by Bruce Walker
In her last scheduled news conference prior to Thanksgiving, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used the COVID-19 pandemic to malign Republican legislators for taking scheduled time off to participate in the state’s annual deer hunting season and President Donald Trump for refusing to concede a loss in the 2020 election.
“I am hopeful that when the legislature returns from their hunting break, Republicans will share their plans for addressing the public health emergency our state is facing,” she said.
Whitmer did not mention that Republican leaders sued the governor last May when she extended her unilateral control of the state beyond April 30 to battle the pandemic. It wasn’t until the Michigan Supreme Court ruled the statutes used by Whitmer to seize such control unconstitutional on Oct. 2, voiding more than 100 executive orders issued by the governor since April 30.
This past Sunday, Whitmer announced a series of public emergency orders that will shut down many businesses and limit household gatherings for at least three weeks, including Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. The new rules were imposed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The governor said the president was repeating “untruths” regarding the election rather than pushing for national legislation to provide COVID-19 relief. During a question and answer period, she said presumptive president-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump by more than 150,000 votes in Michigan.
“We still don’t have a bipartisan relief package from the federal government,” she said, pinning the blame on the president.
“The president has expended more energy spreading untruths about the election outcome than he has listening to health experts and protecting the American people,” she said.
Whitmer noted the MDHHS orders that went into effect Wednesday morning are “both targeted and intended to be temporary.” Those orders close some businesses for three weeks while limiting the size of indoor gatherings, including family Thanksgiving dinners.
“These steps are what the public health experts tell us we need to take to avoid overwhelmed hospitals and death counts like we saw in the spring,” she said.
The governor also noted she had sent a letter Thursday to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump in which she urged them to pass another relief bill similar to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed last spring.
The letter was co-signed by Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, and Michigan House of Representatives Democratic Leader Christine Grieg, D-Farmington Hills. Whitmer said she invited state Republican leaders from the House and Senate to sign the letter, but they declined.
Asserting the state cannot “do it alone,” the Democratic leaders wrote: “Any future relief package must also include robust aid to states and localities to help combat the virus, mitigate its economic fallout, and protect essential services.”
The letter continued: “Federal support was critical to enabling Michigan to mount an aggressive pandemic response and stabilize our economy in the early months of the pandemic. Now, during the worst surge we have seen yet, Michigan and states across the country need more support to protect our families, frontline workers and businesses, like restaurants, entertainment venues, hotels, and countless more,” they wrote.
“Absent substantial, new, and flexible federal aid, Michigan will continue to experience revenue shortfalls in the year ahead that will require difficult budgetary choices, which in turn will have painful impacts at the worst possible time on our communities, workers, and families across the state.”
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.