U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) unveiled her security agenda in her State of the District address on Feb. 10, 2021, targeted toward improving the health, economic, and physical security of Michiganders. Slotkin laid out a broad agenda that tackles a range of security issues, from addressing the public health threat caused by the COVID-19, to confronting the growing threat of domestic terrorism, to addressing the rising cost of healthcare and prescription drugs that keep Michiganders from feeling economically secure.
“For 14 years, as a CIA officer and later as a senior Pentagon official, my job was ensuring the security of American citizens,” Slotkin said in her remarks. “Now, as your member of Congress, it still is. It’s just that my definition of security has been dramatically expanded and re-shaped in my short time as your representative. When folks come up to me at the grocery store, they ask me whether things are going to be okay, whether they’re going to make it. They ask me if they’re going to have to go bankrupt purchasing the insulin they need to live. Their world is not secure. They wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night — not because of Al-Qaeda or ISIS — but that they fear for their health, their livelihood, and for their kids.
“Health security is whether we can keep our loved ones healthy, and afford to pay the bills when they are not. We have to help our communities get through this pandemic, make sure that people don’t go broke if they happen to get sick, lower the cost of life-saving medication, and make sure our veterans get the care they need.
“Economic security is knowing that you are set to do better than your parents, and your kids are set up to have more opportunity than you ever had. We need to build our economy back stronger, more resilient; support our small businesses, boost American manufacturing, and expand the number of good jobs that help everyone get to and stay in the middle class –– right here in Michigan.
“And finally, I will of course remain focused on physical security, the ability to feel physically safe from harm. We need, at the most basic level, to keep our kids from harm. That means the water they drink should be safe. And it means that we can take on emerging threats of domestic terrorism, cyber attacks.
“Your security, now and forever, is my job. More, it’s my mission.”
Slotkin’s First Term By the Numbers
As Slotkin kicks off her second term in Congress, she builds on key legislative and constituent services accomplishments of her first term:
• Slotkin introduced 25 bipartisan bills — 18 of which were passed by her House colleagues.
• Slotkin had over a dozen bills, amendments, or provisions signed into law with bipartisan support — nearly half of which address PFAS contamination.
• Slotkin took over 630 bipartisan votes on the House floor.
• Slotkin responded to 105,000 messages from constituents who had called or written to her. Slotkin’s office helped return $1.29 million from federal agencies to residents — including $210,699 from the VA, $267,540 from the IRS, and $555,737 from Social Security.
• Slotkin has held 30 town halls and large public forums. She held 307 meetings with constituents, community leaders and stakeholders, and visited 90 small businesses and 69 non-profit organizations in the 8th district.
SLOTKIN’S SECURITY AGENDA
Fight COVID, protect Michigan families and businesses. Our health security agenda for the next year begins with fighting COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic hit Michigan especially hard, causing a once-in-a-generation health and economic crisis. The virus has claimed over 15,000 lives in Michigan, as many people as a full Breslin center. Even more have gotten sick, are struggling to keep their business open, are going to food banks for the first time in their lives just to get through the week with enough to feed their family, and have strained their mental health. Congress has passed six bipartisan bills so far to provide relief in the form of stimulus checks, expanded unemployment, loans and grants for our small businesses, and more. But we have to continue to meet this security threat with the response it deserves. We must:
• Supercharge distribution of the vaccine.
• Pass another round of relief to get more help to our small businesses so that they can access the PPP and EIDL loan programs, including targeted support for our smallest businesses and minority-owned businesses.
• Continue supporting the food banks and the tens of thousands of Michiganders who remain unemployed.
• Make sure we’re supporting Michigan’s economy for the long haul in stimulus legislation.
• Honor our front-line workers for their service to their country and communities.
• Make life saving medicine and healthcare affordable. If you don’t have access to healthcare you can afford, that is a threat to your security. I know this personally, having lost my mother to ovarian cancer after she struggled to afford healthcare for years due to a preexisting condition. It was the greatest threat to my family I had ever felt. I will not take my foot off the gas to:
• Make sure people with preexisting conditions don’t get charged more.
• Increase access to health care, by ensuring everyone has access to affordable health insurance.
• Lower out-of-pocket prescription drug costs, by allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices and making sure folks know how much a prescription costs before they leave their doctor’s office.
• Increase drug pricing transparency, particularly for insulin.
• Prevent pharmaceutical companies from getting tax breaks for pushing their drugs.
• Make cheaper, generic drugs more easily available.
• Support individuals and families living with disabilities and those who face compounding crises of mental health and substance use.
• Live up to our special responsibilities to care for our veterans, from suicide prevention to healthcare for injuries and disabilities that are a result of their service.
Bring manufacturing back to America. We should never again be dependent on foreign manufacturers for the supplies we need to keep Americans safe in a crisis. I’ll never forget the experience of tracking down shipments — any shipment — of essential supplies for our doctors and nurses in the early days of the pandemic. Never again. Boosting domestic manufacturing, particularly of critical supplies we need to fight a pandemic, is a matter of national security. We can tackle this threat, and support good-paying jobs here in the U.S. –– and in Michigan, where we make things and build things –– and in the process:
• Reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical medical supplies by overhauling and updating our national Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), and boosting domestic manufacturing of those supplies here in America. We can pass my bipartisan Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act, which I introduced after our experience in Michigan scrambling to get ahold of protective equipment in the early days of the pandemic.
• Strengthen “Buy American” provisions for the federal government –– so that they act more like a requirement than a recommendation. Given the federal government’s huge purchasing power, beefing up these requirements could dramatically ramp up our country’s manufacturing sector and preparedness.
• Apply the Defense Department supply chain preparedness protocols to the full federal government, to increase resilience.
• Harness the power of Michigan’s auto industry and manufacturing know-how for defense innovation. Michigan’s workforce and expertise have so much to offer the Department of Defense as it modernizes –– from automation, to robotics, cyber, and a new generation of vehicles. I want to help bring more of those opportunities and jobs to our state.
Reform our immigration system and protect our borders. Our immigration system is broken and badly in need of reform –– it isn’t working for anyone. While it’s sometimes taboo in Washington, I still believe a bipartisan, comprehensive fix on immigration reform is possible. Through common-sense reforms and compromise, we can construct an immigration system that reflects our values, morals, and history as a nation of immigrants, while protecting our borders:
• Key our immigration system to our economy. In particular, we need to create a more streamlined and robust temporary worker system for our farmers and tourist centers like Mackinac Island, that depend on high-skilled immigrant workers.
• Vigilantly protect our borders, including by investing in smarter, effective border security, leaning on emerging technologies. We do not need to choose between maintaining security at our borders and living in accordance with our values as a country. This is a false choice –– we can and must do both.
• Live up to our nation’s values and morals. Migrants detained at the border must be treated with dignity, and our country should remain a refuge for those fleeing violence and persecution.
• Address the root causes of displacement that is forcing migrants away from their homes, to risk the long and perilous journey to the United States.
• Preserve and protect DACA. Dreamers have grown up in this country and are productive members of our society either attending school, serving in the military, or working. They deserve to be protected.
Treat environmental security like homeland security. I believe environmental security should be treated like homeland security — because it’s about the safety of our kids and the preservation of our way of life here in Michigan. From PFAS chemicals in our groundwater, to the health of the Great Lakes, these are issues that impact our health and safety:
• Ensure that every Michigander has access to drinking water that is safe from PFAS, lead, and other contaminants.
• Work with new leadership at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to push to establish a stringent, national standard on PFAS.
• Use my position on the House Armed Services Committee to keep pressure on the Pentagon to address clean-up in and around military bases, which make up significant sources of contamination here in Michigan.
• Stop the use of products containing PFAS by our military –– creating a huge incentive for manufacturing of non-PFAS goods for the military market.
• Treat the climate crisis like the national security threat that it is, by helping to ensure that our intelligence community stands ready to assess its risks to our national interests, and helping our armed forces, diplomats, and aid workers prepare and respond to its impacts.
• Just as Michigan was the “Arsenal of Democracy” during WWII, our state is primed to build an Arsenal of Clean Energy by developing the next generation of electric vehicles, batteries, and the other technologies to reduce our carbon footprint.
• Take the lessons learned from Line 5 to enhance pipeline safety –– to prevent pipelines from threatening our Great Lakes.
Take on emerging threats of domestic terrorism and cyberattacks. As recent events have laid bare, the single greatest threat to America’s national security is the internal division in our own country. The 20 years of the post 9/11 era, where our nation’s greatest threats were external, is officially over. In addition, we are on the heels of an historic act of cyber espionage against our government and companies, with cyber threats impacting our local communities here in Michigan every year. As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, and the Chairwoman of the Intelligence & Counterterrorism Subcommittee, I plan to address these threats directly:
• Build a shared vocabulary. In order to really confront this serious threat to our communities, we need to ensure that we’re all talking about the same thing — laying out a common terminology for domestic terrorism threats.
• Root our work in a shared understanding of the threat. Having spent a career as an intelligence analyst, I know how critical it is that our work be based on professional, unbiased analysis of the threats we face — a common set of facts, rooted in data and evidence, that give us a clear picture of the challenge at hand.
• Work toward legislative solutions to address the rise of domestic terrorism in our country. This will be hard work, and there are important civil rights concerns to take into account, but as the rise of extremism impacts our communities in Michigan, and has posed a threat to our fundamental democratic principles, it is necessary to explore legislative solutions to the problem.
• Ensure that our national commitment to tackling domestic terrorism lives up to our values in every sense — by creating safeguards and conducting robust oversight to protect civil rights, privacy, and communities that have been improperly targeted in the past.
• Ensure that combatting domestic terrorism and white supremacist extremism is a priority for our entire government, and consistent with our highest values.
• Hold social media and platform companies accountable for dealing with their role in the crisis of disinformation and conspiracy theories, and work with them to tackle it in a measurable, transparent way.
• Support the work of community leaders who are helping fight the insidious impacts of conspiracies, disinformation, and hate.
• Work with our senior military and law enforcement leaders to ensure that domestic extremism has no home in our uniformed services.
• Strengthen the foundational educational programs that are core to our democracy: civics, digital literacy and critical thinking, Holocaust and genocide awareness, and anti-hate education.
• We must rebuild: our democracy simply cannot survive if Americans retreat into their own silos, ignoring those who disagree with them. Anyone who thinks that we can just divide into two Americas hasn’t been to Michigan, and certainly hasn’t been to Michigan’s eighth district. I simply refuse to accept that irreconcilable division as the new norm in our country.
• Examine our government’s cybersecurity challenges in the wake of the SolarWinds breach, working to fix them and to ensure that cybersecurity is treated as a national security priority, across the government.
• Give our state and local governments the tools and funding they need to defend against cyber threats and modernize their digital infrastructure.
• Improve our government’s ability to leverage the innovative talent and cutting-edge work of private-sector cybersecurity organizations, through enhanced collaboration.
• Create more pathways for people of all backgrounds to learn the foundational skills that can help them get good jobs helping protect our communities from cyber threats.
• Continue to work to build resilience against the cyber attacks that disrupt the infrastructure we rely on — from healthcare and medical supply chains, to power and water.