Whitmer tells D.C. leaders to strike permanent deal post-shutdown

By: - January 26, 2019 9:00 pm

Gretchen Whitmer and Garlin Gilchrist held an event for the public at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, Jan. 26, 2019 | Nick Manes

The partial federal government shutdown may have come to a close on Friday — for at least three weeks — but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is urging leaders in Washington, D.C., to strike a permanent deal.

“I’m glad to see that they’ve got a reprieve, but they’ve got to get [a deal] done,” Whitmer told reporters at an event she held on Saturday afternoon at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. “It’s incumbent on everyone that they stay at work until the job is done.”

President Trump gave in to Democrats’ demands on Friday and fully re-opened the federal government without any money for his proposed border wall. That has been the major sticking point in the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, lasting 35 days.

Trump agreed to a three-week continuing resolution, but hinted on Friday that without money for some kind of increased fencing by then, he could shut down the government again or declare a national emergency. That tactic would allow the president to tap into military funds to build the wall, but would likely lead to significant court challenges.

The notion of another government shutdown gives Whitmer concern.

Federal workers rally in Detroit to end the government shutdown, Jan. 10, 2019 | Ken Coleman

“We cannot go back into a shutdown in three weeks,” Whitmer said. “The state of Michigan will be prepared if we do. But I am calling on Congress and the president to come together and to solve this problem, so that we don’t throw the whole world into chaos again.”

Whitmer was a member of the Michigan Senate during two brief state government shutdowns in 2007 and 2009. Michigan was facing huge budget deficits during the decade-long recession.

The impacts of the federal government closure in Michigan were wide-ranging, with more than 50,000 federal workers in Michigan — and about 800,000 nationally — working without paychecks. 

Democratic members of Congress, including Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.), Dan Kildee (D-Flint) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), convened those impacted by the shutdown. Food inspections, as the Advance reported, remain an area of concern, as they had largely lapsed during the shutdown. 

Supporters line up to meet Gov. Whitmer in Grand Rapids | Nick Manes

Whitmer also pointed to bipartisan legislation brought by U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) that would make state unemployment benefits available for federal workers, noting that she’s hopeful it passes in the event that there’s another shutdown.

Whitmer spoke to reporters after one of her “Winter Warm-up” events in Grand Rapids. She previously held events in Flint and Detroit.

Attendance was estimated at 2,500 — which is bigger than many campaign rallies in Michigan. Several hundred people lined up on Saturday to meet and get their photo taken with the governor and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II.

Gilchrist tweeted that he and Whitmer were “so grateful for the love we’ve received” from people in Grand Rapids.

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.