Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s evening address to the nation on countering the terrorist organization ISIS. Upton joined fellow House Republican leaders earlier today for an hour-long closed-door briefing on ISIS and the evolving situations in Iraq and Syria.
“ISIS poses a very serious and credible threat to the world and here at home. There is no question that we must destroy that radical threat before its terrors reach our shores. The United States should be part of a broad coalition of forces to get that job done, and I look forward to hearing the specific details of such a strategy in the days ahead.”
Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, today supported a bipartisan resolution (H.Res.644) condemning the Obama administration for its failure to properly notify Congress before releasing five senior Taliban members from the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) – the federal government’s independent internal watchdog agency – found the action to be in violation of U.S. law, which requires Congress to be notified at least 30 days in advance of such a transfer. H.Res.644 passed by a vote of 249 to 163.
“The administration broke the law, and in doing so deprived Congress of its responsibility to consider the sequences to our national security. The lack of accountability and regard for the law is appalling,” said Upton. “Time and again we have seen former captives return to the field of battle to take up arms against the United States and our allies. The five prisoners released in May were not casual observers; they were the ones the Taliban wanted back.”
On May 31, 2014, the U.S. Department of Defense released the five detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the State of Qatar, which brokered the exchange between the United States and the Taliban. Pursuant to the agreement, these five individuals are to remain in Qatar for one year. Each of these detainees was a senior Taliban leader who previously had associations with al-Qaeda or had engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.
In 2010, the Obama administration undertook an evaluation of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay to determine those who could be transferred. The evaluation concluded that the five men involved in the Bergdahl exchange were too dangerous to transfer.
While the Obama administration failed to properly notify relevant congressional leaders and committees of the exchange, approximately 80 to 90 administration officials and an unknown number of Qatari officials received notification prior to the transfer.
The GAO also found the administration to be in violation of the Antideficiency Act for spending nearly $1 million in excess of available appropriations to facilitate the transfer.Read More
The 21st century should offer the promise of using present-day methods of finding – and approving – medical drugs and devices, rather than being mired in 50-year-old practices, Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, told a group of Alzheimer’s Association advocates.
“There is no reason we should be using methodology from half a century ago instead of harnessing the technology available to us today,” he said during a meeting with invited caregivers and patient family members to discuss Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases at The Beacon Club in Portage. “The personal stories are tragically real and impact virtually every one of us in one form or another – whether it is a parent, spouse, or other loved one.”
This, Upton said, is part of the reason why his bipartisan 21st Century Cures initiative is in the midst of a months-long listening session, talking with researchers and regulators around the country on how to develop a faster and safer way to bring about development and approval of pharmaceuticals and medical devices in the United States.
Listening to those with personal experience of working and living with those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia is another spoke in the wheel of what drives his efforts, said Upton, who is also chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“Alzheimer’s is a challenging disease,” Upton said. “There is no cure and its impact on friends and family is difficult and devastating. This is one of dozens of illnesses and diseases that impacts families across the nation.
“We all need to have the best possible treatments – pharmaceuticals, procedures or devices – available to us and our families in the shortest amount of time possible in order to make sure we, or our loved ones, can benefit from them,” Upton said.
Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the United States, costing $214 billion in 2014, said Lindsay Brieschke, director of public policy for the Alzheimer’s Association Michigan Chapters. The cost is on target to reach $1.2 trillion by the mid-century.
“It is critically important that our elected officials understand its impact on Michigan residents,” Brieschke said, adding that she was happy for a chance to discuss the impact with Upton.
“This (21st Century Cures) initiative has the potential to influence the future of Alzheimer’s and we are thrilled to see Congressman Upton’s support,” she said.
Click here to learn more about 21st Century Cures
In the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, when first responders learned they couldn’t communicate with one another on their radios because agencies used different frequencies, the Federal Communications Commission began work to provide a national public safety communications network.
It was “a critical recommendation” from the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (The 9-11 Commission) to “have interoperability among first responders,” said Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, during a press conference Friday with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai.
“This is of the utmost importance to the safety and well-being of our first responders, not just here in Southwest Michigan but throughout the country,” said Upton, who serves as Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over communication and technology issues.
Upton and Pai met with a dozen representatives of law enforcement agencies throughout the Sixth Congressional District and the director of Michigan’s Public Safety Communications System to talk about the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), its benefits and challenges.
FirstNet grew from passage of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. It calls for using a portion of the proceeds from commercial spectrum auctions to fund FirstNet and its mission to provide nationwide broadband communications for first responders.
“No one wants this to fail,” Upton said of the sale.
Pai agreed. “This will be the first time something like this has been done,” he said. “It is complicated.
“But, hopefully, with the guidance of public safety officials, we can deliver. I know I will take what I have learned today from my meeting here to heart and let officials in Washington know how this affects people on the ground, those actually using the system as it is today.”
Kalamazoo Township Police Chief Tim Bourgeois lauded Upton and Pai for listening to local law enforcement leaders about concerns they have as FirstNet rolls out.
“Fred’s been great to work with on this issue and it’s helped make Michigan a leader in this area. The fact the commissioner came and met with us says volumes about his commitment to get it right,” Bourgeois said.
Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Deputy Chief Karianne Thomas added: “As we look to the future, these are the types of innovations the next generation of public safety officers are going to need in order to do their jobs. We have to give them the right tools.”Read More
By Aaron Mueller -
Congressman Fred Upton and FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai were in Kalamazoo Friday to discuss with local first responders plans for a nationwide public safety communications network.
During the meeting at the Kalamazoo Public Safety 911 Center, Pai and Upton shared details with public safety officials from across Southwest Michigan about how the network will be rolled out.
In 2012, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act called for the construction of the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety.
Upton said the effort began in response to the 9-11 terrorist attacks, when public safety agencies across jurisdictional lines could not establish radio communications.
"The number one recommendation from the 9-11 Commission was that we have interoperability between first responders," Upton said.
Using nationwide 700 MHz spectrum, officials hope FirstNet will put an end to communications challenges between agencies.
The plan calls for the FCC in 2015 to auction spectrum for commercial use in an effort to raise $7 billion for the public safety network, known as FirstNet, Pai told reporters Friday.
Pai said the plan is the first of its kind, and he admitted constructing and maintaining the network will be a "complicated endeavor."
"But hopefully with guidance from Congress and public safety agencies, we can deliver," Pai said. "We are deep in the details of how this is all going to work."
Kalamazoo County Sheriff Ric Fuller said he supports FirstNet and said it will help communication between agencies locally and statewide.
"We have great concerns knowing that we live in a pipeline of communications that's (small) but we have a tidal wave of info that is coming toward this pipeline that in the end is not going to be able to get through," Fuller said. "It's going to take things like this auction to make sure we have the pipeline big enough."
Kalamazoo Township Police Chief Tim Bourgeois, who has been a state leader in public safety communication, said making FirstNet functional and efficient is critical for the future of first responder communication.
"We have one chance to do this, and we can't afford for it to go wrong," Bourgeois said, adding that FirstNet will help determine the effectiveness of communication for the next generation of first responders.
The spectrum auction was originally scheduled for this summer but was delayed to the middle of 2015 in order to work out the details of what FCC officials say will be a complicated auction.
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2183 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Fred Upton (MI-06) is proud to represent the commonsense values of southwest Michigan. In 2010, Fred was selected by his House colleagues to serve as Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has jurisdiction over matters concerning energy, healthcare, the environment, telecommunications, commerce, manufacturing, and trade, as well as oversight and investigations.
Prior to his election to Congress, Fred worked for President Ronald Reagan in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). While at OMB, he learned from President Reagan’s example that it does not matter who gets the credit, as long as the job gets done.
Fred has a well-earned reputation for getting things done in Washington and at home in southwest Michigan. The South Bend Tribune writes that Fred “attacks government spending and wants tax cuts retained and the budget balanced.” Fred’s hometown paper, The Herald Palladium, praises Fred as someone who has “consistently fought against out-of-control spending and bigger government” and has “always treated constituent services as a vital part of his job.”
Fred’s top priorities are job creation and economic growth in southwest Michigan.
Fred strongly supports an “all of the above” energy strategy that puts a greater emphasis on domestic energy production, the advancement of breakthrough technologies, and the development of safe nuclear power. Fred has also been a leading opponent of overreaching federal regulations that stifle economic growth, harm jobs, and raise energy costs for Michigan families and businesses.
Fred values our constitutional system of government checks and balances. Fred is focused on ensuring the federal government remains limited, transparent, and accountable, as our Founding Fathers intended. As Energy and Commerce Chairman, Fred has led the over-year-long investigation of Solyndra, the now-bankrupt solar company that was the recipient of a half-billion dollar Department of Energy loan guarantee.
Fred has also worked to increase the deployment of telecommunications services as well as ensure that free speech and private innovation remain the hallmarks of this industry by opposing needless regulation. Fred helped oversee the successful transition from analog to digital broadcasting – one of the top priorities of the 9-11 Commission. Fred has also worked to guarantee that our children are protected from online predators and indecent material.
Fred has pushed for a greater emphasis on biomedical research to improve the public health. As Energy and Commerce Chairman, one of Fred’s top priorities is to repeal the President’s controversial healthcare law and replace it with commonsense, market-based reforms that benefit patients, doctors, and employers.
Fred was born on April 23, 1953 and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan. He and his wife Amey have two children.
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The US has always been a nation of big ideas & big projects. We can't build big things w/ new layers of red tape in the way - @RepFredUpton
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Joined earlier this week by the head of Mattawan-based MPI Research, William Parfet, who took part in our all-star 21st Century Cures roundtable.
Thirteen years ago this morning, our nation was shaken as nearly 3,000 innocent men, women, and children lost their lives in the September 11th
ISIS poses a very serious and credible threat to the world and here at home. There is no question that we must destroy that radical threat before
Our all-star #Path2Cures roundtable discussion begins this morning at 10. Participants include Mattawan-based MPI Research, inventor Dean Kamen,
With nine bills on the House floor this week, my Energy and Commerce Committee looks to build upon our strong record of bipartisan success. But