Dan Benishek

Dan Benishek


Dr. Benishek Fights for Iron Mountain Processing Facility


WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) urged the Postmaster General to reconsider closing the Iron Mountain Processing and Distribution located in nearby Kingsford, Michigan.  In addition, Dr. Benishek urged the USPS to address the concerns previously raised by the Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance and Operation Action UP regarding the economic impact of the closure.

"Receiving timely mail delivery is something that individuals and businesses across the country expect from our postal service, especially in rural Northern Michigan. I am deeply disappointed by the Postal Service's determination to close the processing facility in Iron Mountain; a closure that will have devastating effects on the local economy. While I realize the Post Office is facing significant fiscal challenges, our local rural communities should not have to pay the price.  It isn't just those that work at the processing facility in that will be impacted, but the entire community.  Many small business, seniors, and families depend on this processing facility to provide overnight delivery to the U.P., and I want to make sure that this service remains available for this area.  This is about jobs and continuing services in our region. I hope the Postmaster General will consider the concerns raised by local entities in the U.P. and allow for this facility to remain open," said Dr. Benishek, a lifelong native of Northern Michigan.

In the letter to Postmaster General Donahue, Dr. Benishek stated, "I request that you provide a direct response to the questions raised in the attached correspondence brought forward by the Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance and Operation Action UP, including alternatives to closures that were explored by the USPS."


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Dr. Benishek's Statement on Upper Peninsula Federal Disaster Aid Request


WASHINGTON, DC:  Today, Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) issued the following statement in response to Upper Peninsula of Michigan's ongoing request for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for damages that occurred during the winter months:

"Although the temperatures have risen, the impact of this winter's historic freezes and snowfalls are still being felt in Northern Michigan.  I am continuing to work with Marquette County and other communities in the U.P. to ensure their needs and the unique issues that were the result of abnormally long freezes are understood by FEMA officials.  Working with local, county and state officials, I am encouraged that we will obtain the federal emergency aid our communities need to recover."

Governor Snyder declared a "state of emergency" for Marquette County in April and it is estimated that the Upper Peninsula has experienced nearly $20 million in damages.


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Dr. Benishek's Statement on Passage of Highway Funding


WASHINGTON, DC: Dr. Dan Benishek, M.D. (MI-01) issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014:

"All families and business owners know how important maintaining our roads and highways is to our economy here in Northern Michigan.  If we can maintain our roads and keep them safe, then more jobs and opportunities will come to our communities. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on long term reforms that will give states more flexibility on determining the transportation needs here in Northern Michigan and around the U.S."

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Dr. Benishek's Statement on Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Funding


WASHINGTON, DC: Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) released the following statement in response to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) making up to $27.5 million available for the 2014 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI):

"The Great Lakes are vital to Northern Michigan's economy and are directly and indirectly responsible for thousands of jobs.  The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has focused on some valuable projects here in Northern Michigan, from combating invasive species to cleaning up local beaches.  Many of our communities up here depend on the harbors and ports for shipping and recreational boating and properly maintaining these waterways through projects funded by the GLRI is critical for our economy. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to ensure that these important projects-from Traverse City to the Western UP-remain in place-so we can keep our Great Lakes clean and healthy."

Dr. Benishek serves a co-chair and founder of the House Invasive Species Caucus, and is a Member of the Great Lakes Task Force.  Since being elected to Congress in 2010, Dr. Benishek has made the health and infrastructure of the Great Lakes a top priority.

Applications are due by August 25, 2014 for competitive grants for projects in the Great Lakes basin. For more information about applying for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants is available at http://www.epa.gov/greatlakes/fund/2014rfa02/.


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Dr. Benishek Passes Legislation to Honor Local Gold Star Mother


WASHINGTON, DC:  Legislation (H.R. 2223) authored by Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) to name the post office building in Munising, Michigan after Mrs. Elizabeth L. Kinnunen was recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

"Mrs. Kinnunen's family should be deservedly proud of her life and accomplishments.  Like so many people in Northern Michigan, her life's story was one based on commitment to her family and country.  After working with Munising officials and community leaders to develop this bill, it is wonderful to see it passed by the House and I hope to see it reach the president's desk as soon as possible," stated Dr. Benishek, a lifelong resident of the Upper Peninsula. 

Ms. Kinnunen, born Elizabeth L. Paasto, emigrated from Finland in 1903 and married Oscar Kinnunen in 1909.  Mr. and Mrs. Kinnunen operated a boarding house in Marquette, Michigan. There they provided warm beds to countless timber and mining workers in Marquette County.  Oscar and Elizabeth had eleven children.   Eventually, they moved to Munising, Michigan.  Oscar worked for Munising Paper Company and Elizabeth worked as a local cook. Mrs. Kinnunen was a faithful member of the Messiah Lutheran Church in Munising.  

Two of Kinnunen's sons, Eiso Kinnunen and Raymond Kinnunen, were both killed defending America's freedom.  Eiso was killed in action during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945, one of the most critical and decisive campaigns of World War II, while Raymond was killed during the Korean War in 1952.  These two tragic deaths led to Kinnunen earning the unfortunate distinction as a two-gold star mother.  In addition, Kinnunen had another son, Reino Kinnunen, who served this country in West Germany.  Elizabeth died on April 5, 1974, at the age of 81. 

"As an upstanding citizen and devoted two gold-star mother, Mrs. Kinnunen undoubtedly earned this designation.  Naming this post office will be a great way for the community of Munising to celebrate her life and accomplishments," added Dr. Benishek.

H.R. 2223 is supported by American Legion Post 131, City of Munising, and the Alger County Board of Commissioners and passed the U.S. House of Representatives by voice vote on July 14, 2014.


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Dr. Benishek Celebrates Cherries in Northern Michigan


WASHINGTON, DC: Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) recognizes the significance of the National Cherry Festival and the agricultural importance of cherries in the Michigan economy. The National Cherry Festival has been taking place in Traverse City past week.

“The National Cherry Festival is a great week that highlights the best that Northern Michigan has to offer, with people coming from across the country to Grand Traverse to explore and enjoy the ‘Pure Michigan’ experience. With Michigan growing about 75% of the tart cherry crops in the United States, we are a leader in this growing industry.  Over half a million people will visit the Grand Traverse area for the, making it great for tourism and the economy in the area,” said Dr. Benishek, the only member of the Michigan delegation serving on the House Agriculture Committee.

The first Cherry Festival was held in 1926 and in 1931 the Michigan state legislature passed a resolution making it a national celebration. The Michigan tart cherry farm gate value for the 2013 crop was 74.2 million dollars, with the U. S. cherry industry producing more than 650 million pounds of tart and sweet cherries each year.  The Sweet Cherry Industry in Michigan has a Farm Gate value of 19 million dollars.

“Northern Michigan’s specialty crops, such as cherries, play a critical role in our economy up here. These farms support a lot of jobs in our region, and my goal is to continue supporting and representing our farmers while in Washington on the Agriculture Committee and in Congress,” added Dr. Benishek. ”

According to the Michigan Farm Bureau, the agriculture sector contributes over $71 billion to the state's economy and is the state's second largest industry.  Michigan is home to over 56,000 farms covering over 10 million acres. Dr. Benishek recently accepted an award from the Michigan Agri-Business Association for his work on the enactment of the Farm Bill and his support of the Michigan agriculture economy in Congress.

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Dr. Benishek Promotes Streamlined Job Training Programs


WASHINGTON, DC: Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) supported H.R. 803, the "Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act," which represents a bipartisan effort between the House and Senate to reauthorize workforce training and development activities. The bill passed the house last night.

"Proper job training is incredibly important in Northern Michigan. There are jobs out there for the people with the right skills. Just last week I heard from business owners in the district who need employees with trade specific work skills. This is a great bill that will allow states to have more flexibility in implementing and changing job training programs that can cater specifically to what is needed in that area. The training needed in Florida is not the same type of job training needed in Northern Michigan and this bill will allow for these decisions to be made on the local level," said Dr. Benishek, a lifelong native of Northern Michigan.

The "Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act" will create more accountability and transparency through performance standards for job training programs, allow for greater flexibility on the local level to develop programs that are focused on jobs in that area, as well as eliminate duplicate and ineffective programs.

H.R. 803 has been publicly supported by the State of Michigan as well as numerous companies across the country. Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM) President and CEO, Doug Rothwell, expressed support for the bill in a recent letter stating, "we believe the legislation reflects a bi-partisan effort to improve the performance of our nation's job training programs by providing greater flexibility to states and emphasizing real world job training opportunities."

Dr. Benishek has been a vocal supporter of increased job training in Northern Michigan, especially through his vocational education initiative. Dr. Benishek has hosted educational round table meetings in Northern Michigan with educators and job providers, and continues to explore proposals to promote vocational education in the First District so that individuals have the proper training to secure the jobs available.

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Dr. Benishek Works to Improve Environment and Create Jobs


WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) introduced the "Data Preservation Act of 2014," which will reauthorize the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program Act of 2005.

As a lifelong resident of Northern Michigan, Dr. Benishek has a unique perspective on the region's geography-from the shores of Lake Michigan to the Ottawa Forest-these vast tracts of land are treasured by all citizens in the region.  They also play a large role in the regional economy. 

"From hunting and fishing to timber and mining, so many jobs here in Northern Michigan are tied to the land that surrounds us. That is why maintaining accurate date about the land is so important.  This legislation will encourage states and universities to collaborate with local companies to preserve their mapping data for the future.  We've already seen instances where new companies have been able to use this data to go back and find new information, like the recent potash discovery in Western Michigan, which media reports have estimated as being worth as much as $65 billion.  The ability to access this type of data is important for jobs and our economy," said Dr. Benishek, a surgeon from Iron River.

The Data Preservation Partnerships are administered by the United States Geological Society (USGS), and work with state geological surveys and agencies within the Department of Interior that maintain geological and geophysical data and samples.  The partnerships are tasked with working to build an inventory of collections of existing data and materials, as well as developing guidelines for the distribution of funds. USGS works with partners to archive and preserve items like geological, geophysical, and engineering data, as well as mine maps, well logs, and samples.

"Not only is the legislation important for jobs, it is also good for the environment.  Preserving historical data allows researchers to learn from the past.  In addition, companies looking to build or utilize resources in the future can be more accurate, as they will be able to utilize samples and other types of data that has already been collected," added Dr. Benishek

Dr. Benishek is currently the only member of the Michigan delegation serving on the House Committee on Natural Resources.

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Dr. Benishek Fights for Great Lakes Jobs


Washington, DC:  Today, Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) expressed his support for funding for projects that allow for harbor maintenance and dredging in the Great Lakes. 

"The harbors and waterways play a vital role in our region's economy.  All said, the ports and channels in the Great Lakes Navigation System support over 128,000 jobs across the United States and bring in over $18.1 billion in revenue to our economy.  Northern Michiganders know how important these waterways our to our way of life, and, as a member of the Great Lakes Task Force, I will continue to fight to ensure that they remain protected," said Dr. Benishek, the only member of the Michigan delegation serving on the House Natural Resources Committee.  

The House of Representatives is currently considering the Fiscal Year 2015 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.  The legislation includes funding for the United States Army Corps to dredge and maintain ports in Northern Michigan and throughout the entire country.  Today Dr. Benishek worked with his colleagues, including Rep. Huizenga of Holland, MI, to increase funding for these important assets in a bipartisan manner.

"The backlog of maintenance projects that the Corps is having difficulty getting to directly impacts the economy and jobs in Northern Michigan.  The worst part is that the money is already there to pay for these projects.  Shippers already pay a tax to use these ports and harbors, but the money is being diverted.  I will continue to fight to ensure that these funds are being spent properly, so we can keep ships moving on the Great Lakes," added Dr. Benishek. 

Since coming to Congress in 2011, Dr. Benishek has been one of the leading voices in Congress fighting for proper funding of harbors in ports in Northern Michigan and throughout the country.  Additionally, Dr. Benishek has been a strong supporter of legislation that will ensure that funds collected for harbor maintenance are used properly.  

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Dr. Benishek Supports American Energy Independence


WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) voiced his support for H.R. 4899, the "Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act." The bill was passed in the House today by a margin of 229 to 185.

"There's no question that gas prices have risen exponentially over the past decade.  Families in Michigan and across the United States are paying more today at the pump. I know that Moms and Dads in Northern Michigan are working hard day in and day out to provide for their families, yet they are being hit when they go to fill up their cars with gas. This legislation is a first step in easing the pain at the pump and lessening the burden on the middle class," said Dr. Benishek, a lifelong resident of Northern Michigan.

The "Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act" will work to increase both on and offshore energy production as well as increase production of energy in Alaska. Energy independence is increasingly important with the current static economy in the United States. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this legislation could create up to 1.2 million jobs long-term as well as generate over $1 billion in new revenue over ten years.

"It's time for us to embrace energy production at home. Northern Michigan is home to many great examples of domestic production of energy and we need to follow suit nationally in increasing this vital commodity. We have the resources to harness oil and natural gas in the United States, which would mean more jobs and a stronger economy and this common sense legislation will do just that," added Dr. Benishek.

Dr. Benishek has been a vocal supporter of energy independence and is currently the only member of the Michigan delegation serving on the House Committee on Natural Resources.

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Contact Information

514 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-4735
Fax 202-225-4744

Dan Benishek’s story is like that of many people from Northern Michigan.  Dan was born in Iron River, Michigan.  His family didn’t have much when he was growing up, and his father was killed in a mining accident when he was only 5 years old.  After his father’s death, Dan’s mother, with the help of family, raised Dan and his brother, Tim.

As a boy, Dan worked in his grandmother’s business—the Iron River Hotel.  Dan made beds, hauled beer, and cleaned the spittoons.  His grandmother paid him $10 a week for his efforts, but he had to save it for the future.

After Dan graduated from West Iron High School in 1970, he went on to earn a B.S. in biology from the University of Michigan in 1974.  Dan graduated from Wayne State Medical School in 1978 and completed a Family Practice internship in Flint at St Joseph’s Hospital.  He has served as a general surgeon in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in a private practice since 1983. He has worked part-time at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain for the past twenty years.

Dan worked as a general surgeon in Iron Mountain for nearly 30 years and raised his family in Iron Mountain.  Along the way, it never occurred to him to get into politics, let alone run for Congress.  But, like many people in Northern Michigan, Dan just got tired of seeing career politicians in Washington waste taxpayer dollars our nation doesn’t have on bills they didn’t even read.

Since coming to Congress, Dan has been fighting every day to create jobs in Northern Michigan, improve services to our veterans, and renew the promise of the American Dream for our children, grandchildren and future generations.

Dan is an avid hunter and fisherman and a proud member of the NRA and the GOA.

Dan and his wife Judy live near Crystal Falls, Michigan.  They have five children and four grandchildren.  Prior to being sworn into Congress on January 5, 2011, Dr. Benishek had never sought nor held any previous public office.

Serving With

Bill Huizenga


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Fred Upton


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