Opinion: Congress fights for Michigan priorities

John Moolenaar
Advocacy groups are lobbying Congress to pump more money into programs to protect Great Lakes water quality.

Last month’s promise from President Donald Trump was the first public statement of support from a sitting president for fully funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative during my four years in Congress.

I know that protecting the Great Lakes is a vital concern to all of us in Michigan, and that is why Congressmen Bill Huizenga and Jack Bergman and I asked the president to change course on his previous budget proposal, which had reduced funding for the GLRI.

We’re thankful that he did. This isn't the first time we've had to advocate for the GLRI to receive its full annual funding of $300 million. In fact, in one of my first hearings in Congress in 2015 I asked President Obama's budget director why his budget proposal cut the GLRI by $50 million.

Each time in the past four years, when an administration would propose cutting the GLRI, a bipartisan group in Congress made sure we stopped the cuts and passed the full $300 million.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee which decides funding for federal programs, I will do everything I can to work with my colleagues and fulfill the president's commitment to fully fund the GLRI.

The funding for the GLRI comes back to Michigan in many ways, promoting clean-up of our waterways and funding long-term research on the Lakes. The Institute for Great Lakes Research at Central Michigan University uses its GLRI funding to study 10,000 miles of wetlands that flow into the Lakes.

On the Appropriations Committee, I am also working on funding other key priorities for our state.

Trump has requested $75 million in his budget for next year to advance the construction of a second, freighter-sized lock at the Soo Locks.

Right now, the lock is held together with extraordinary maintenance, and if it were to fail for an extended period of time it would cripple the American economy. Good-paying manufacturing jobs that rely on the iron ore that passes through the Locks would be lost and there would be a cascading effect from manufacturing into other parts of the economy.

I will be working to make sure this $75 million in funding is passed by Congress and sent to the president for his signature.

Our state continues to struggle with the opioid crisis. I will be working to provide robust funding grants from the federal government so states can tailor their prevention and treatment efforts to best meet the needs of their people.

I am also supporting funding for the National Institutes of Health so it can continue its research on non-addictive pain medications that will help patients recover and reduce the risk of addiction.

Another crucial goal of the NIH is advancing cures for Alzheimer's disease and cancer. These diseases have taken loved ones from all of us and I will again support funding to help us find cures for them as quickly as possible.

Protecting the Great Lakes, funding the Soo Locks, fighting the opioid crisis, and advancing the race against cancer and Alzheimer's are priorities for Michigan families and they are the priorities I am working on in Congress.

U.S. Congressman John Moolenaar represents Michigan’s Congressional District. He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.