Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton: Voices from across the aisle

February 18, 2019 1:16:13
Kaltura Video

Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton consider the opportunities for and obstacles to bipartisan cooperation, while also tackling in thoughtful dialogue some of the most pressing issues currently dividing the two parties, such as immigration policy, the government shutdown, and health care. February, 2019.


good afternoon everyone good afternoon

everyone welcome to the Ford school

I'm Michael Barr I'm the Joan and

Sanford Weill Dean of the Gerald R Ford

School of Public Policy it's my delight

and pleasure to welcome you here this

afternoon for this very special policy

talks at the Ford school event voices

from across the aisle and a welcome to

of Michigan's own representatives Debbie

Dingell and fred Upton we have brought

them together as part of our new

initiative conversations across

difference in a dialogue today moderated

by Ford Professor Brendan Nyhan I won't

read their extensive and impressive BIOS

which you have in your program as you

well know these are extremely

challenging times for our nation with

fractious political discourse gridlock

and partisanship in our nation's capital

and an increasing lack of trust in

institutions everywhere the relationship

between representative Dingell and Upton

is the antithesis of the partisan

politics operative today in Washington

this depth of the relationship has been

perhaps most pointedly displayed in the

last week with the passing of Debbie's

husband John Dingell Debbie we are so

sorry for your loss and in the course of

last week's event we heard wonderful

remarks from fred Upton a eulogy for

John that was really very very powerful

I'm John will be sorely missed by by

many of us here at the Ford school and

in our country our two guests today have

worked on numerous bipartisan efforts

together most recently during the

shutdown introducing emergency

legislation to allow states to make

unemployment benefits available to

unpaid federal workers congresswoman

Dingell and congressman Upton however do

represent different parties and

different constituencies parties and

people's with sometimes different

ideologies and different policy

positions this session will look at the

manner by which such divergence can help

or sometimes hinder the democratic

and how we can work better together I

think it's an especially appropriate way

for us to spend this afternoon of

President's Day let me just say a small

word on format' we'll have some time

towards the end for questions from the

audience please write your question on

the cards provided by our staff and our

staff will collect them joining me to

present the questions and really

presenting the questions themselves

rather than me our students Kate Weston

and Brett is as laughs key the new

co-presidents of we listen a wonderful

University of Michigan student group

that fosters dialogue across difference

here on campus for those of you who are

watching online please tweet your

questions using the hashtag policytalks

again welcome to all of you Brendan I'm

going to turn things over to you and

thank you very much all right thanks so

much everyone for being here congressman

up there I wanted to start by saying a

few words of the relationship between

the Fords and the Dingell so maybe I'll

turn the floor over to him

well it really is apropos I mean

President Ford really was known for

working across the aisle and great

tribute urge all of you to go to his

Presidential Library in Grand Rapids and

see some some of the things that he did

but it's interesting we did it we did a

tribute on the House floor earlier this

week seems like a month ago to john

dingo a mentor to me but obviously the

the dean of the house with just credible

credentials and we're so fortunate to

have as debbie now serve in that seat

and a Dingell representing southeast

Michigan for 86 years but I want to

share this with you because it's from

the Ford family Mike Ford actually sent

an email to Debbie Wednesday afternoon

and Jim and she shared it with me and

it's just a couple paragraphs I just

thought I'd read it because it's a good

intro for this afternoon Debbie since

learning of John's recent passing my

thoughts and prayers have been

consistent with you and your extended

family through my reading of the many


branches of attributes to John I have

been deeply moved and blessed to revisit

his remarkable legacy of leadership and

service to the people of Michigan into

all of our nation John and my father

though identified from competing

political parties holds so much in

common as men of wisdom integrity

compassion and selfless service for all

of humanity and their friendship was

true and enduring through a shared

lifetime calling of public service John

Dingell and Jerry Ford represent what is

good honorable and decent in our country

may you know of God's abiding comfort

but it's appropriate for where we really

want to see the country move we work

together to solve the nation's problems

Jerry Ford did that certainly John

Dingell did that Debbie and I try our

best to follow that path John and joy

Ford for friends for decades and they

did a lot of stuff together they really

did so I thought we could say that's a

beautiful way to start this this event

and really consistent with the kinds of

issues we'd like to talk about I

wondered if we could talk first about

bipartisanship and practice which is

something that you to practice in your

relationship as legislators and

something that people often hunger for

in this country we talk about a lot but

I actually think people don't hear about

it very much a lot of the bipartisan

work in Congress is is somewhat under

the radar the conflict gets more media

attention and more coverage so I wonder

if you could talk about an issue or two

where you've worked closely together in

your offices and collaborated so

shouldn't things that are relevant to us

here in southeast Michigan like pee fast

or opioids I'm and you know Congress

cars well maybe you could start and talk

about that you know first of all I want

to say I don't look at somebody and say

oh you're a Republican you know you're a

Democrat I look at somebody as an

individual who's coming from someplace

from I'm looking at rusty Hills who I've

known for decades maybe longer than Fred

I don't know which one up no longer I

don't look at rusty and say he's a

Republican he's someone I've worked with

for and I hope you're teaching the kids

well too

but you know you start you can't if you

want to pass something if you want to

get something done that's gonna be good

and right for this country you don't do


working for just one side you build a

coalition you find the common ground you

find the way that you can get something

done so for us I mean fred has been one

of my dearest friends he's always he'll

always be older than I am Mikami ground

and for the Michigan delegation the

common ground is Michigan we love this

state we want to do what's right for it

so the Great Lakes the auto industry

PFS so many issues that really matter to

people in this state that we talk with

each other how do you build that

coalition that will get done what's got

to get done to do what's right for the

state that we represent you know things

flip when I was first elected so I work

for President Reagan a lot of years ago

and he had a wonderful relationship with

the Congress you know Republican

president Democrat Congress but he got a

lot done in the country loved him when

he ran for re-election he won 49 states

I mean that's the real test you know and

he lost only Minnesota in one California

New York as a Republican but when I came

I never thought the Republicans would

ever be in the majority because they

hadn't been for my lifetime they really

hadn't and so I was I sat down with our

leadership and they brought in all the

Republican freshmen together and they

said you know a if you have a good idea

two things are gonna happen it's either

gonna get stolen or to be defeated

you're really you know you don't have a

lot of Republican votes here I said no

that's not gonna happen to me so I made

the decision that virtually every issue

that I've ever worked on has been


I'll reach across the aisle I got a lot

of Debbie four I got a lot of friends

like Debbie on the other side of the

aisle and a lot of Republicans on my

side that want to work together

and somehow I got to be end up chairman

of the Energy and Commerce Committee

through arguably the most important

committee in the Congress because we

have more jurisdiction than anybody else

and guess who taught me John Dingell who

was a great chairman for me and I like

to think I was a great chairman for him

because he was on the committee later on

and the proof in the pudding is that you

know we had a Democratic president

President Obama was president all my

tenure as chairman and guess what he's

something more than 200 bills that we

moved through our committee all on a

bipartisan basis you know one of those

that impacts everyone here a big time

and Debbie did a wonderful we had a

couple of roundtables here in Ann Arbor

called 21st century cures where we speed

up the approvals of drugs and devices we

added forty five billion dollars to

health research over ten years span and

NIH money is so important for all of our

educational institutions but if we're

going to find the cure for cancer and

Parkinson's and Alzheimer's it will be

because of the work that we did on this

bill Debbie had a great group here of

the different disease groups talking

about the need to make sure that we can

find the answers to these and it was

overwhelming powerful and at the end of

the day that bill took three years to

get done we passed it 390 to 226 on the

House floor in 92 to 8 in the Senate and

we went and it literally took the very

last day of the Congress to get it done

I mean you know we had to get cloture we

had all these different things in the

Senate to run things through but you

know it was bipartisan and it will

impact everybody's life on the planet so

let me let me also give a plea for the

value and of partisanship and

polarization sometimes the parties do

disagree and that's an important part of

our democracy too we should need to make

sure not to lose sight of that right

political scientists think parties are

essential to democracy parties help you

know contesting the issues of our day is

an important feature of our political

system too so I wondered if you could

talk about it

when you decide to move forward with a

policy issue on a partisan basis you

mentioned health care that's certainly

an issue where the parties have moved in

different directions not on that bill

right but on the core issue of the ACA

and whether it repeal it or not right

the parties have taken really different

paths so I wonder if you could talk

about the congresswoman the challenge of

policymaking on these issues where the

parties fundamentally disagree and what

can be done about her whether you should

just go on your own I don't think it was

good and I got in trouble with the Young

Turks because I said that I wish that

there had been Republican support and

actually portrait watch that soldier I

hit a tree skiing so I just had a little

surgery over here but I have great

friends on both sides of yeah so last

week there was a I love that Republicans

he's a Republican someone I know you can

tell how Fred feels that Louie come here

from Texas is I mean he and I did some

good look I know everybody thinks he's

crazy I love him but he is writing an

op-ed for Nolan Finley right now Fred

can't believe this and he is making the

point that if John Dingell had been and

I'm I don't want to get political this

is but he's making the point that if

John Diggle had been chair of the

committee the Affordable Care Act would

have been written with Democratic

Republican support and that it would

have Democrats would have had the

previous what he was telling Nolan on

Friday Democrats would have had the

problem they had in 2010 I think I built

when you are passing a bill of some

significant policy that if it is

partisan half the country's not going to

accept it

I'll tell you right now I don't know if

I'm gonna make somebody mad I don't know

if we if the time comes for impeachment

impeachment should never be done on a

partisan basis it's going to tear the

country apart

you need to have everybody there

understanding what that wrongdoing was

and you need to we're not Republicans or

Democrats we're Americans first

so I you

some I horrify everybody by saying some

days why do we need the two-party system

or there shouldn't we have independent

candidates so I'm not gonna go I mean I

do think that the parties provide us and

I I mean well I mean I don't know how

many people here know I was a Republican

when I'm married I knew that militant

Republican and Bill Milliken was more

liberal than John Diggle on some

subjects so I think it's important for

somebody who gets elected to know what

their values are and to know what you

stand for and to always stand for that

values and never never never not know

what you believe so let me just say two

things first of all I concur with what

Debbie said about John Dingell been

chairman of the Energy and Commerce

Committee if I didn't say it Louie did

all right Louis said all right I'm gonna

remind him next week when I see he it

would have been bipartisan I think that

there's some things that they could have

done to have done that and you know I

can remember when President Obama first

came into office and we did this big

stimulus package member was like 750

billion dollars and I went to Rahm

Emanuel and some others and said you

know I care about jobs we were going

through a terrible recession then a lot

of people you know we're really hurting

bad and there were some things as it

related to the auto industry that had

they done it I think looking back you

can ask her when you talk to her

tomorrow Candice Miller she was one of

my colleagues great great friend and

colleague no longer in the Congress but

she and I were both on the Auto caucus

and they done something on autos I think

we would have been there and I think we

did a motion recommit which is a little

inside baseball but it had that been as

an amendment on the bill you would have

got us on board you know the tax bill

that we did yes I believe strongly that

it really helped the economy could have

been better the coordinator could have

been better

no it could have been better I could and

I wish that that we had had some

Democratic votes for it then you should

have written a better bill well hide it

yeah time out wait a minute it wasn't

our committee in ways it means they have

this special right when they bring a

bill to the House floor

there's no amendments but they should

have had I worked with some of the folks

on the committee trying to get get it to

be where I think they would have had

some democratics Democrat votes but they

it was tragic that they didn't you know

I get some of those provisions included

so what do you think are the forces that

are the reason right so a lot of this

there are good people right there good

people we have good people on this stage

right but there there's an institutional

process right that's generating the

bills that people vote on right so how

do you think a lot of the bills that we

pass oh you read you know yet the 24/7

news and everybody watches one network

or the other depending but where their

mindset might be but at the end when you

really look so we just came through a

terrible shutdown the last five weeks

okay but look how it finished up 300

people voted for it Debbie and I two of

the 300 that voted for it it could have

happened five weeks ago it should have

happened five weeks ago that there was

actually a better deal that maybe would

have even had more votes at the end we

went through this terrible dilemma the

last five weeks that nobody was happy

with everybody was a loser and it was

really unfortunate but at the end it was

bipartisan to get us out of that hole

that we were in and the Senate did the

same thing I was with Gary Peters this

morning over in Holland and you know he

was one of those with debbie Stabenow

both our senators voted for it but it

passed three to one over there now you

know that wasn't what we saw Friday when

the president cited in the law but it

really was a bipartisan effort getting

putting Humpty Dumpty back together

again and all of us pretty disappointed

with what happened the previous five

weeks do you think that's gonna set a

precedent so I mean so let's let's talk

about the consequences of polarization

so something people worry about it it's

not just that the parties disagree it's

when government can't function because

of polarization right so the shutdown

has made that quite dramatic

right and there's definitely a

temptation right to take these more

extreme steps right there's a lot

waise as you both know to shut

government don't control things so you

got the hard right and the hard left but

most of us are in the in the main lane

there and if you allow so one of the

things that Debbie and I did a couple

years ago we joined this thing called

the problem solvers caucus and we had a

real win beginning last month January

when the rules of the house actually

were changed forced to change as frankly

I don't as an outsider

I don't think Nancy Pelosi would have

been speaker had she not agreed to those

changes to the rules changes but now

there is going to be a much greater

emphasis I think on bipartisanship on

forcing amendments that are bipartisan

to be allowed and debated on the House

floor where they were denied before and

we've been working together for the last

couple years now on a number of issues

but now with these rules changes we're

going to be in a better spot but because

if you can show it's bipartisan

the Rules Committee which is not

something you learn about in ninth grade

civics or even poli-sci when I went here

graduated from Michigan but that Rules

Committee dictates what amendments can

be allowed on the House floor after the

committee is done with them and if you

can promote bipartisan amendments that

may change that the whole thrust of that

bill whether it be a tax bill whether it

be a healthy or whatever all of a sudden

you put more emphasis in the middle

where if you can get agreement that's

gonna happen and and we're gonna push

that we got a couple of really good

ideas that we're going to be pursuing

whether it's on you know health policy

or some other things

congresswoman what do you think I think

we're at a precipice and I think you

know we're most focused and a lot of

people's lives were hurt by the most

recent shutdown there were people have

no idea you know really good I mean if

you just look at the Coast Guard the

custom and Border Patrol the TSA the FBI

Secret Service

we're all working and not being paid

they were if you meant I was trying to

meet with them almost every day or talk

to them and they were scared to death

you know all of those branches are if

you get a bad credit rating and you

could lose your job but they couldn't

afford to drive to work

they couldn't I had a woman from this

district that had been deemed essential

she couldn't afford to pay for her

daycare she was gonna lose her daycare

spot for her child she wasn't allowed to

take time off to take care of her child

even though she was not being paid

because her first status she would have

lost her job so she took the midnight

shift at Denny's to pay for her job and

I think there was more but remembered

that a year ago we had two shutdowns

almost back to back and I think all of

us have to look at what's happening in

our country it's not a way to govern I

think each of us Democrats and

Republicans have to look ourselves in

the eye I think this is a a this isn't

Republicans or Democrats we Democrats

have had these but we cannot let the far

right and the far left dictate what is

happening there I mean Fred I love you

but too many members of your party are

afraid to stand up when the president is

doing something wrong

because they're afraid what the impact

will be I I'm worried about what is

happening in the future of this country

and I think every Americans got a

responsibility to stand up to elect

people that are gonna do what's right

and we need to worry about this

democracy I think we live in the

greatest land in the world united we

stand divided we fall do you think there

are things we can do to pull the parties

back from that kind of those kinds of

extreme measures or is it just something

where you have to feel the political

caustics you both describe the human

costs and the political costs of the

shutdown but imagine a world where now

the Democrats have the opportunity

exploit the debt ceiling the way we

saw in the past right if the next time

the debt ceiling has to be increased

right that threatens financial chaos

right and you can stick something on

that use it to exploit your you you know

you exploit your levers to pursue some

policy priority right so the concern is

right that under those circumstances

right there are a lot of pressure points

that people can apply if they're more

extreme so is that something if for

folks who just both to kind of describe

ourselves being the main Lane of your

parties how do you keep both parties

from - from using those kinds of tactics

well def sealing is a is a tough vote

for anyone to vote for you know or a

Democrat is right but it has to be done

I mean we're we're on the tracks that

you know you're not gonna get a balanced

budget this year hey you know it's not

gonna happen under any under any

scenario and you know it's unfortunate

that there was actually a budget reform

effort at the end of last year there was

bipartisan but they had to get a

supermajority to get the votes to get it

done I was asked a little bit earlier

this morning you know we have this

one-year budget issue it ought to be a

two-year budget we're dealing with

trillions of dollars and you know the

budget is supposed to by law supposed to

be done by April 15th when I work for

President Reagan it came up to Capitol

Hill on the first week in January I

worked at the Office of Management and

Budget and we sent the Reagan budget up

in an ambulance because we were told it

was dead on arrival and so we wanted a

sort of a clever idea that we did and it

got a lot of attention and it was dead

on arrival urgent but it sort of sets

the stage well here we are now it's

already mid-february and because of the

shutdown we're not gonna see the

President's budget even released until

for another month how in the world are

we gonna you know live to the law that

it's got to be enacted by April 15th

ain't gonna happen so changing that

process which would include the debt

ceiling and that was

the ideas that they were looking at I

think we just have to realize that times

have changed from where we were before

and in it has to go up because otherwise

we default and if you default

that means interest rates are even gonna

be higher than they otherwise would have

been which only adds to the deficit I

mean it's just a it's it's a bad

snowball that goes down the mountain you

know you keep saying party system sort

of implying that the two-party system I

would actually argue with you that I

mean who is the Democratic Party we know

who is the Republican Party but it's

also the demo it's actually the

socialist democratic Justice Party which

is not I mean is a different party that

is that defeated Joe Crowley and AOC who

I love actually and and talk to a lot

it's people you know inside the

Democratic Party such as the same inside

the Republican Party that is terrifying

so each party has its own so I don't in

it too even when you talk about the

two-party system it's Ralph Nader that

kept Al Gore from being elected when you

look at the populist vote Ross Perot

Ross Perot so it's not it's clean if you

want to make it and there are a lot of

dynamics you got it absolutely well so

let me let me ask about one so let me

get so the parties are quite diverse

internally and that's one of the things

that creates opportunities for

bipartisanship in some cases so I want

to ask congressman up then about joining

the climate solutions caucus that's

that's an area where people are though

the parties may differ on how to address

climate change but the underlying

science and coming to agree on it yeah

and starting to find a path forward on

addressing it seems like an important

issues does anyone here not believe in

climate change and it's happening right

there may be one

Yoshio college is not in my district you

know I'm just me tell the truth yep yeah

I'm proud to be on that climate caucus

it's happening we all want I mean I grew

up on the shores of Lake Michigan well I

care about the environment

air and water and everything else and if

we can have a cleaner environment we are

all better off for it I was one that

publicly scolded the president for

pulling on a Paris let's have these

goals let's see if we can work together

and yeah I wasn't really happy that

China and India weren't part of that and

they get to go you know increasing their

missions dramatically over the next

couple of decades before they they come

to magic moment with Jesus on this but

at the end of the day we all got to work

on on the environment you know we're

gonna have a hearing it was canceled

this week but our first hitting is the

top Republican on the energy

subcommittee is gonna be on energy

efficiencies I'm glad you know I got a

new Jeep this year or I guess it was

last year I'm delighted that against 10

or 15 miles better per gallon I had two

miles per gallon and then my old Ford

and this one has four-wheel drive it I

needed it this morning

that's a terrible accidents but you know

we ought to be investing in that type of

energy efficiency so that we can reduce

emissions not only here but shall show

the way for the rest of the world yeah

this is a bipartisan caucus the climate

change group and I'm delighted to be

part of it and and it shows that you

know we do need to work together just

another issue of where we can get some

bipartisanship on an issue that most

Americans would agree is it really is

happening so congresswoman are you are

you optimistic so I was just on the hill

and I heard kind of two stories one that

the green new deal was potentially

polarizing Republicans and another that

this was maybe a moment where the

parties could find some common ground so

do you think climb is an area where

their progress can be made it is

okay question the green new deal maybe a

little bit too heavy the Republicans are

gonna try to force them both at

everything they can inside the Green

Deal let's be honest there's gonna be a

vote on it I even read in the Senate but

I do you know look we come from Michigan

so I I went to ALC Alexandra she's

actually become a good friend he would

like and he's a lot of people are trying

to figure out how we become good friends

with me being from an out of state but I

said to her I want you I want to work

with you on something I if part of the

Green Deal is to go to a carbonless

Society which means we got to keep

improving automobiles which means you

need electric vehicles but people aren't

buying electric vehicles because they

don't have confidence in the battery

they don't we have no infrastructure

system we have nothing so they don't

trust the range we've got to build an

infrastructure system to support it so

instead of Italy instead of everybody

you know the end of the world is here at

the end of the world is here let's work

together to do what we've got to do to

keep us put it in positive way and then

actually Rashida was with me on another

day and I said Rashida I'm inviting it

she's another colleague for those of you

I'm sorry I think everybody knows the

names of three Democrats we don't know

my side of the state but you know not me

I don't do that he doesn't but she's

gonna come to Detroit and we're gonna so

you know I get I don't mean by the way I

don't look at her and say she's a dimmer

and I don't I talked to people I find

where that common ground is because by

the way we do need to do something about


but I want to protect jobs and I want to

build the infrastructure so I don't

instead of looking at people oh that's

Republican or Democrat I look at

somebody where can we find their common

ground and actually find something

I think that's now this I think is the

difference between a man and a woman I

think women are problem solvers I think

we're used to balancing multiple balls

in the air

and we try to figure out and that's why

we need more women in politics and

that's why we need more women and

government cuz we look at things and we

don't look and say oh he's our view near

that we look at and say how do we solve

the problem and that's what I think we

need to do more of period alright well

that was good that was good so well

let's talk about in a hard issue to get

people together to solve problems on

which is immigration we just had a

government shutdown over it the

president has declared a national

emergency it's going to go to the courts

right there's a lot happening and one

thing I think that's important to think

about is is you know when the president

when any person gets involved in issue

it can sometimes actually make it harder

to find compromise so I wonder how you

think about this issue right where

Democrats actually are counter polarized

on immigration as Trump has come has

come out so strongly on it right you're

seeing more Democrats who are taking

more liberal positions on that issue

than they have in the past I wonder how

you think about how the the house is

going to be able to handle this issue

and what the right as a policy matter

what you think the right path forward is

well I hope that we can get this done

actually it's it was the first issue

that really brought the problem-solvers

caucus together on an issue it was newly

formed we were in a shutdown in December

of 1617 December 17 we're supposed to be

we're supposed to be home in our

districts doing something else

and we weren't getting out of session

and a bunch of us got together at

tijuana coat would Tijuana where does

that restaurant it wasn't Tijuana its

tortilla Coast yeah tortilla Coast he'd

out I know down in the basement

and then I drank your water remember I

started choking on my anyway all right

but we started working together there

are about thirty members of Congress

that literally filled up this space we

had two tables and we started you know

what is it that we have to do on

immigration reform to really open up the

process so we can have some votes

because it's broken it's going on way

too long

not only for employers but you know the

the dreamers and the daca kids and all

these different issues that just it

breaks your heart and I worked with

Debbie on a couple of cases individuals

in her district to try and help her so

they could stay I've got a couple people

on my side of the state as well that it

just just breaks your heart and we made

a difference I mean we we forced it but

then at the end we didn't have the votes

to get it done in the house or the

Senate and the Senate they actually got

couple different versions again and

their bipartisan groups that came

together and our group problem solvers

met with the president President Trump a

couple weeks ago during the shutdown

I didn't yeah you were supposed to go

but you didn't you anyway was by it

really had about you know 15 members or

so down in the Situation Room we talked

about immigration and you know the

president I know he'd like to see us

move this is on the overt not the wall

part but yeah he does want to go there

but I mean on the other issue of

dreamers and others he spoke to the

American Farm Bureau National Conference

in New Orleans a couple weeks ago and in

his speech he talked about solving the

issue for the AG workers yeah that's

that's gonna be hard to do but it's got

to happen and as I told the president I

complimented on that but I said we

there's some low-hanging fruit here a

lot of us thought that this whole

shutdown issue if you go back look at

The Wall Street Journal or now you look

at the Chamber of Commerce and some

other people some proposals they really

thought there was a

and deal that we could do that he could

do both border security and you could

combine a number of elements on the

immigration side that would make some

sense to get a package to get it done

legal status for folks that have been

here I mean a whole number of different

things and at the end that part didn't

make it in the equation it has to though

we've gone too long and I know that just

this week in fact I was sitting behind

Steny Hoyer at the funeral and for Jonna

I'm Thursday and I you know I was doing

business you know and before it started

I was talking to - Steny who's the

majority leader number two position in

the house and there's been there was a

public effort this week to talk about

some legislation with dreamers that'll

be bipartisan so I want to say hundreds

of businesses have signed on to some

letters of support to try and get things

done and I leaned over to study and said

we've got to make sure that this is

bipartisan because we got a lot of

Republicans they want to work on this to

try and get it done and I'd like to

think that we can it's it's a major

issue for me particularly as I know so

many of these folks and their individual

stories and some of the bad things that

are happening to them because we don't

have status for them that that's really

got to get it so I'm I'm hopeful I'm a

Cubs fan I'll confess a you know I root

for the Tigers as well but so I'm an

optimist and I'm encouraged that we can

get something done on this and I know

that our problem solvers group has been

very involved in this really from the

first moment of its inception do you

have anything you wanna add in Congress

one we need comprehensive immigration

reform we need to get some balls and get

it done it's been we've needed to get it

done for 20 years the daca kids they are

Americans in every single way these kids

I mean they're your classmates they go

to school with you they just they they

they're paying taxes they're fighting

and defending in this country and

they've become a political football so

that's where we got to find that in

getting businesses

we got to build the coalition that's

just gonna get this done once and for

all and that's that's what business has

become much more involved in it I mean

we did the hospitality and entertainment

industry the construction industry the

agriculture industry they all have

economic issues here so we got to build

the coalition that's gonna bring people

from both sides and say and that's

enough let's get this done the country

needs to get us done and let us stop and

stand up to the people trying to divide

this country with fear and hatred and we

need to do that on both sides of the


stand up to it call bigotry for what it

is and stop letting people divide us

with fear and hatred so what we have

what let's take up that point I mean so

when people worry about our political

system it's not just that the parties

disagree right it's the way they view

the other side so I wonder if we could

talk about that a little more like what

do you see of the forces that make it so

hard for these compromises to be found

and and to what extent you think what

are the factors that are making your

colleagues in some cases appeal to the

worst in people or be more competitive

and uncivil than we'd like to see

because we do see it in public opinion

right we see people see the other party

in more negative terms than they have in

the past right so people are getting

this kind of message about the other

side I wonder how you know why you think

that is about what we can do about it

they see all politics from a negative

perspective yeah so you want me to go


you got it you got to reach out and find

people on the other side of the aisle

that you can work with and I got it you

know this is early in the Congress for

this Congress you know we went through

this you know terrible thing the last

five weeks things now I think get back

to normal when we come back into session

next week but I think it's it's the

caucuses it's your state delegations

it's the votes that you have that you

really do you know I've not met a OC yet

I know she is you know seen her but I've

not been anywhere close to say hello but

you got you got to build those

relationships and see people look at you

in in Reverse side of having respect for

you know willing to stand up you know


when you need to honor any particular

issue and and to build that relationship

of trust that hopefully can try to get

things done I would also say that the

Congress needs to remember that they're

an equal branch of government to the

executive branch and the Congress needs

to stand up and do its job

I guess I'd I'm would encourage you all

to read something that was in The

Washington Post last week okay you

finish well Big John on his name day

wrote a really wonderful piece that

really reflected on his career and where

the country needed to go and we should

have actually made copies and had him

here but you can you can google it and

it was more than just the Washington

Post it was the national news broadcast

news it's it's everywhere you can find

it real easy but he you know he he will

he was involved in every issue though

since I've been live I mean he was

voting on those issues Steny Hoyer made

the point at the funeral earlier this

week that John had already been in

Congress 25 years before he was elected

and then they served 38 years together

so he saw these debates and he really

offered pearls of wisdom for where we

have to go and it's very much along what

this place for policy school really

cares about working together having

ideas go first put policy have it

politics and let the chips fall where

they may

don't worry about your next election but

really worked I don't know you name the

issue to get things done was it was a

wonderful piece and if you read his book

and you know he gave me a copy that I

finished a couple weeks ago you know I

I've saved the article that was in the

post and that'll be taped only inside of

the book jacket

but talks about this point yeah I wonder

if you could maybe speak to the

especially the young folks in the room

the students and the people are thinking

about their lives like both in terms of

you know what you would say about the

importance of public service which is

something that's really come through and

both of what you've said but also how

they can how they can be involved in the

political system what are the ways that

you know they can make their voice heard

in Congress like you know about how

members of Congress think about what

their constituents are feeling so you

know what are the best ways for them to

kind of communicate that to be heard in

our democracy

you know I first of all everybody needs

to become involved your voice matters

you know I got public service what the

only decent thing the only good thing

that came out of this most recent

government shutdown is maybe people

thought about public service and thought

about you know we all love to take take

potshots at government officials and

they began to realize the functions they

serve and that they're there for the

common good to make all of our lives

better and to make our community strong

I got involved in politics when I was

your age my roommate got very sick with

a heart condition and she was a woman

and in I found out there was no

information you know the Heart Study and

aspirin a day keeps your keeps the

doctor away it's still the most

significant cardiac heart study that's

been done in the history of this country

Framingham Heart Study is what it is

and there are to this day there are no

women in it think about that so I

started the National Women's Health

Resource Center because the federal

government would not allow women to be

included in any research program because

we had hormones where more than 50% of

the population but we had hormones

whoops so that's what got me involved

and it got me very and I met people and

I started to become

gage and I tell I know you're gonna now

they're gonna hate me when I say this I

tell young people don't get a political

science degree care about something I

know but Kara but the Ford school is not

public but you guys get into she had too

much of this care about is it poverty is

it a housing I was talking to some of

the kids before this kid understand what

your passion is and go learn about that

and then go into the public policy arena

and fight for the change you want to see

I guess the other piece of it I said

this earlier just I think to somebody

social media is a great tool it's one

great thing that's happened it's also

the worst thing that's happened in the


forget the United States of America the

world people are not civil you feel like

you've got a blanket you know to say

whatever you want that's awful and

terrible you take it as a substitute for

involvement I think I would you know and

actually this was another message that

John did go ahead last week which is

just to take a second and try to be a

little gentler to try to think about the

way that you say things and I would also

say that as you look at public service

how do you connect with somebody else

John Diggle would always say this you've

got two ears and one mouth for a reason

use those ears to listen to understand

other people's perspective to grow I

don't believe in the same things today

that I pay I'm a Democrat now not a

Republican I got Merton


but I guess that's one of the things

that I would say I'd say real quick

start it's real easy to be involved I

gotta say that when I graduated from

Michigan with a journalism degree my

goal was to go right for the the Cubs or

somebody else and I met a young guy that

was running for Congress who I had never

met before

and I volunteered to help him I got six

cents a mile and later I and he won and

my dad said I cannot believe I remember

him sitting down as if read

you graduated from such a wonderful

school you had a great start you know

and we had we were challenging an

incumbent incumbents don't lose so

you're working for a loser yeah I don't

know where this is gonna take you

because six months from now you're not

gonna have a job at all and guess what

we want and I had never been to

Washington and I went and you know I was

in charge of special projects and you

know working with local leaders it was a

wonderful job and four years later I was

ready for another challenge and you know

ended up at the White House I did that

for four years and then people called

that would you run for Congress and I

said I'm happily married I got two black

labs I salute the the marine guard in

the West Wing of the White House every

day going in no I'm not interested I

never thought about running for you know

I'm about even a precinct captain let

have run for Congress and so then they

convinced me to change my mind and we

won and it's real easy you know you know

I look you know easy well nobody know

you didn't let me finish

it's real easy to get involved it didn't

let me say finish

I'll cut me off like that but but you

know I look at you know we couldn't do

the job that we did without our staff

without our spouse couldn't ever do it

and I'm just so fortunate to have you

know we have a terrific interns but you

know the the people that work for me

they're just as dedicated they worked

just as hard

they care just about those same issues

so it's easy it's easy get involved

start okay well I'm gonna turn over to

the questions huh

thank you my name's Brett zovsky along

with Kate West uh and SD bar was saying

we're the new co-presidents if we listen

our first question is coming from

Facebook which is in a spirit of

bipartisanship what major bipartisan

legislative milestones or policy areas

can you anticipate progress on this

coming session I'm hoping for a lot of

issues but I think I'll give you one

that I think is very important health

care prescription drugs I don't think

there's a Republican or Democrat that

doesn't have constituents a diabetic

patient whose insulin costs have gone up

monthly by two hundred three hundred

four hundred dollars we all know we've

got to do something to make drugs more

affordable for working men and women I

think that's an area we will reach don't

you I think there's some real

possibility there I will just say I've

driven across the state twice now back

and forth in the last six days

infrastructure five calls and I look at

our roads and you know we've had the

worst winter ever and they're really bad

but you know we were all up together up

at the Soo Locks

two years ago as a delegation with

Governor Snyder that lock hasn't been

was built 60 years ago the Pollock peoe

and if that locks somehow went out you

would double the net and the nation's

unemployment rate almost overnight

none of that iron ore would get down

into the steel plants so whether it's

the autos or you name the industry that

needs steel we're done it's going to

cost a billion dollars to replace that

lock and we're starting now to see that

happen that will be I hope part of that

infrastructure project that will be

bipartisan that we need to get done

you're also seeing on clean water P fast

your I think there's you will see very


hearings and legislation to the health

begin to hold EPA more accountable than

they were under certainly the

administrator as you touched on the

media promotes partisan controversy for

ratings and advertising over the types

of relationships that you guys have what

can we as Americans do to incentivize

bipartisan action well I you know I yeah

you need to look people need to look at

the whole picture they pick out one you

know this year will cast 600 volts some

people will just focus on a handful of

those votes and think you're evil or an

old girl or whatever I think that you

know part of the reason we're here today

is to talk about you know what really is

happening where is some bipartisan

success and for us to get encouragement

for a you from you that we're on the

right track because we're not ideologues

and you know way on one side or the

other and so you know it's it part of it

is an education experience on both sides

I think American people have to start to

hold people accountable they need to say

to their elected representative shutting

down government not okay I think the

American people have to I mean too many

people don't think their vote matters

and they stay home and they don't engage

and I think that people need to start to

really become more engaged in the

electoral process and they need to go to

town hall meetings get your elected

representatives to whole town hall

meetings and to really ultimately you

know if you look at when in the last

year you saw people suddenly when they

realize children were being ripped away

from their parents this country's

conscience thank God woke up and the

president backed off you saw something


we need more of that we need more people

saying this isn't what we are in America

it's not okay our next question is also

from the audience the question is when

you see conflicts in the interests of

your constituencies versus the interests

of your parties in Washington do you

ever see such conflicts first off and

second off if so how do you reconcile

that how do you how does that sort of

manifest itself in the in the day-to-day

well I mean you have to look at the

background that you have the people that

you trust you know I I'm I consider

myself a governing Republican I want to

work you know keep the government open a

whole number of different things and I'm

trying to think of where an issue might

be purely partisan I mean you know you

look at the association of groups that

you're with so you got all these

caucuses they don't need all that often

but you'd get a lot of information

particularly for the staff you look at

the groups that you're involved in you

know problem solvers caucus meets almost

every week there's 30 members that are

there we bring in you know secretary

minuchin from the Treasury Department or

they had a you know the White House

congressional Affairs office she was she

was there the other day I mean they hear

from lawsuits it's got to be a two-way


I started the Tuesday group which is the

moderate Republican group in the house

back in in the 90s we meet every week we

talk about every issue that's there you

find a group of folks no one likes to be

the only person voting yes or no longer

so and and you build relationships

something on the other side I mean you

don't like to see a political position

you know work on the daily functions of

the house of things that we have to do

we have to pass all 12 appropriations

spending bills we have to you know deal

with immigration we have to you know we

have to deal with the defense

authorization bill there's a lot of

things that routinely come we have to

reauthorize the clean water bill we

to reauthorize a highway bill first time

in five years this year we have to do in

an Ag bill which we did last year which

happens five years you get into these

cycles and you got to know the issues

and work with people on both sides to

get them done knowing that we have a now

Republican Senate that doesn't have 60

votes and I don't think Senate ever will

have 60 votes again for one side or the

other in a house that's pretty narrowly

divided not a big margin for for Pelosi

not like what she had 10 years ago when

she was speaker and he got a Republican

White House that's you know sometimes

four bills that they end up being

against so I mean it's you know it's

it's a whole new dynamic that's out

there you know I'll give you an example

and I'll tell you where I probably won't

be with Fred but I'll be with President

Trump trait went out before I ever got

sworn in I was on CNN and they thought

you did a gotcha question about

supporting President Trump on TPP P TPP

and I said let me be clear I will not

support the president I was opposed to

TBD I know well that's not what I'm

talking about I'm talking about the one

we have to do what I called me after 2.0

maybe you'll be with me I don't know but

I said I was elected to represent the

men and women of my district in my state

and I am NOT going to support

legislation that is going to cost people

jobs and I it was never it was I was one

of the leaders of the anti TPP Ford

Motor Company Chrysler of the UAW that

supply there was this state knew that

that bill was bad for him and I'm gonna

do what's right for the people that

elected me now

NAFTA I do not agree with President

Trump on his trade policy in the way

that it's been chaotic not consistent

what he says at 10:00 a.m. may not be

the same thing at 3:00 p.m.

trying to understand the but NAFTA you

see all those shuttered factories in

this state it happened because NAFTA was

a bill that cost us millions of jobs in

this country we no longer had a level

field you cannot compete when you've got

Mexico paying a dollar fifty to three

dollars the most that people are making

in a General Motors plant right now is

three dollars and fifty cents an hour

that's not a living wage you need a

level playing field now Neff does not

and I call it NAFTA 2.0 because I don't

want anyone to forget what laughter 1.0

did to this country but if the talk to

flight Howser regularly I've talked to

it and if we get some of the things

fixed if it trade Rob he's a trade rep

thank you

if we I don't want to see General Motors

put one more you know work just

shuttered for plants here and a plant in

Canada and General Motors announced its

building Blazers in Mexico and by the

way every one of those Blazers is coming

back into this country that to me is not

good policy my job is to protect jobs

for working men and women in this

country so that I'll work with whoever

will do what's right for the people I

was elected to represent I think he does

do it what do you tell the president you

might be the key well I want to see what

he's doing on tariffs what do you see as

the main values of your respective

parties and have the parties moved

farther from the center in recent years

if so why do you think this is how it is

you know these questions are all a

little bit sort of the same to a degree

but it's I just think the American

people want us to deal with the issues

that are before us and their patience

isn't real long these days we got to

look for areas that where we or we can

agree and we knowing that so many of

these different issues have to be

reauthorized and you know a two point

always a good thing and NAFTA needs to

be improved we'll see what the elements

are of it in our bill of 21st century

cures we're working already on another

version that's good

add to what we did over those 10 years

learn looking back and learning from

what's happened the last three and

what's frustrating is that at least on

the big picture so the MSNBC's and the

fox you see you know their guess not

debby are often the folks that are on

the fringes because they're the ones

that are screaming at each other and

they're the ones that maybe get higher

ratings versus someone that may be

trying to put some of the things

together Debbie is actually quite good

on TV and she's not in that that same

group that I would put louis gomer in a

republican friend but I think that's

that's part of the problem that we have

is that the 24/7 news cycle often gets

the the folks on the far end and and the

other side or the middle just turns it

off yeah I think again I keep getting

struck but if it's a hypothetical when

you talk about the two-party system but

nobody's monolithic and either of these

parties so you know we've got a brand

new freshman class in this new Congress

and I bet every one of you could give me

the name of three who who are great and

they're all friends of mine but they

don't represent this isn't a monolithic

class the fact of the matter is is that

there's a group of veterans women

veterans who are really much more and

they all have one in what we call red to

blue districts which are now frontline

that are they're not going to support

the the new Green Deal has very

important principles in it some we're

going to have to really study it and and

look at we all agree that we've got to

do something about global climate change

and we've got about a dozen years left

and you can see what's happening how you

get there and what the goal is you know

where the difference should be so

this class had I mean just look at the

Michigan delegation by the way and they

kind of represent the diversity of this

freshman class you have Rashida who's

I'm sure one of the names that everybody

here does no EMF kind of helped make her

popular but Alyssa slacking is one of

the veterans that get one Mike Bishop


she is a someone who's very dedicated to

bipartisanship working across the aisle

I by the way I'll give you an example of

something that I won't do

I will not campaign against an incumbent

member in Michigan I just I won't give

money and I think our Michigan

delegation needs to be a delegation

that's got to work together and that's

just it's and Alyssa said to me when she

I'm gonna do the same thing when I get

elected in Hass and she's gone in I

don't know if she's she's tried to meet

with that Republican and is trying to I

mean were there the other day for about

an hour and a half yeah you know one of

the things

so our delegation really is pretty close

we have regular meetings sort of know

well they're regularly there are

lobbyists for a for regular meetings

Fred you know but the delegation is we

look at issues where we can you walked

into that yeah I know I did it on

purpose but I'm always making friends

but you know whether it's Great Lakes

whether it's autos you know you know the

auto rescue plan saved Michigan what was

that it was our delegation working

together and we work together and that

was the time of the election with McCain

running against Obama and we got both of

the candidates on board and President

Bush to finish up the job as it as it

wasn't getting started but it was almost

off the tracks and Speaker Boehner was

the speaker and Dave camp and I was from

Midland we went in to see him and said

you can't let this get off the tracks we

have to have this vote to get it done

and we passed it with an overwhelming

margin which helped carry it through the

Senate without that bill Michigan would

be dead as for the country yeah it would

have been so again it was our deli

working together shoulders shoulder that

that really got it done this next

question from the audience is on more of

a policy note the question is how does

Congress plan to address the opioid

country or do excuse me there would a

crisis it is sweeping our country in a

bipartisan manner and maybe if you could

outline the progress that is made so far

couple things this this hits everybody

every community every family we all know

somebody last year probably don't know

this but we passed about sixty bills you

know in the Congress and the President

signed every one of them there might

have been altogether in those sixty

bills maybe twelve people that voted

against him and we moved them all

individually Debbie had a good number of

bills I was co-sponsor her she was

co-sponsor of mine more education more

funding one of the things I'm going back

to 21st century cures so Obama signed

that in December of 16 we put two

billion dollars into that for opioids I

bet a lot of people back then couldn't

even spell it but we knew it was a real

problem we're now seeing that money come

down to the locals to try and help when

we one of the things that we did over in

my district just the last two months

there I'll tell you the story we had a

young man that I knew that played

basketball for Lake Shore High School

and he got into heroin and he didn't

make it I think he might even go into

jail a little bit but he tried treatment

and it was my boss's nephew Dave

stopping was my first boss he died Sammy

so we have now started a Center in st.

Joe that's been funded tens of thousands

of dollars to help families deal with

this crisis don't know what to wear

where to turn to try to get the Surgeon


come and do a form there this fall

before school starts we've done those we

all know people families what can we do

to help you know thank God so and so

they didn't go to jail or what ever see

the movie Ben is back you know there's

no answers this stuff is so addictive

this fentanyl is so bad I mean we found

that there was one postal inspector for

all of West Michigan I can't use dogs at

the State of the Union address there was

an officer and he policemen from Ohio

and pulled somebody over I don't know

the whole story but just the loose

fentanyl he he was overdosed almost died

he talked to your law enforcement folks

and they're using not calm you know what

sometimes multiple times

no individual officers and sometimes the

same people over three or four days

stretch so we need to do a lot more

money is part of this and we're just

starting now to scratch the surface but

it's just it's so scary to see the stuff

that's so addictive and it comes in and

it's so cheap you know there was a raid

last week and they figured that there

was enough fentanyl to to impact every

American in the United States okay

that's all it takes the President on his

interview on Meet the Press or whatever

was two Sundays ago said that he raised

it with the Chinese about trying to get

it stopped but at the same time I mean

one of the bills that I got done that

the President signed into law was more

research to try and find out if we can

find some non addictive painkillers no

pain is an awful thing I mean people are

willing to do anything that they have a

you know that whatever that medical

issue might be

you need the painkillers for it but

maybe we can develop some that are non

addictive that are not gonna be like

some of the others that are out there

and we're just starting and again it was

hugely bipartisan and something that we

move through our committee and Debbie

was a big part of that

in terms of getting it done it's a very

personal issue to me

and I can't talk about today because I'm

I get near tears several times today so

we'll talk about it another day but I

will say this that we're not doing

enough we made we did a beginning we

started we've only said that we needed

mental health we need to remove the

stigma from mental health many of you

will remember about a year ago a Central

Michigan University student ended up

killing his parents this was a very

educational experience for me because he

knew he had a drug problem he went to

the emergency room seeking health

there was no provider and no bed

available to him I met around the same

time the grandparents of that we're now

taking care of their two grandchildren

because their daughter was an opiate

addict their grandson was already

drawing pictures that showed her and he

could not get an appointment with a

mental health provider for they could

not 8 months and I said well what is it

you know I was trying to understand was

there a money problem it wasn't a money


it was simply and it's true here at the

University of Michigan I've got since

then I've gone I've met with the doctors

at U of M I've been to the emergency

room and they know they've got a problem

that night of that horrible incident at

Central I was with many of the hospital

administrators and they told me that not

one person had gone into inpatient

psychiatry residency that year we kind

of think we've got to incentivize more

people going into there are many things

every time FDA or NIH comes up it

appears before the committee I asked the

same question which friend was just

talking about when are we gonna get a

non-addictive pain treatment drug I mean

that's an Frances or says it's coming

it's coming

well it's got to do more than it's

coming it's got to get here so we got to

work together and do a lot of things

this is going to be the last question do

you think Veterans Affairs is headed in

the right direction and does Congress

have any plans to address veterans

issues well Congress will continue need

to the men and women who served this

country and defend us need to be taken

care of period it is one of my

number-one priorities but I do believe

that the easiest vote that we cast is to

take care of them there are issues there

have been management issues well I mean

even there been issues here at the Ann

Arbor VA hospital Tim Walberg has gone

with Tim and Ike I don't think we should

ever politicize taking care of a veteran

ever and when there been issues I always

make sure that Fred or Tim are with me

it both the John Dingell VA hospital in

the in our or birth and we just have a

moral responsibility to take care of

those so it's not where it needs to be

but all of us I've got it are terrific

students for organizing questions just a

a great event please join me outside

along with our guests and our moderator

for a reception in the Great Hall and

thanks very much for being here at the

Ford school