Dan Benishek

Dan Benishek

MICHIGAN's 1st DISTRICT

Benishek Works to Provide Access to Federal Forest Roads

2015/06/26

Washington, D.C.- During the consideration of H.R. 2822 - FY16 Interior & Environment Appropriations yesterday evening, Dr. Dan Benishek submitted an amendment to encourage the US Forest Service to shift their focus to opening forest roads for public use.  In practice, the amendment would reduce spending from the National Forest Systems Vegetation and Watershed Program by $2 million, and transfer those funds into Capitol Improvement and Maintenance Fund.  The prior program is used when a road is considered for closure by the Forest Service, and the latter program is utilized when the Forest Service is looking to open and maintain roads for the public.  In addition, this amendment was estimated to save the taxpayers $1,000,000 in the coming year by the Congressional Budget Office.

"Many Northern Michigan residents and visitors to the area arrive to our local federal forests to find that the road to their favorite fishing spot or hiking trail or ORV path has been closed by the Forest Service with no warning and no input from the local community.  My amendment is an opportunity to demonstrate to the Forest Service that their focus should be on making our forests more open and accessible to the American people," noted Dr. Benishek.  "These forests are important to our economy and way of life in Northern Michigan, and I am committed to ensuring that they stay open and accessible to all citizens."

Dr. Benishek's amendment was accepted without opposition on the House floor, and was included in the final version of the Interior Appropriations bill that will come for a vote in the coming weeks.  Michigan's First District is home to three Federal Forests, the Ottawa, the Hiawatha, and the Huron.  The outdoor economy contributes over 5.5 billion in wages and 194,000 jobs to Michigan, most of which are in the First District.  

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Benishek Reacts to VA Hearing on Major Cost Overrun

2015/06/26

Washignton, D.C. - The Committee on Veterans Affairs  held an oversight hearing today on the implementation of the VA's FY2015 Budget.  The Veterans Health Administration (VHA), which oversees the VA health care system, currently estimates a budget shortfall of $2.6 billion in the Medical Services and Medical Support and Compliance accounts. The shortfall is driven by increased demand for non-VA care and rising costs of Hepatitis C treatments, which were both discussed at the hearing. VHA currently expects that these factors will also result in a shortfall in the fiscal year FY 2016 budget as well.

"Despite consistently increasing the budget for veterans care every year for nearly a decade, we continue to hear excuses from the VA about their inability to efficiently and effectively provide services.  It is clear that no one is being held accountable for their actions at this Department.  Though we have given the Secretary the power to remove problem employees, he has thus far yet to do so.  Now, the Congress must act to once again clean up a mess caused by poor management at the VA," said Dr. Benishek, who served at the VA as a surgeon for two decades.

The VA's cost overrun follows reports that the Department experienced a billion dollar over-budget construction project at a facility in Denver, CO and other reports that the VA has only spent $500 million of the $10 billion allocated for the Veterans Choice Program that was signed into law last year.

Dr. Benishek spent 20 years as a VA doctor treating patients at the Iron Mountain VA facility.  As Chairman of the Veterans Health Subcommittee, he played an integral role in creating and helping to pass the landmark reform legislation, leading many of the hearings that uncovered the VA's incompetency.  Dr. Benishek was also successful in getting a new law enacted based on an idea from a local veterans that provides Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) greater access to federal surplus property, such as spare vehicles and equipment, for use at their facilities.    

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Dr. Benishek Reacts to Passage of COOL Repeal Bill

2015/06/11

Washington, D.C- Following the World Trade Organization's (WTO) fourth ruling against the United States with regard to Country of Origin Labeling requirements, the U.S. House of Representatives passed today a bill to repeal the labels.  Canada and Mexico, America's two leading trade partners, have repeatedly charged that the requirements violate longstanding trade agreements.  Repeal of these labels would prevent costly, retaliatory tariffs from taking affect.  In a recent op-ed at the Detroit News, Dr. Benishek explained how these tariffs will hurt jobs and businesses in Michigan.  Michigan exports over $3.2 billion worth of agricultural products alone that would be subject to punishing tariffs if changes are not made. 

"Cherry farmers, miners, autoworkers, and consumers all stand to lose if we do not act on this issue soon.  I am pleased that the House worked diligently to pass this fix, and I am hopeful that the Senate and the President will do the same.  Having a safe and traceable food supply is non-negotiable, but these labels further neither of those goals. The last thing Northern Michigan can afford right now is a loss of jobs and an increase of prices," said Dr. Benishek, a member of the Committee on Agriculture.

H.R. 2393, the "Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act," passed the House yesterday with a widely bipartisan vote of 300 to 131.  

Congressman Dan Benishek is a native of Iron Mountain, MI where he served as a doctor for over thirty years, both in the private sector and at the VA.  In Congress, he serves on the House Committee on Agriculture, where he worked to craft the 2014 Farm Bill in the 113th Congress.

  

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Benishek Questions VA on Pain Management at Hearing

2015/06/11

Washington, D.C. - Following reports of VA doctors over-prescribing opiates to veterans with chronic pain, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs held a hearing today on Pain Management at the Department.  An addiction to pain drugs has been repeatedly cited as a cause for suicide among veterans.

"With a veteran taking their own life every hour, it is clear that this is an issue we must deal with now.  Every veteran with chronic pain deserves access to a pain management specialist who can serve their individual needs.  We must hold the VA accountable to this standard," said Dr. Benishek, who worked at the VA in Iron Mountain, MI for over 20 years. 

Congressman Benishek recently introduced the Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act, a bill that would require the VA Inspector General to indicate the names of individuals responsible solving for issues like these and to implement steps to ensure that the problems are addressed. 

Dr. Benishek spent 20 years as a VA doctor treating patients at the Iron Mountain VA facility.  As Chairman of the Veterans Health Subcommittee, he played an integral role in creating and helping to pass the landmark reform legislation, leading many of the hearings that uncovered the VA's incompetency.  Dr. Benishek was also successful in getting a new law enacted based on an idea from a local veterans that provides Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) greater access to federal surplus property, such as spare vehicles and equipment, for use at their facilities.    

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Benishek Backs Bill to Better Manage Forests

2015/06/09

Washington, D.C.-Today, Rep. Dan Benishek (MI-01) supported H.R. 2394, the "National Forest Foundation Reauthorization Act of 2015," which passed the House by voice vote.  The National Forest Foundation uses federal dollars as a match for private donations from individuals and companies to restore and enhance national forests and grasslands.  Since 2001, the National Forest Foundation, with its private partners, has restored and maintained over 14,000 miles of trails and treated over 80,000 acres for invasive plant species, in addition to restoring over 115,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

"This bill reauthorizes a critical program for our national forests that will allow a public-private partnership to open these forests to economic opportunity while still preserving their environmental integrity," said Dr. Benishek, a member of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees. 

Michigan's First District is home to three national forests.  Each year, the Michigan forest products industry generates about $1.3 billion in economic activity.  From biomass facilities to pulp and paper mills, this industry creates numerous jobs throughout Northern Michigan.

 

Congressman Benishek is a native of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Michigan's only member of the Natural Resources Committee.  Prior to joining Congress, he served as a doctor in both private practice and the VA.  

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Benishek Leads Bipartisan Forestry Initiative

2015/06/03

Washington, D.C.- As Congress begins to look at ways to reform the tax code, Dr. Benishek (MI-01), led a bipartisan effort to encourage his colleagues to consider the unique needs of the forestry industry.  Given the long-term planning required for sustainable management and healthy forests, any changes to the tax code could cause disruptions to the industry, jobs, and the health of the forests, and must be carefully considered.

"Forests are a major source of jobs in Northern Michigan and across the country.  While tax reform is important, the nature of this industry requires special care when adjusting tax structures," said Dr. Benishek.  "The purpose of this letter is to help the Ways and Means Committee better understand the needs of the industry as they consider changes to the timber tax."

There are over 7 million acres of private forests in the State of Michigan, and these forests contribute approximately $7.5 billion per year to the state's economy, supporting approximately 63,000 jobs.  As healthy forests often require a 20-80 year management cycle to mature, significant investment is required prior to seeing a financial return.  This effort was also supported by the National Alliance of Forest Owners who released the statement below.

"We appreciate Dr. Benishek's commitment to helping preserve the timberland tax provisions that help Michigan keep its forests forested and provide jobs and social and environmental benefits to our state," said Steve Hicks, President and CEO, JM Longyear. "Those provisions help our company stay invested in our lands and active in the communities that rely on us as an important part of the economy."

To view a copy of the letter signed by the 80 Representatives in support, click here.

Congressman Dan Benishek is a strong supporter of foresters and a member of the Paper Caucus.  A native of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, he is Michigan's only member of the Natural Resources Committee.

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Benishek Chairs Hearing on Delayed VA Provider Payments

2015/06/03

Washington, D.C-  Dr. Dan Benishek, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Veterans Health, held a hearing today on delayed payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs to private providers serving veterans across the country.  These delayed payments have caused providers to be wary of accepting veterans as patients, thereby limiting the number of options available to veterans in need of private care.

"The VA has a responsibility to promptly pay the healthcare providers serving veterans on their behalf.  In fact - it's the law," said Dr. Benishek, who worked as a surgeon at the VA for over twenty years.  "This hearing is an important step towards identifying how this problem can be resolved, and I intend to pursue every avenue, including legislation, to ensure that all veterans have access to an array of options for reliable care.

At the hearing, testimony was given by reimbursement experts in the medical field as well as officials at the VA responsible for overseeing provider payments.  Testimony revealed that providers often experience "lengthy delays" in reimbursements, and often claims are lost or misplaced at the VA altogether.    

Dr. Benishek spent 20 years as a VA doctor treating patients at the Iron Mountain VA facility.  As Chairman of the Veterans Health Subcommittee, he played an integral role in creating and helping to pass the landmark reform legislation, leading many of the hearings that uncovered the VA's incompetency.  Dr. Benishek was also successful in getting a new law enacted based on an idea from a local veterans that provides Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) greater access to federal surplus property, such as spare vehicles and equipment, for use at their facilities.  You can learn more about Dr. Benishek's Veterans Action Initiative here.    

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Benishek Awards Veteran's Family With Service Medals

2015/05/29

WASHINGTON, D.C.-  Today Dr. Dan Benishek awarded a family in Wilson, MI three medals earned during World War II by their relative, Frank Janofski.  Mr. Janofski enlisted in the United States Army in July of 1942 at Traverse City.  After two days in combat at the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia, he experienced an incapacitating medical event leading to a respiratory infection that ultimately took his life.  For years, his family has tried without success to obtain medals in recognition of his service.  

"It was very moving to help this family's loved one receive the recognition he has earned.  Moments such as these are among the most rewarding parts of serving Northern Michigan," said Dr. Benishek, who serves on the Veterans Affairs Committee in Congress.

The Janofski's contacted Dr. Benishek for assistance last year.  Upon obtaining all documents relevant to Mr. Janofski's service from National Archives, it was discovered that he was entitled to three medals, including the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one Bronze Service Star, WWII Victory Medal, and the Honorable Service Lapel Button - WWII.  These medals have now been delivered to the family and placed next to a picture of Mr. Janofski in his brother Fred's living room.

"We were sitting in the living room last night and the picture of his brother with the medals still propped up on it was resting on the love seat where my dad could see it from his chair.  He said to me, 'Frankie finally got his medals,' said Roger Janofski, Fred's son.

To view a picture of the Janofski's with Dr. Benishek and the medals, click here.  

(From left to right. Eric Janofski, Dr. Dan Benishek, Fred Janofski, Roger Janofski, Donald Walechka).  

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Dr. Benishek Reacts to Federal Power Grab

2015/05/27

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Following the announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency to  broadly expand their regulatory authority through the controversial Waters of the United States Rule, Dr. Dan Benishek has released the following statement:

"Under the guise of protecting our waterways, today's announcement by the EPA is nothing more than a power grab that will add more bureaucracy without any real benefit.   Among the most impacted will be farmers, and agriculture is a major part of our economy in Northern Michigan.  From talking to farmers  around our district, they feel like the EPA has railroaded them with this new rule without justification and without understanding the impact it will have on jobs.  This is exactly the type of bureaucratic red tape that we do not need.  I will continue to fight against this rule so that farms and businesses in our community do not suffer needless regulatory burden."

On May 12th, Dr. Benishek voted in favor of the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, a bill that would stop this rule from taking effect.

 

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Benishek, Sinema Reintroduce Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act

2015/05/20

Washington, D.C-  Dr. Dan Benishek, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Veterans Health, along with Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona announced today the introduction of the bipartisan Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act of 2015, a bill designed to hold VA employees responsible for solving problems.  This bill is a modified version of similar legislation that was introduced by Dr. Benishek in the last Congress.

"Bringing accountability and oversight to the VA remains an ongoing priority.  We must hold these bureaucrats accountable when they fail to live up to their mission to provide quality care to every veteran in need," said Dr. Benishek, who worked as a surgeon at the Iron Mountain, MI VA for over 20 years.

"It's unacceptable that issues raised by the VA Inspector General over and over, from wait times to medical staffing, remain unresolved by VA," said Congresswoman Sinema.  "This legislation would hold the VA Secretary and senior management accountable for ensuring these warnings are not ignored again.  We have a long way to go to change the system and culture of the VA, and I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure veterans come first."

Specifically, this bill makes a number of key changes to VA policy.  If passed, the bill would require the Secretary to identify by name the employee responsible for fixing an issue that comes to light following any Inspector General report.  This individual would be promptly notified of his or her status as a "responsible manager."  They would then be provided a mitigation plan to help resolve the issue cited in the report.  No responsible manager will be permitted to receive a year-end bonus until such time as the issue cited in the report is resolved.  If, during performance reviews, it is determined that the individual has repeatedly failed to solve the problem, the VA would then be equipped to relieve the individual of their position.

"This process is closer to the way that things work across the country in the private sector.  In Northern Michigan, we all know that if you don't do your job, you get fired.  It's time we brought this common sense practice to the VA, and my bill does that," said Congressman Benishek.    

 

Dr. Benishek spent 20 years as a VA doctor treating patients at the Iron Mountain VA facility.  As Chairman of the Veterans Health Subcommittee, he played an integral role in creating and helping to pass the landmark reform legislation, leading many of the hearings that uncovered the VA's incompetency.  Dr. Benishek was also successful in getting a new law enacted based on an idea from a local veterans that provides Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) greater access to federal surplus property, such as spare vehicles and equipment, for use at their facilities.  You can learn more about Dr. Benishek's Veterans Action Initiative here.    

 

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Contact Information

514 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-4735
Fax 202-225-4744
benishek.house.gov

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

MICHIGAN's 2nd DISTRICT

Justin Amash

MICHIGAN's 3rd DISTRICT

John Moolenaar

MICHIGAN's 4th DISTRICT

Fred Upton

MICHIGAN's 6th DISTRICT

Tim Walberg

MICHIGAN's 7th DISTRICT

Mike Bishop

MICHIGAN's 8th DISTRICT

Candice Miller

MICHIGAN's 10th DISTRICT

Dave Trott

MICHIGAN's 11th DISTRICT

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