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Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

WSW: Upton Has More Questions About Flint

Matt Sedensky, The Associated Press

West Michigan Congressman Fred Upton says the bottom line on Flint is “It never should have happened.” He says now it’s important to help families in that city. 

But Congress is holding investigations into how the crisis started. The House Energy and Commerce Committee was briefed by Environmental Protection Agency officials about their knowledge of lead contamination in Flint’s drinking water. Upton is the chairman of that committee, and says there are more questions to be answered.

Upton says another hearing is scheduled for Friday. He says another oversight committee will question state officials about their role in the crisis. President Obama has issued a disaster declaration, but did not declare a state of emergency in Flint as Governor Rick Snyder requested. Asked if Congress could approve more money for the city, Upton says it would be unusual for a supplemental appropriation for a situation like the one in Flint.

Upton sat down with WMUK’s Gordon Evans on Wednesday. On other issues:

21st Century Cures

Upton has been pushing a package of bills to streamline the process for approving new drugs and treatments. The 21st Century Cures bill has passed the House, and is awaiting action in the Senate. Upton says President Obama using his State of the State Address to call for a “moonshot” to cure cancer should help get the bills moving in the Senate. Upton says Vice President Biden has pledged his support try and get the legislation passed.

Interview with Fred Upton - web version

Drug Prices

Drug costs have been getting attention on the campaign trail. Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump says Medicare should be able to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to bring down costs. Upton says the 21st Century Cures legislation could help bring drug prices down by reducing the time it takes to get drugs to market. But he says it’s not clear that allowing Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies would hold down prices and keep the same drugs available.

Ibrahim Parlak

Turkish immigrant Ibrahim Parlak once again finds himself at risk of deportation. The owner of a restaurant in Harbert (and at one time Kalamazoo) has many supporters in Southwest Michigan saying he should remain in the U.S.. Upton and Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky have asked the Department of Homeland Security to reopen the case. Upton says there is evidence that if Parlak returned to Turkey he would likely be tortured and possibly killed. Upton says he’s working to get Parlak legal standing to stay.


The Energy and Commerce Committee is set to hold hearings on concussions. Concerns over head trauma have been prominent in football, although Upton says it’s also a problem in other sports. He says changes in the rules may help address the problem. Upton says new equipment may also help prevent concussions on the playing field.

Presidential Politics

Michigan’s Presidential Primary is March 8th. Upton says he has picked up his absentee ballot, but says it could be a while before he fills it out. Upton has not endorsed anyone for the Republican presidential nomination, and right now says he’s not leaning toward any candidate. “Our side, Republicans, don’t’ have the perfect candidate, but I don’t think the Dems do either.”

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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