By Ellen Lindblom
Marquette County Democrats — Northern Michigan University liaison
I would first like to thank Representative Benishek for his willingness to serve. Being a public servant is not an easy job, and although he’s not the man I would have chosen, that doesn’t mean his service is any easier. The First Congressional District is very large, the largest east of the Mississippi River in fact.
And although the job is tough, Benishek recently announced he’d be running for a fourth term. This is usually not overly controversial because many representatives and senators spend many terms representing the people of their state. The reason this “big” deal, is that Benishek said he wouldn’t run for more than three terms, and essentially he lied to the voters of the First District. Honestly, this isn’t really substantive news.
People are allowed to change their minds. Senators and representatives do this all the time. To me personally, the lie is not so much the issue. In my experience, people lie all the time. The reason for the lie seems noble and understandable on the outside, but it comes with a new promise and doesn’t change his record.
Benishek is claiming that he wants to better serve the veterans of Michigan. Although he is a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs but has only brought five pieces of legislation to help veterans to the floor over the past 6 years. Honestly, that’s quite a few for the “Do-Nothing Congress” we are suffering right now, but only one of them got the president’s signature.
The bill was called FOR VETS Act of 2013. First introduced on March 14, 2013 and finally passed the House and Senate and went to the President’s desk on August 9, 2013. The bill was actually passed to fix a typo that didn’t allow the bill to function as intended; to help veterans’ receive the goods and services promised by the original bill in 2010. It’s seriously boring legislation. It was non-controversial and passed with near unanimity in both chambers of Congress. In the end, it did fix the law and providing more support to veterans, but Benishek didn’t create anything new or introduce a major fix to the VA.
Benishek says he’s going to be a champion for the veterans, and I’m actually pretty certain he’d like to be. The veterans of our country deserve everything that we’ve promised to them as a nation – and more. I think most people agree. But what Benishek has actually done is more harm than good by his inaction on numerous bills that he refused to support. Like, for example, the Veterans Backlog Reduction Act, which would have given veterans waiting for their claim to be heard for more than 125 days to receive a provisional benefit compensation amount until their claim can finally be decided on. That would help a great deal of veterans waiting to receive benefits make it until they get what they deserve.
Let’s not also forget that Benishek voted to shut down the government in 2013 and cost to government $24 billion and voted against the emergency bill that would have kept veterans’ services open during the shutdown. At the same time he complained that the veterans memorials were closed to veterans on an honor flight.
So, in my opinion, the bigger lie is that Benishek actually plans on helping the veterans of this country and the people of the First Congressional District at all. From what I’ve seen, he has not gotten any new legislation that doesn’t fix a typo to help veterans. I don’t know why he thinks if he wins a fourth term in the House that he’s magically going to become a legislative champion.
Congress isn’t working for the people it claims to represent, and Dr. Dan is no exception. I know that Democrats are going to bring their A-game in 2016, so who knows, this might all just end up being hot air in the end. Either way, it’s time for Benishek to step up and prove he’s actually going to live up to his new promise and maybe he will earn the fourth term he feels he deserves.
Editor’s Note: Lindblom is a lifelong native of Negaunee, Mich. and a student at Northern Michigan University. She is also a candidate for president of the Northern Michigan University Democrats and vice president of the Michigan Federation of College Democrats. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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