Dan Benishek

Dan Benishek

MICHIGAN's 1st DISTRICT

Reps. Benishek and Thompson Launch the 114th Congress Invasive Species Caucus

2015/02/24

Washington, D.C.-  Today, Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) introduced the Congressional Invasive Species Caucus for the 114th Congress.  Co-chaired by Rep. Mike Thompson of California, this bipartisan caucus works to raise awareness of the impact of invasive species around the country.  The caucus provides members of Congress with educational opportunities about the economic and environmental damage of invasive species, while developing policy solutions to the environmental challenges that result from their spread.  This caucus was first founded by Dr. Benishek and Rep. Thompson in the 113th Congress and had over twenty Members from around the country.

"I've fished the lakes of Northern Michigan my whole life, and I've seen the damage done by invasive species, especially invasive phragmites and zebra mussels.   Now we are working to try and prevent the spread of Asian Carp. The importance of protecting both the Great Lakes and inland lakes from these species cannot be overstated.   These invasive species do real damage to both the environment and the economy.  I'm working with my colleagues in the Caucus to come up with an aggressive strategy to combat these environmental challenges," said Congressman Benishek.

"Invasive species pose a costly challenge to infrastructure, agriculture and the environment," said Thompson. "In our district, Clear Lake, Lake Sonoma and Lake Berryessa are all rated at the highest possible risk for quagga invasion. Our caucus will bring together experts and industry leaders, so we can come up with plans to protect our communities from invasive species before they become a major problem." 

Invasive species threaten communities by devastating native habitat, damaging crops, clogging water pipes, infecting plants and animals with dangerous diseases, or outcompeting native species. These impacts can lower crop yields, pose health hazards, irreparably damage natural environments, and take a severe toll on local, state, and federal budgets.

The Caucus plans to begin holding meetings and developing their legislative agenda in the coming months.    

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Dr. Benishek Introduces Bill to Address Gray Wolves

2015/02/12

Washington, D.C.-  On Wednesday, February 11th, 2015, Congressman Benishek, along with his colleagues, introduced legislation that would allow Michigan and other lake states to continue to responsibly manage wolf populations.   The introduction of this bill follows a decision by a Washington D.C. judge to return the gray wolf to the endangered species list, despite a determination by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service that the species had recovered. 

"I've lived in Northern Michigan my whole life, and I have a great respect for all of the wildlife here, including the wolves," said Dr. Benishek, a native of Iron Mountain, MI in the Upper Peninsula.  "After gaining valuable input from Michigan officials while helping to craft this legislation, I am pleased that this bill will empower state governments to be responsible stewards of the wolf population in order to balance the protection of the species with the needs of local communities."

Dr. Benishek is joined by a bipartisan group of thirteen additional co-sponsors.  The bill, H.R. 884, will direct the Secretary of Interior to reissue the rules regarding the status of the gray wolf in the Western Great Lake states and Wyoming.  While the bill does not alter the Endangered Species Act, it will allow the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to manage problem wolves and to keep wolf populations stable. 

Dr. Dan Benishek is an avid sportsman and a native of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  As Michigan's only member of the Natural Resources Committee, he has spearheaded efforts to protect iconic areas like the Great Lakes and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.   

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Dr. Benishek Announces Program to Help Veterans Become Farmers

2015/02/09

Washington, D.C.-  Following the announcement from the USDA to release $9 million in grant funds to minority and veteran farmers, Congressman Dan Benishek, a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, said the following:

"One of the biggest problems that veterans face upon returning home is finding stable employment.  Programs like these not only stimulate the economy, but also help provide different options for our vets who are transitioning into a post-military life.  This program is especially relevant to Northern Michigan given the abundance and strength of the agriculture economy in our area.  I encourage any interested veteran in our district to contact my office if they wish to receive more information on how to apply to this program."

The USDA initiative, known 2501 Program provides outreach and technical assistance to minority and veteran farmers and ranchers.  Since 2010, the program has distributed over $66 million in grants to over 250 recipients.  These funds are a result of the 2014 Farm Bill, which Congressman Benishek supported and helped to craft in the 113th Congress.

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 at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain for the past twenty years. 

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Dr. Benishek Announces Veterans Advisory Council

2015/02/06

Washington, D.C-  Dr. Dan Benishek, Michigan's only Member of the Veterans Affairs Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, announced today the 2015 Veterans Advisory Council, a group of First District veterans from an array of age groups, locations, and service branches.  This group exists so that Dr. Benishek can remain aware of the experiences veterans are facing on the ground in Northern Michigan.  The 2015 Veterans Advisory Council met for the first time yesterday and discussed issues related to VA reform, implementation of the Veterans Choice Act, and filling gaps in VA care with local community hospitals.

"While it's important to meet with VA officials and VSO leaders, I often get the best insights from veterans who are dealing directly with the VA on a regular basis," said Dr. Benishek.  "In the last Congress, Northern Michigan veterans helped me develop several bills that improved the lives of vets across the country.  I look forward to gaining their insights and to acting on their ideas."

The Veterans Advisory Council convenes regularly to discuss veterans' issues directly with Congressman Benishek.  The list of members can be found here.  A map of the First District cities that are represented can be found here.

This Council is part of an ongoing effort known as the Veterans Action Initiative, a comprehensive plan to better serve veterans in Michigan and across the country over the next two years.  

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 Demands Transparency from Veterans Department

2015/02/05

Washington, D.C.-   Congressman Dan Benishek, Michigan's only member of the Veterans Affairs Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, co-authored a bipartisan letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs (IG) and Secretary Robert McDonald calling for further investigation into the recently revealed problems at the Tomah, WI VA medical center.  An IG report that was not immediately released to the public or the House Veterans Affairs Committee detailed allegations of abuse of authority and over-prescription of narcotics at the facility.

"Dependence on prescription drugs is a crisis for American vets, and we must ensure that VA facilities are equipped to handle this challenging issue," said Dr. Benishek.  "As a doctor who worked at the VA, and as the father of a veteran, I am committed to holding the VA responsible and conducting vigorous oversight of these pain medication practices."

The letter calls on the VA to answer a number of questions related to current procedure to address opioid dependence and asks about the progress of the Opioid Safety Initiative, which was put in place to combat the over-prescription of these drugs.  The letter also questions the procedure followed by the IG that led to the report being not widely released.

"Even the appearance that the IG is hiding evidence or shielding VA from public criticism undermines its credibility and brings its independence into question," said Dr. Benishek. "If necessary I will take legislative action to ensure that IG investigations remain an effective tool for improving VA service and care for our veterans."

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. Dan Benishek Releases Statement on the President's Budget

2015/02/02

Washington, DC- Following the release of President Barack Obama's budget for Fiscal Year 2016, Congressman Dan Benishek (MI-01) released the statement below:

"I have called on the President to work more closely with America's new Congress on policies that improve the lives of hardworking families.  I do not believe, however, that the President's Washington-centered, tax and spend approach will create jobs and get people back to work.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to craft a budget that responsibly manages our debt and deficit while still funding the critical services that families, seniors, and veterans in Northern Michigan depend on every day."

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 at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain for the past twenty years. 

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Dr. Benishek Comments on VA Health Cost Hearing

2015/01/30

WASHINGTON, D.C.- On Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, Congressman Dan Benishek chaired a House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health oversight hearing regarding the quality and cost of medical care the Department of Veterans Affairs provides to veteran patients.  The hearing examined a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis comparing VA health care costs with those of private sector health care systems. The hearing also looked at non-cost factors such as quality of care and patient satisfaction that impact the overall value of the care VA provides. 

Dr. Benishek released the following statement with regard to the testimony revealed during the hearing:

"It is painfully obvious that the VA has failed to release even the most basic information on their cost and quality of care.  Without this information, it is exceedingly difficult to implement policy changes that increase health care access and affordability for our nation's heroes."  

In the months since VA's medical care wait times and accountability crises were exposed, the department's budget has generated much discussion.  VA officials have insisted the department needs even more money on top of the more than $16 billion in additional VA funding included in the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, which became law in August 2014. VA officials have also said the department needs to hire as many as 28,000 additional employees, but it is unclear what that figure is based on given that the department didn't even start tracking unfilled medical positions until June of 2014

In their report, CBO found that "...limited evidence and substantial uncertainty make it difficult to reach firm conclusions about [VHA's] relative costs..."  This uncertainty is the direct result of VA's failure to provide the information that is needed to assist Congress and the public in judging the value of VA's health care system. 

"After hearing the testimony of veterans' advocates, VA officials, and budget experts, it is clear that additional transparency will be required from the Department," said Dr. Benishek.   "It is my intent to pursue all avenues, including legislation, to ensure that Congress has access to the information it needs to make policy improvements for our veterans." 

Although the department repeatedly cites high patient satisfaction numbers, VA has been criticized by former VA Under Secretary for Health Kenneth Kizer for a "disturbing pattern of increasingly uneven quality of care" and by VA Assistant Inspector General for Healthcare Inspections John Daigh for having "lost its focus on the importance of providing quality medical care as its primary mission."

The witness list included:

Matthew Goldberg

Deputy Assistant Director

National Security Division

Congressional Budget Office

Carl Blake

Associate Executive Director for Government Relations

Paralyzed Veterans of America

On behalf of the Co-Authors of the Independent Budget

Louis Celli 

Director

Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation

The American Legion

James Tuchschmidt, M.D.

Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health

Veterans Health Administration

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

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.  Today's hearing is part of Dr. Benishek's Veterans Action Initiative a broader effort to improve the lives of veterans

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Dr. Benishek Comments Snowmobile Rule Change

2015/01/29

WASHINGTON, D.C.- On Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, the United States Forest Service (USFS) published a final rule for the use of snowmobiles in National Forests.  Rep. Dan Benishek (MI-01) released the following statement in response to the rule:

"Snowmobiling is not just a fun winter activity in Northern Michigan, but it is also vital to our local economy and helps keep local businesses going in some of the tougher winter months.  This rule puts a lot of responsibility on local forest superintendents.  During my snowmobile tour this week, I hope to learn from local constituents about ways we can better communicate the needs of all stakeholders to the Forest Service.  I plan on staying engaged on this issue in order to ensure that the needs of my constituents continue to be met."

The recent rule is a result of a 2013 court decision ruling that ordered the USFS to designate  the roads, trails, and areas on National Forest Service lands  that allow for snowmobile use.  Only units of the Forest Service with sufficient snow cover to sustain  snowmobile traffic are impacted by the rule, and many of those have already designated  as allowed for use.

Moving forward, according to the released rule, areas that have already been designated for use do not have to reconsider their status.  However, those areas that have not completed designations will be expected to complete their plans for snowmobile use in a timely manner, as well as to publish physical and virtual  maps available for public use.

"I'm looking forward to getting out on a sled and talking with folks about this issue tomorrow and Friday.  I want to hear what they have to say, and  I want to ensure that local voices continue to be heard by the Forest Service, as this issue is so important to our local economy."

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 at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain for the past twenty years. 

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Benishek-Led Committee to Examine Quality and Cost of VA Health Care

2015/01/28

WASHINGTON, D.C.- On Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, Congressman Dan Benishek will Chair a House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health oversight hearing regarding the quality and cost of medical care the Department of Veterans Affairs provides to veteran patients.  The event will be held at 10:15 AM in Cannon 334.

The hearing will examine a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis comparing VA health care costs with those of private sector health care systems. The hearing will also look at non-cost factors such as quality of care and patient satisfaction that impact the overall value of the care VA provides. 

The following event is open to the press:

WHO:       Subcommittee on Health

WHAT:    "Examining the Quality and Cost of VA Health Care"

WHEN:    10:15 AM, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015

WHERE:  334 Cannon House Office Building and streaming here

In the months since VA's medical care wait times and accountability crises were exposed, the department's budget has generated much discussion.  VA officials have insisted the department needs even more money on top of the more than $16 billion in additional VA funding included in the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, which became law in August 2014. VA officials have also said the department needs to hire as many as 28,000 additional employees, but it is unclear what that figure is based on given that the department didn't even start tracking unfilled medical positions until June of 2014

In their report, CBO found that "...limited evidence and substantial uncertainty make it difficult to reach firm conclusions about [VHA's] relative costs..."  This uncertainty is the direct result of VA's failure to provide the information that is needed to assist Congress and the public in judging the value of VA's health care system. 

VA's requests for additional resources come despite the fact that until the most recent fiscal year, VA left hundreds of millions in health care funding unspent every year since 2010 as thousands of veterans languished on waiting lists and the department squandered more than $1 billion on a host of botched construction projectsand acquisition failures.  

Although the department repeatedly cites high patient satisfaction numbers, VA has been criticized by former VA Under Secretary for Health Kenneth Kizer for a "disturbing pattern of increasingly uneven quality of care" and by VA Assistant Inspector General for Healthcare Inspections John Daigh for having "lost its focus on the importance of providing quality medical care as its primary mission."

The witness list is as follows:

Panel 1

Matthew Goldberg

Deputy Assistant Director

National Security Division

Congressional Budget Office

Carl Blake

Associate Executive Director for Government Relations

Paralyzed Veterans of America

On behalf of the Co-Authors of the Independent Budget

Louis Celli 

Director

Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation

The American Legion

James Tuchschmidt, M.D.

Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health

Veterans Health Administration

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

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.  Today's hearing is part of Dr. Benishek's Veterans Action Initiative a broader effort to improve the lives of veterans

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Benishek, Huizenga Announce 2nd Annual 2015 Congressional Snowmobile Ride

2015/01/28

 

Washington, DC - The 2015 Congressional Snowmobile Ride will begin on Thursday January 29th at the Full Moon Diner & Saloon in Muskegon.  This year's event will cover Lake, Mason, Muskegon, and Oceana Counties in the Second District on Thursday, and travel through Benzie and Manistee Counties in the First Congressional District on Friday. Congressman Huizenga & Congressman Benishek will hold town hall events at each location along the route.  Residents of the community are encouraged to attend the town halls and are welcome to join the Congressmen on the trail if they have their own snowmobiles.  Press is also welcome to attend the events but an RSVP is requested.  Snowmobiling is a key part of Michigan's outdoor economy which contributes nearly $19 billion in annual spending to our state and accounts for 194,000 jobs.

Thursday's ride will begin in Muskegon, head north to Montague, and be followed by stops in New Era, Branch Township, and Chase.  Friday's ride will begin in Wellston, followed by stops in Kaleva, Thompsonville, and Beulah. A more detailed description of both days is provided below. Please keep in mind these times are approximations and are not definitive deadlines.

Itinerary Thursday January 29, 2015

  • 8:00 AM - Coffee with the Congressmen at the Full Moon Diner & Saloon located at 3408 Whitehall Road in Muskegon. (Snowmobiling should get underway at approximately 9 AM)
  • 9:15 AM - Town hall at the VFW in Montague.  The VFW is located at 9370 Walsh Road.  (Congressman Huizenga's Veteran Specialist will also be on hand to assist veterans with any case work issues they may have.)  
  • 11:00 AM - Speak with employees and community members in a town hall format at Country Dairy.  Country Dairy is located at 3476 S 80th Avenue in New Era.
  • 1:15 PM - Arrive at River City Inn in Branch Township for lunch and town hall meeting.  The River City Inn is located at 8347 E Washington in Branch Township.
  • 5:00 PM - Dinner and town hall at Chase Creek Smoke House.  Chase Creek Smoke House is located at 7143 S Depot Street in Chase.

Itinerary Friday January 30, 2015

  • 8:00 AM - Coffee with the Congressmen at the Kozy Kitchen Restaurant located at 16938 Caberfae Highway in Wellston (Snowmobiling is expected to get underway at 8:45 AM)
  • Noon - Lunch and town hall at the Benzie Manistee Snowbirds Clubhouse located at 14121 Industrial Drive in Kaleva
  • 3:00 PM - Town hall at Geno's Sports Bar located at 14848 Thompson Ave. in Thompsonville
  • 5:00 PM - The Congressional Snowmobile Tour comes to a conclusion in Beulah 

 

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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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