Dan Benishek

Dan Benishek


Dr. Benishek Works to Protect Victims of Human Trafficking


WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) voiced his support of strengthening the response to and prevention of child trafficking. Several bills passed on the House floor this week that will increase prevention efforts and strengthen responses to trafficking, as well as provide care for victims of these horrible acts.


"Child trafficking has become a real problem in the United States, we need to stand up and acknowledge that victims of these despicable acts can be found in even the smallest communities. As a doctor, I've seen firsthand how much care, compassion and support victims of these horrible acts need. We must work as a country to end sex trafficking and protect our children and grandchildren," said Dr. Benishek, who represents the First District of Michigan.


According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), sex trafficking is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world.  Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security estimates that human trafficking has grown to a $32 billion a year industry.  According to the Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking, children, women, and men are compelled into prostitution, domestic servitude, and other labor for little or no pay in Michigan.


"This legislation will work towards identifying and protecting those who are at risk of becoming victims of trafficking.  Coordinating efforts at all levels will give our youth the best shot at succeeding in safe and health environments. It's time to take a stand; our children aren't for sale," added Dr. Benishek.


Every year an estimated 300,000 children become victims of sex trafficking, with many of them being runaways or in the child welfare system. Legislation passed today will work towards identifying and protecting at risk youth, coordinate prevention efforts at the federal, state and local levels, as well as increase training to relevant staff so they are able to better support victims of trafficking.

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Dr. Benishek Questions Acting VA Secretary Gibson


WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) questioned Sloan Gibson, the Acting Secretary of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs during a heated House Veterans' Affairs hearing.


"As a former VA doctor, I can tell you that the problems lie with the bureaucrats in Washington, not the nurses and doctors who are actually providing care for our veterans. It's clear that the only real change that the VA has made recently is removing a few top officials. It's time to reform the VA and that starts with hearing from the care providers as to what they need to do their jobs. After questioning Acting Secretary Gibson today, I've learned that the VA still hasn't made the simplest of changes to better veterans' experiences," said Dr. Benishek, Michigan's only member serving on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee.


Dr. Benishek questioned Acting Secretary Gibson about proactive steps the VA has taken to get veterans off of waiting lists and in to see doctors. Last week, the VA asked Congress for an additional $17.6 billion over the next three years to provide immediate care to veterans across the country.


"I don't think we should be blindly giving the VA more money, when it is obvious they mismanage the funds they already have. A clear plan needs to be laid out to ensure our veterans will get the timely care they deserve," added Dr. Benishek.


Since coming to Washington, Dr. Benishek has worked tirelessly to improve the VA to ensure veterans receive timely access to the care they need and deserve. Dr. Benishek is the only member of the Michigan delegation currently serving on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health. His "Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act" (H.R. 2072) was passed unanimously by the House on June 9. The bill will require the VA Secretary to figure out who within the VA is responsible for fixing a problem identified by the Inspector General, reduce the burden on a supervisor when it is necessary to fire a bad employee, and target bonuses of employees that fail to fix problems.






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Dr. Benishek Supports Choice in Higher Education


WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) voiced his support for H.R. 3136, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act, which will be voted on in the House tonight. The Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act will promote innovation in higher education, provide for accountability and give programs more flexibility in specified areas.


"The cost of higher education has risen exponentially over the past decade, making it harder for our young people to achieve success and obtain degrees. This legislation will make it easier for institutions to work with students to provide a more cost-effective and specialized educational experience. In Northern Michigan we have some great technical education programs where students get hands on experience in learning specified trade skills and we need to help make it easier for students to achieve their goals in these programs," said Dr. Benishek, a general surgeon from Iron Mountain.


Competency-based education is becoming more popular across the country, where programs are foregoing the measure of "credit hours" and allowing students to advance based on demonstration of knowledge in a specified area. The Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act will encourage the creation of these types of programs as well as evaluate demonstration projects in order to promote accountability and success.


"There are jobs out there for the people with the right skills.  I want our kids to be able to have access to affordable, personalized education so they can get some of the good paying jobs out there and thrive right here in Northern Michigan," added Dr. Benishek.


Vocational education and proper job training has been a top priority for Dr. Benishek during his time in Congress. 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: Court Rulings Affirm Obamacare is Fundamentally Flawed


WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Dr. Dan Benishek released the following statement on the two U.S. Court of Appeals rulings in Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia on Obamacare. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled that Obamacare subsidies are to be provided across all exchanges, while the D.C. Circuit ruled subsidies are only to be provided for the purchase of health care from state exchanges.

"Once again the President's health care law has failed to deliver on the promises made to Northern Michigan families.  Today's rulings by separate federal appeals courts demonstrate how fundamentally flawed Obamacare really is and the further problems that are caused by the President trying to make those flaws go away by unilaterally changing how the law is enforced.

"As a doctor, I know that the last thing families want to be dealing with when it comes to their health care is uncertainty and that is all Obamacare seems to be delivering.  This broken law is having detrimental effects on moms, dads, seniors and veterans in Northern Michigan by raising premiums, reducing health care choices and hurting our economy.  We need to fix our health care system by implementing solutions that are patient focused and allow important health care decisions to be made by the patient, families and their doctor - not the federal government."  

Dr. Benishek was born in Iron River and graduated from Wayne State Medical School in 1978. He served as a general surgeon in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in a private practice since 1983, while also working part-time for 20 years at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain.


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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 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'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 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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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.

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