LANSING, Mich. – When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was asked Tuesday about her latest battle with state Republicans over the handling of COVID-19, she said judgement of her actions will be left up to Michigan voters when election time arrives.
The governor was asked specifically about the Legislature earmarking money in the budget for in-face classes and local control over regulation of student athletics, presumably in an attempt to reduce her COVID-19 response powers.
“Where are you with that, and is there going to be a showdown with you and the Legislature in this regard?” Local 4′s Rod Meloni asked.
“I’m not going to predict where it’s headed, and I’m not going to use words like that,” Whitmer said. “I’m just going to say, obviously, no one’s going to be surprised to know that these are executive powers that no executive ever wants to have to use, but they need to rest in the executive branch.
“Ultimately, the buck will stop with the governor, and I will be judged by the voters when I am up for reelection.”
Whitmer said until then, she will focus on keeping residents safe and reengaging the economy.
“That is the oath that I took,” Whitmer said. “I serve 10 million people. I think, work, live, breath this job 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That doesn’t stop now. It, in fact, is more important than ever that I stay focused on that, and that’s precisely what I’m going to do.”
The governor and state Republicans have battled over the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic since Whitmer extended the state’s stay-at-home order for a third time in May.
Legislators had already revealed a week prior that they planned to let the state of emergency expire, only to watch Whitmer announce an extension without their approval that very day.
Michigan legislators filed a lawsuit against Whitmer, saying she acted “beyond her authority” by extending the state of emergency without their backing.
A back-and-forth battle spanning several months ultimately led to the Michigan Supreme Court striking down months of orders by Whitmer, through a ruling that she drew authority from a 1945 law that is unconstitutional.
Since that ruling, COVID-19 orders -- many of which mirror the restrictions Whitmer put in place before the Supreme Court decision -- have been issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.