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Michigan U.S. Reps. Fred Upton and Debbie Dingell will co-chair a bipartisan congressional working group in response to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and school staff.

They were named co-chairs by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. The caucus is composed of 24 members each from the Republican and Democratic parties who work together on key issues.

Upton, a Republican from St. Joseph, said he and Dingell are committed to finding common ground in the “heated” gun debate.

“We all share in the heartbreak from the senseless tragedy in Florida,” Upton said in a statement. “As co-chairs of this new working group we will spend the coming days and weeks continuing our productive work. We owe it to our constituents to try.”

“We all have a responsibility to ensure our students feel safe at school. We cannot afford to go to our corners and have the same politically charged conversation that gets us nowhere,” said Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat.

Sanders stopped in Flint

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders made a quiet stop in Flint after a loud rally in Lansing on Sunday night, visiting First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church for a meeting organized with the help of the Rev. Ezra Tillman and Deacon Bill R. Quarles.

Sanders later said he had pledged to return to the church while campaigning for president in 2016, when the city’s water contamination crisis garnered national attention. The Vermont Independent ran as a Democrat and scored an upset win in the Michigan primary over eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.

In a statement, Sanders said he “once again saw a community that is economically and socially oppressed and in desperate need of our help. I also saw some beautiful and strong people of all ages working tirelessly to improve that community.”

Sanders was joined at the Flint meeting by Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, who helps run the “Our Revolution” organization that spun out of his presidential campaign, along with community members and activists.

“The impact of the water crisis continues to be enormous, and government at all levels is not doing enough,” Sanders said. “The work of Pastor Tillman and all those I met in Flint is extraordinary, and I look forward to continuing to work with them.”

Peters delivers address

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters on Monday became the third senator from Michigan to deliver the Senate’s annual reading of President George Washington’s Farewell Address on the chamber floor – a tradition since 1896 in honor of Washington’s birthday.

Michigan U.S. Sens. Julius C. Burrows and Arthur Vandenberg delivered it in 1902 and 1930, respectively. The tradition dates to February 1862 during the Civil War.

Peters, a Democrat from Bloomfield Township, has a family connection to Washington. His forefather, William Garrett, served in the Virginia militia alongside Washington at Valley Forge during the bitterly cold winter of 1777-78, according to Peters’ office.

As is custom, at the conclusion of each reading, Peters signed his name and wrote a personal note in a book kept by the secretary of the Senate. Peters wrote in part:

“As I stood on the Senate floor today, the descendant of an American revolutionary soldier and the son of a French immigrant, reading Washington’s Farewell Address reminded me that despite our differences, we are one American people that make up one great American nation. I don’t know whether Washington had any idea of how truly great this nation would become, but he certainly knew that division, whether between political parties or geographic regions, would weaken us.

“Throughout our history, we have faced trying times and serious crises, but Washington’s words should remind all of us in this chamber that we must find a way to work together without regard to political party and find the commonsense compromises that will help solve the challenges we face today and in the future.”

DeVos, Acosta meet with gov

Gov. Rick Snyder and other governors in Washington for the meetings of the National Governors Association met Monday with President Donald Trump and other administration officials at the White House.

Snyder was invited to join a workforce development meeting with U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Acosta and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, according to his office.

“He said it was a productive morning,” said Press Secretary Anna Heaton.

Snyder remained in Washington until Tuesday to speak to international corporation representatives as part of a panel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Invest in America” conference.

Patterson endorses Kowall

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson endorsed state Sen. Mike Kowall in the GOP primary in the 11th District, where Republican Rep. Dave Trott is retiring.

“Mike Kowall is the kind of guy who gets things done and that’s what we need in Washington,” Patterson said in a statement released by Kowall’s campaign.

Other candidates vying for the GOP nomination include businesswoman Lena Epstein of Bloomfield Township; state Rep. Klint Kesto of Commerce Township; former state House Majority Leader Rocky Raczkowski of Troy; former U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Milford; and Kristine Bonds of West Bloomfield Township.

Contributors: Jonathan Oosting and Melissa Nann Burke

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