Michigan Gov. Whitmer, GOP lawmakers at odds over COVID relief funds

House passed relief package giving authority to local health department instead of the governor

Michigan Gov. Whitmer, GOP lawmakers at odds over COVID relief

LANSING, Mich. – Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for unity in her State of the State address. But this week, the GOP-led state Senate has rejected appointments to various boards.

“This is one of the tools that we’re using to say ‘Governor let’s sit down, let’s have a real conversation.’ Instead of her talking at us, talk with us,” said Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton).

Republican lawmakers do not seem to think Whitmer’s call for unity and bipartisanship is genuine and point to the governor’s volume of executive orders over the last year that the Supreme Court found were not valid. However, their Democratic colleagues think otherwise.

RELATED: Michigan house ties billions in COVID aid to giving power to counties

“What they’re doing is saying we’re gonna spend time on rejecting appointments and not put in place the governor’s COVID plan,” said Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint).

The Legislature currently has billions from the federal government to allocate for COVID relief. The GOP-led House passed a plan Thursday that differs from Whitmer’s and includes a provision which would have local health departments, and not the governor, decide whether in-person classes are OK or school sports.

However, Whitmer will not abdicate that authority. Nesbitt said the Senate will take up the House plan in short order. Ananich is working on coming up with a compromise that will pass the chamber and not get a veto from the governor.

“I’m having conversations with my colleagues saying OK what do you want? How do we get to a place where we get things done?” Ananich said.

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