that different from freshman year in college.

Michigan has five new "rookie representatives-elect" that now have to worry about making new friends, finding a place to live, and even taking part in a freshman orientation before they can begin their work.

We talked to Sheryl Gay Stolberg, author of the New York Times piece After Victory Laps, Settling In As Rookies, about what new Congressional members go through during the transition to Washington.

Theresa Thompson / Flickr

Hahaha! No. We're just kidding. 

It's really hard. 

But we were serious about there being only two steps. 

We looked into this question as part of our MI Curious project - people send in their questions about Michigan or its people, questions are put up for a vote, then we look into the winning question.

This time, the winning question came from Michael Bieri.

"What would it take to realistically end gerrymanding in Michigan?" 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Congressman John Dingell is in the hospital. 

Dingell was admitted to Henry Ford Hospital after complaining of abdominal pain.

A spokesman says the 88-year-old congressman is receiving intravenous antibiotics and is expected to remain in the hospital for a few days.  Dingell is the longest-serving member of Congress in American history. He was first elected in 1955. He announced earlier this year he plans to retire after his current term.  

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

These days, getting pretty much any kind of environmental policy made into law involves a lot of fighting and delay.

New research from Michigan State University finds Americans are becoming more divided over environmental protection and they seem to be getting their cue mainly from Congress.

Aaron McCright is a sociologist at MSU and the lead author of the study. He writes that things weren’t always so partisan. In fact, many landmark environmental laws were born during the Nixon Administration.

From 'Red Scare' to 'Green Menace'

But then the Soviet Union fell and, according to McCright's research, the American conservative movement (consisting of major conservative think tanks, wealthy families, and conservative foundations) moved its focus away from former communists toward what they saw as the 'green menace'.

"This really came through in the late 80s and early 90s, so this anti-environmentalism of the conservative movement was driving the changing policy stance of the Republican party and it's mostly because of a significant drop off in pro-environmental voting among Republicans in both the House and the Senate,"said McCright. "Whereas the Democrats just sort of continued on a light, upward trend in pro-environmental voting."

Primary elections in Michigan will be held on August 5. Voters in parts of Detroit and Wayne County will decide between two Democratic candidates in the 13th Congressional District. The incumbent is John Conyers Jr. The challenger is The Rev. Horace Sheffield III.

Before we start talking about 2014, let me take you back 50 years:

“In your heart, you know he’s right. Vote for Barry Goldwater.”

“Vote for President Johnson on November 3rd. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.”

Amy Temple / The Center for Public Integrity

Arsenic is nearly synonymous with poison. But most people don't realize that they consume small amounts of it in the food they eat and the water they drink.

Recent research suggests even small levels of arsenic may be harmful. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been prepared to say since 2008 that arsenic is 17 times more toxic as a carcinogen than the agency now reports.

Women are especially vulnerable. EPA scientists have concluded that if 100,000 women consumed the legal limit of arsenic each day, 730 of them eventually would get lung or bladder cancer.

The EPA, however, hasn’t been able to make its findings official, an action that could trigger stricter drinking water standards. The roadblock: a single paragraph inserted into a committee report by a member of Congress, an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found.

Congressman John Conyers.
Photography Courtesy of www.conyers.house.gov

DETROIT (AP) - Longtime Congressman John Conyers has joined a federal lawsuit taking aim at the requirement that petition collectors be registered voters.

Conyers joined the suit Thursday, two days after Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett determined he doesn't have enough signatures to appear on the Aug. 5 Democratic primary ballot.

The suit was filed against Garrett and Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson by the ACLU on behalf of two petition circulators and others. The signatures they gathered weren't counted because they hadn't complied with state voter registration requirements.

Conyers first was elected to the House in 1964. He represents Michigan's 13th district, including Detroit and several suburbs.

The ACLU also asked the court to order Garrett and Johnson to stop enforcing the law the group deems unconstitutional.

Johnson's office declined comment.

Congressman John Conyers.
Photography Courtesy of www.conyers.house.gov

Congressman John Conyers turns 85 on Friday, but a petition-gathering snafu is likely not the birthday gift Conyers would have wished for.

He’ll be filing an appeal with the state after yesterday's announcement by Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett that Conyers did not have enough valid signatures on his nominating petitions to be on the August primary ballot.

Garrett says only 592 of the necessary 1,000 signatures are valid. Many signatures were disqualified because the people collecting the signatures were not registered voters. According to law, that voids the signatures they collected.

If his appeal to the state fails, Conyers is talking about mounting a write-in campaign for the primary.

All of this has those who have watched John Conyers since he was first elected to Congress in 1964 thinking about his "epic journey" through the decades, and what an ending to a career this could be.

Michigan Radio's political commentator Jack Lessenberry joined us today to talk about this.

*Listen to the interview above.

If you like irony, think about this. Sixty years ago, the president of General Motors was nominated to be Secretary of Defense.

Today, we remember only one thing about “Engine Charlie” Wilson – his famous quote: “I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa.”  Today, that would almost certainly have sunk his nomination.

Back then, it caused scarcely a ripple. Wilson died in 1961, and I wonder what he would say if he came back to life and learned that Chrysler was owned by the Italians, Ford was about to have a Jewish CEO and his beloved GM had not only gone bankrupt, it was now a much smaller company run by a woman. Oh yes, and by the way – the president of the United States is black.

Polling place.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today we spoke with Michigan Radio’s political analyst, Jack Lessenberry, about the upcoming elections.

We are a little more than four months away from the statewide primaries, the statewide Republican and Democratic conventions, and some seven months away from the general election in November. Among many local and Congressional races, that's also when Michiganders will go to the polls to vote for Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State. 

Congressmen don’t stay on the job forever, though it sometimes seems like it.

This year will be the last for Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, first elected in 1978, and Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, the all-time longevity champ, who has represented a Detroit-area district since 1955.

Their retirements, while momentous, weren’t very surprising. Indeed, Carl Levin announced that he wouldn’t run for re-election more than a year ago. Far more shocking was the sudden decision by two mid-Michigan Republican Congressmen to bow out.

Both Rep. Dave Camp, R-Michigan, and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, had safe seats, a fair amount of seniority, and are youngish men by congressional standards. Yet within the last few days, both said they wouldn’t run for re-election.

That set off something of a mad scramble.

Today is the day. After months and months of debate, Healthy Michigan is here. That's the official name for the state's newly expanded Medicaid program. Today, on Stateside: Who is eligible for the new coverage and why are other states looking to Michigan for lessons learned?

Then, it made news: the merger between financially struggling Albion High School and its neighbor, Marshall. Now, more than halfway through the school year, we checked in on how the students are faring.

And, a new report is breaking new ground in the study of inequality among our children, and the findings for Michigan children are troubling.

First on the show, another hugely surprising retirement from Congress. Republican Congressman Dave Camp, who represents Michigan's 4th district, announced that he will not run again for re-election. Camp has served in Congress for 24 years and has been chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, co-hosts of Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics, joined us today to talk about what’s next for Camp and what this means for Michigan in Congress.

Congressman Dave Camp with John Boehner.
user republicanconference / Flickr

Another hugely surprising retirement from Congress: Republican Congressman Dave Camp, who represents Michigan's 4th district, announced that he will not run again for re-election. Camp has served in Congress for 24 years and has been chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, co-hosts of Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics, joined us today to talk about what’s next for Camp and what this means for Michigan in Congress.

Listen to the full interview above.

Official White House portrait

President Barack Obama will issue a call for expanding economic opportunity in his State of the Union address. He'll press a divided Congress to help shrink the income gap between the rich and poor, while asserting that he will take action on his own if lawmakers don't.

U.S. Congress / congress.gov

What a difference three months makes.

After the knock-down, drag-out budget debacle that shut the government down in October, here we are in January. And, perhaps goaded by the furious reaction of most Americans to last fall’s budget showdown, last week saw both chambers of Congress quietly and meekly passing a $1 trillion federal budget deal.

Detroit Free Press Washington reporter Todd Spangler joined us today to talk about this deal.

We last updated this post at 7:19 p.m. ET.

A woman who authorities say tried to ram a security barrier outside the White House led the Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police on a high-speed chase that ended near Capitol Hill, where gunshots were fired by police. Congressional lawmakers were briefly ordered to shelter in place, but by 3 p.m. ET, police had lifted the lockdown.

The incident left a suspect dead and two police officers injured. The 1-year-old child who was in the car with the suspect is OK and in protective custody.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Michigan’s congressional delegation is weighing in on the President’s call for congressional authorization for military action in Syria.

Michigan’s senior U.S. Senator says he’s glad the President is seeking congressional approval for a military strike against Syria.

In a written statement, Democratic Senator Carl Levin says “A congressional vote to authorize the use of force would strengthen the President’s decision to take military action.” Levin adds the President should also use this time to help the Syrian people “defend themselves”.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash says he wants the House to go back into session to address potential military action against Syria.

A U.S. military strike is expected in the next few days in response to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Amash told a group at a Battle Creek coffee shop today that the president must consult with Congress first.

“If the president intends to use force, we expect to be called back into session,” says Amash, “We demand we be called back into session to have a vote.”

A survey conducted by Michigan State University's Charles Ballard shows an improved approval rating for Governor Snyder.
MSU

When you think about the government – local, state, or federal - how much do you trust those leaders whom you've elected?

We certainly know that public approval ratings for Congress are at abysmally low levels. The latest Gallup poll finds 78% of U.S. voters disapprove of the job Congress is doing; only 17% approve.

Let's look more closely at what we all think about our leaders. And for that, we've raised that special 50-50 flag, that's half Wolverine maize and blue and half Spartan green and white. Charley Ballard, who directs the State of the State Survey for Michigan State University, and Tom Ivacko, who does the Michigan Public Policy surveys for the University of Michigan's Center for Local, State and Urban Policy, both joined us in the studio today.

Do you trust your government? What about your government? Do your elected leaders trust you?

Disapproval rates of Congress are at all-time lows - gridlock, and indecision. Can we change the dynamic, and what does it mean going forward?

And census results show a surprising trend: the state's male population is growing. We took a look at what's behind the numbers.

Also we spoke with Michael Narlock, head of Astronomy at the Cranbrook Institute of Science, about the best places to go in Michigan for stargazing this summer.

And Darrin Camilleri, President of the Michigan Federation of College Democrats, joined us to talk about increasing tuition and raised interested rates for student loans.

Also we continued our week-long series of stories from immigrants about what America means to them.

Today we heard from Linda Steinke, whose family came to the U.S. from Iran in the 1970s when her father had the opportunity to work in the auto industry.

First on the show, the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected has filed language with the Secretary of State to put another petition on the 2014 ballot. The group wants to ban wolf hunting in Michigan.

If the language is approved, the group will try and collect more than 160 thousand signatures to put the question to voters.

Rick Pluta, the Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network joined us today.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a dispute between President Obama and congressional Republicans which is directly affecting the lives of Michigan workers.

At issue is the president’s authority to make "recess" appointments.

Recess appointments are made when the president fills a governmental position while the Congress is in recess.

In this case, President Obama filled three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board without getting his appointees confirmed by Congress.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

One of the criticisms frequently aimed at Congress is that "gridlock" where decisions come slowly, if at all, as both sides draw their respective lines in the sand, and there's just not much compromising.

That is not the case with state legislatures across the country where, thanks to one-party control in 37 states, we're seeing action and lots of it.

Stateline is an independent, non-partisan news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts. This week it released its annual review of state legislatures, giving us a look at the major budget and policy developments at all 50 state capitols.

Scott Greenberger, an editor for Stateline, joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

user Tqycolumbia / Wikimedia Commons

A piece of history is being written in the United States Congress.

Tomorrow is the day that John Dingell becomes the longest-serving member of Congress ever, surpassing the late Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

He began representing the people of southeast Michigan on December 13, 1955. And 57-and-a-half years later, he is still there.

He joined us today to talk about his experiences.

Listen to the full interview above.

He's worked with 11 presidents, taken several thousand votes, and tomorrow, Michigan Congressman John Dingell becomes the longest serving member of Congress ever. We spoke with Dingell about his 57 years in D.C.

And, Shakespeare in the Arb is starting its 13th season with “Much Ado About Nothing.” Katherine Mendeloff, a lecturer in the Drama Department of the Residential College, spoke with us about the upcoming performances.

And, this weekend, Harry Potter fans are gathering in Michigan to watch college quidditch teams compete. Former player Krystina Packard joined us in the studio.

Also, a new project launched in Ann Arbor is working to bring together high school students and senior citizens to make history come alive. We spoke with the project’s co-founder and one of the participating teachers about how this has impacted students.

First on the show, it's time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes.

This week, it seems the topic is the fact that the proverbial "Day of Reckoning" is at hand when it comes to the City of Detroit. Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is trying to work out settlements with the city's creditors, and the treasures at the Detroit Institute of Arts could be at risk.

He joined us in the studio today to discuss the issue.

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Members of the new 113th Congress were sworn in last week, and they went about picking their leaders.

Republicans in the House of Representatives still hold a majority, so Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) was elected to a second term as Speaker of the House.

But the votes didn't come without controversy as Politico reported:

In an unusually suspenseful roll-call vote of the new House of Representatives, Boehner garnered 220 votes, but 12 Republican lawmakers either opposed him, voted present or abstained.

That was a change from his unanimous election to the Speakership two years ago. A group of Republican representatives led an 'anti-Boehner' effort the day of the vote. Roll Call reported Michigan Rep. Justin Amash played a 'key role' in the effort against Boehner. 

Republican Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina and Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho played key roles in organizing the plot. But participants describe its origin as organic and not led by any particular member, despite the suggestion by at least one House Republican that Amash was the ringleader. 

One member who participated in the effort described it as the work of small groups of Republican lawmakers who concluded independently that new leadership was needed in the speaker’s office. After learning of their agreement on the subject through discussions on the House floor during the week or two before Thursday’s vote, they decided to band together in an attempt to assemble a group of 25 members committed to opposing Boehner.

UPI reports Boehner told the group of twelve in a privatee meeting that he doesn't hold grudges and that his door will always be open to them.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Congress passed a bill Tuesday that would prevent the U.S. from falling over the 'fiscal cliff.'

Addressing the bill’s impact on Michigan were Daniel Howes of the Detroit News and Jack Lessenberry of Michigan Radio.

“The Michigan Republicans in the delegation were clearly split on this… a lot of them didn’t like it. The Bush tax cuts the Democrats spent the last ten years railing against were essentially made permanent for 98% of the tax payers,” said Howes.

According to Howes, much of the state's workers will witness increased taxes this year.

“About 77% of people who work are going to be paying higher taxes,” said Howes.

“Everybody seems to object to paying for things they get… most of the tax increases are restoring the Social Security payroll tax to what it used to be,” said Lessenberry.

Michigan’s top budget official is praising Congress for averting the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Budget Director John Nixon said sweeping tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts could have seriously hurt the state’s finances.

“The good news is that I think as far as the whole economy is concerned, what they did yesterday was big for the state of Michigan,” said Nixon.

Nixon said he was most worried going over “the cliff” would have led to another recession.

That could have affected the state’s ability to pay for many basic programs and projects.

State officials say they’re keeping close watch on upcoming negotiations in Washington. They could include proposed cuts to state-administered programs like Medicaid and food stamps.

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