Dan Benishek

Dan Benishek


Dr. Benishek Announces Opening of New District Office in Alpena


ALPENA, MI: Today, Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) announced the opening of his First Congressional District Office in Alpena, Michigan.

“I am very excited about this new office in Alpena and the opportunity to reach more constituents in the Eastern part of the First Congressional District. Our goal is simply to provide greater access for the people of Northern Michigan and this new office will do just that. Being able to help those who are having problems with the Federal Government, whether it be acquiring their veterans benefits or helping with an overseas adoption, is the most rewarding part of representing this great district,” said Dr. Benishek, a lifelong resident of Northern Michigan.

The Alpena Office will be open to all constituents who need help with various issues pertaining to a government agency. District staffers are equipped to deal with a range of issues such as corresponding with the IRS, obtaining passports and visas, veterans issues, Medicare, military cases, Social Security, and disability claims. If you can't get an answer from a federal agency in a timely fashion, or if you feel you have been treated unfairly, Dr. Benishek’s district offices may be able to help resolve a problem or get you the information you need. While we cannot guarantee you a favorable outcome, we will do our best to help you receive a fair and timely response to your problem.

The Alpena Chamber of Commerce will be present for a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, December 12th to officially open the office. On Monday, December 15th, Dr. Benishek will be in the Alpena Office for an open house, where constituents are invited to meet their Congressman and learn about the services the new office will offer.

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Dr. Benishek's Statement on the Bipartisan Bill to Fund the Government


WASHINGTON, DC: Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) today released the following statement regarding the compromise in Congress to continue to fund the federal government:

"I supported this bipartisan bill to fund the government while cutting wasteful spending in order to provide certainty for families and businesses in Northern Michigan. While it is not the perfect solution, this bill will keep the government operating and continue to fund programs that are important to our district. This bill funds the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), makes additional cuts to government bureaucracy that is the result of Obamacare, and funds several programs that are important to our farmers in Northern Michigan. It will also guarantee our troops will get paid and that our seniors and veterans will continue to get their benefits.  I remain committed to finding solutions that encourage economic growth, protect the future for our children and grandchildren and helps families here in Northern Michigan."

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Dr. Benishek Honors Local Gold Star Mother


WASHINGTON, DC: Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) released the following statement after the Senate passed H.R. 2223, which will name the post office building in Munising, Michigan after Mrs. Elizabeth L. Kinnunen.  The legislation, which was written by Dr. Benishek and passed by the House of Representatives in July 2014, is now headed to President Obama's desk for signature.

"Mrs. Kinnunen's family should be incredibly proud of her life's accomplishments, as well as her dedication to her family and this great country. After years of hard work by the Munising community, Mrs. Kinnunen will be forever honored and celebrated in Northern Michigan. As an upstanding citizen and devoted two gold-star mother, Mrs. Kinnunen certainly earned this designation." 

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, Eino Kinnunen and Raymond Kinnunen, were both killed defending America's freedom.  Eino 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.

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Dr. Benishek Praises Reauthorization of Great Lakes Funding


WASHINGTON, DC: Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) praised the passage of H.R.5764, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Act of 2014, which would formally authorize the GLRI at $300 million annually from 2015 to 2019. Dr. Benishek is an original cosponsor and has continually fought to fund initiatives to restore the Great Lakes.

"The Great Lakes are vital to our way of life up here in Northern Michigan, with many aspects of the economy depending on the viability of our waterways. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has funded several valuable projects here in Northern Michigan, from the Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Protection Project to the Beaver Island Archipelago Invasive Species Initiative. Fully funding GLRI will give local communities across our district the ability to effectively combat invasive species, clean up local beaches, and restore local watersheds,” said Dr. Benishek, the only member of the Michigan delegation on the House Natural Resources Committee.

More than 1.5 million U.S. jobs are directly connected to the Great Lakes, and they generate over $62 billion in wages each year [1]. The GLRI will continue to address invasive species and pollution, restore and clean up toxic hot spots along the shores, and preserve natural wildlife habitats.

“I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to ensure that the GLRI funds important projects throughout Northern Michigan - from Traverse City to the Western UP - so we can keep our Great Lakes clean and healthy," added Dr. Benishek.

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. Michigan’s First Congressional District has over 1,600 miles of shoreline—the most in the continental United States and is the only District with shoreline on three of the five Great Lakes [2].

[1] Michigan Sea Grant at the University of Michigan, http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/8280

[2] Harvard Institute of Politics, http://www.ioportal.org/

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Dr. Benishek: We Must Act Now to End Veterans’ Suicide


WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) applauded the bipartisan passage of H.R. 5059, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act, which is designed to improve suicide prevention and mental health services for veterans.  A veteran in this country commits suicide every 65 minutes; meaning 22 lives are extinguished every day.

“As the father of a veteran, and a doctor who worked at a VA hospital in Northern Michigan, I know that the challenges of military life do not end once our service members return from active duty. Far too many of our veterans and military personnel have taken their own life after bravely serving our nation. The mental wounds of war may be invisible, but no less real to the young men and women suffering from them.  Facing high unemployment rates, the stigma of post-traumatic stress disorder, and a loss of military fellowship, returning veterans often face a crisis of confidence at the very moment they should feel nothing but relief and rest,” said Dr. Benishek, the Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health.

The Clay Hunt SAV Act will increase access to mental health care, address the shortage of mental health care professionals within the VA, and create programs to assist service members who are transitioning from active duty.

“The time to act to address the epidemic of veterans’ suicide is now.  With this bill, and continued focus on the health of our veterans, we can make a real impact,” added Dr. Benishek.

Dr. Benishek has been a leader in advocating for reform at the VA since coming to Washington in 2011 and is an original cosponsor of the Clay Hunt SAV Act. Dr. Benishek spent 20 years working as a surgeon at the Iron Mountain VA Hospital.  He is the only member from Michigan on the Veterans Committee and is Chairman of the Health Subcommittee. His "Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act" passed the House unanimously in June and he played an integral role in the passage of historic veterans reform legislation signed into law earlier this year.

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Dr. Benishek Helps Pass Legislation to Aid Disabled Americans


Dr. Benishek Helps Pass Legislation to Aid Disabled Americans

-Bipartisan Legislation Will  Empower Disabled Individuals and their Families-


WASHINGTON, DC:  Today, Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) praised the passage of H.R. 647, the “Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.” The ABLE Act will provide tax incentives to families with severely disabled children to encourage them to save for their child’s long-term expenses. Dr. Benishek is an original cosponsor of the bill, which received support from both sides of the aisle.

“As a father and grandfather, I know the importance of saving for long-term expenses, such as education and wellness. Today, we passed the ABLE Act, which will support and empower caregivers and families of individuals with disabilities. Families across Northern Michigan with disabled children will benefit from tax incentives, while saving money for future expenses. The ABLE Act will make it easier for both disabled individuals and their families and provide for financial certainty in the future,” said Benishek, a general surgeon from Iron River.

Benishek stated the ABLE Act would allow families to place money in tax-exempt “ABLE” accounts for use on expenses for education, a primary residence, transportation, obtaining and maintaining employment, health and wellness, and other personal support expenses. 

Approximately 60 millions are disabled, with 32.5 million having a severe disability.[1] According to data from 2000 U.S. Census, 49.7 million Americans, or nearly 1 in 5, and nearly 18.7% of individuals five years of age and older in Michigan live with some form of disability.[2]

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Dr. Benishek's Statement on President Obama's Executive Action on Immigration


WASHINGTON, DC: Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) released the following statement in response to President Obama taking executive action on immigration in the United States:

"We can agree that our current immigration system is broken, but a move to grant amnesty to certain individuals before others, without securing our borders or seeking the consent of Congress and the American people is not the solution.  This is the wrong move, and I hope the President will reconsider.

First and foremost, we need to secure our borders and send the message to the rest of the world that we do not support illegal immigration. We need to find a way to deal with those who are living in our country illegally that does not include blanket amnesty, while creating an easier path to legal immigration."

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Stabenow, Benishek, Peters Introduce Bill to Stop $100 Million Increase in Electric Bills for Upper Peninsula Families, Small Businesses


WASHINGTON, D.C. –   U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congressman Dan Benishek (MI-1), and Congressman Gary Peters (MI-14) today introduced legislation that would require additional oversight by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), allowing the agency to stop a pending $100 million annual electric rate increase for families and businesses in the Upper Peninsula. This legislation follows a recent regulatory decision made by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) that would force consumers in the Upper Peninsula to pay for 99 percent of the Presque Isle Power Plant’s operating costs. This decision by NERC upended an earlier FERC finding that UP customers should be responsible for 14 percent of the power plant’s operating costs. FERC shares oversight responsibilities and has a mandate to consider utility cost allocation issues.

The POWER Act would require FERC to review, analyze, and disapprove any NERC decision that resulted in unjust and unreasonable rate increases on families and businesses. This new authority would provide FERC a direct path to overturn unfair cost shifts resulting from NERC actions.

“Seniors, small businesses, and families in the UP should not be forced to pay for unjust and unreasonable rate increases, while the benefits of this plant continue to be shared with communities in other states,” said Stabenow. “This bill will help keep utility costs from increasing for Michigan families and seniors and keep the doors of small businesses open by creating a new pathway to make sure everyone is paying their fair share. I don’t expect my neighbor to pay my electric bill each month. No one should be forced to pay for unjust utility costs.”

“Residents of the Upper Peninsula—from families to seniors to schools and small businesses—can’t be expected to shoulder the burden of unfair rate increases,” said Rep. Benishek.  “These rate increases are unacceptable and I am committed to finding a solution that will ensure that residents of the Upper Peninsula are not forced to choose between keeping the lights on and putting food on their table this winter.” 

“With winter just around the corner, it is critical that Michigan families have access to reliable and affordable electricity in every part of the state,” said Rep. Gary Peters. “This bipartisan bill will help ensure that utility costs are distributed in a fair and equitable way.”

Last month, Sen. Stabenow and Rep. Benishek called for a moratorium on NERC’s decision and asked FERC to consider the Michigan Public Service Commission’s complaint that the resulting rate increases for people in the UP are not just and reasonable. Earlier this week, FERC announced it would delay the UP rate increases that were previously expected to begin on December 1 in order to further investigate the problem.




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Dr. Benishek Announces Legislation to Protect UP from Pending Rate Increases



Iron Mountain, MI:  Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) announced he will be introducing legislation that will work to address the pending electric rate increases currently proposed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, while also protecting all ratepayers in the future from extreme changes in their energy bills that are the result of government mandates.

“Families and businesses in the UP are about to experience firsthand the consequences of DC bureaucrats making decisions that do not take into account the overall impact on the community, and are made before real solutions are found,” said Dr. Benishek.  “It is bad enough that burdensome regulations from the EPA are causing necessary plants to close, but when you have a situation in which bureaucrats force a plant to stay open, force them to make expensive upgrades, and then change how the cost is spread among ratepayers – that is unacceptable and wrong.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is currently considering a number of cases that will impact energy rates in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  The cases revolve around the FERC requirement that the Presque Isle Power Plant remain operating for grid reliability purposes even though its owners are looking to close the plant.  In addition, new cost allocations are being considered that will change the traditional local balancing authority.  The changes in cost allocations may require UP residents to absorb a larger portion of the costs for ongoing operations and upgrades required at Presque Isle Power Plant, with some estimates running as high as $100 million.  Local utility providers have estimated that families would see on average a $30 increase in their monthly bill and small businesses would see a $500 monthly increase.

“I am proposing a commonsense bill that would simply say if the government is going to force a power plant to stay open for the purpose of grid reliability, then changes cannot be made that will negatively impact ratepayers until a long term solution is found to ensure reliability.  A reliable grid and electric supply is necessary for the UP and I am committed to working with all stakeholders to achieve that goal,” said Dr. Benishek.

Legislation can be introduced beginning November 12th when the U.S. House of Representatives reconvenes.  In addition to drafting legislation, Dr. Benishek has written the head of FERC calling for the postponement of the rate increases while also providing FERC petitions against their decision signed by UP residents.  Dr. Benishek also sent a letter to FERC with Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Representative Fred Upton (MI-06).  The letter requests that FERC work with the State of Michigan as a partner, and consider alternatives to implementing decisions that could result in rate increases for UP residents.  The letter includes exploration of new generation in the form of a commitment for a natural gas power plant in the UP as a possible alternative.   

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Dr. Benishek: UP Residents Making their Voices Heard on Rate Increases


Iron Mountain, MI:  Today Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) announced efforts by the citizens of Northern Michigan in making their voices heard to the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) regarding pending rate increases.

“If you talk to anyone in the UP these days, the pending rate increases are a top concern, and rightfully so.   These rate increases in the UP, where we already pay higher than average rates, are simply unacceptable.  This is the result of Washington bureaucrats making decisions without understanding the consequences that hard working families will face,” said Dr. Benishek.  “Many across the UP want their opinion heard and I am helping make sure that happens.  Every petition and comment that is delivered to my office, I am getting a copy to the regulators in charge of making these decisions. Until a long term solution to the UP’s energy needs is found, I will continue to fight against these unfair increases.”

FERC is currently considering a number of cases that will impact energy rates in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, including approval of new cost allocations that will reflect the new local balancing authority.  The changes in cost allocations may require UP residents to absorb a larger portion of the costs for ongoing operations and upgrades required at Presque Isle Power Plant, with some estimates running as high as $100 million.  Over 1300 Northern Michigan residents have contacted the office of Dr. Benishek expressing their opposition to the changes.   

Dr. Benishek has continued to advocate for Northern Michigan families and seniors, and believes that a long-term solution for energy reliability must be settled prior to rate changes being agreed upon in the UP.  He continues to meet and speak routinely with stakeholders and federal regulators in an effort to pursue a resolution to this issue.

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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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