LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — State Republicans are reacting to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ new epidemic order, with one state representative calling for the impeachment of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
In a tweet, Rep. Matt Maddock said he and a growing list of Michigan legislators will be calling for impeachment hearings after the new restrictions were announced Sunday night.
Maddock, R-Milford Township, also posted on a Facebook a list of “impeachable conduct.”
WHITMER: REPUBLICANS SHOULD FOCUS ON THEIR JOBS
In an interview with News 8 Monday morning, the governor said the new epidemic order is within the powers given to her administration.
“We are using powers created by the Legislature and given to the director of Health and Human Services and upheld by the Supreme Court for incidents specifically like these,” Whitmer told News 8.
When asked about the criticism from Republican leaders, Whitmer said they have not been taking the pandemic seriously, noting a recent outbreak in the Legislature.
“If they spent half as much time doing their jobs as they have criticizing how I’m doing mine, we would be in a much stronger position. Unfortunately, they haven’t shown real seriousness here,” Whitmer told News 8 Monday morning. “They won’t do a mask mandate. They can’t even wear masks themselves and they got COVID spreading through the Republican caucuses in both the Senate and in the House. Right now, they are on hunting break through December. We are in an urgent crisis.”
The governor went on to call on lawmakers to do their jobs.
“The Legislature could be meeting right now, passing legislation. They are on hunting break until December,” Whitmer said, referencing the two-week recess that lawmakers take every year around this time. “They have done very little over the course of the last nine months. We don’t have time to wait for people to start doing their jobs. I’m going to do mine and I’m going to use every tool available to do that.”
A spokesperson for the Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield told News 8 last week sponsors of the GOP plan want the governor’s feedback but “they haven’t heard anything yet.”
Whitmer said she has asked for the Republicans’ plan but they have not shared it with her.
“We have looped them into our meetings. But in asking them what your plan is, what are your actions, they don’t have one,” she said. “That is precisely why we just can’t simply wait for people to come to the table. We have to act now. I will continue to make available information and opportunities to work together but I’m not going to wait for them to come back from hunting break. We have got lives on the line and we have to act.”
REPUBLICANS WAITING FOR GOVERNOR TO WORK ‘IN GOOD FAITH’
Lawmakers, for their part, say they would be happy to go back to Lansing if there was something the legislative and executive branches could agree on.
“We don’t take this lightly in any way, but anything that we do needs to be signed by the governor so we’re trying to do it at the onset of where can we work with each other on this issue,” Rep. Greg VanWoerkom, R-Norton Shores, said. “And (when) phone calls aren’t returned and emails aren’t returned, it becomes difficult to make progress on that. we will be ready at the moment’s notice and if we feel that the governor is willing to work with us in good faith in passing some more bills.”
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said in a Sunday statement the governor did not reach across the aisle for help and went at it alone. He said Senate Republicans will continue to work with the medical community on ways to fight the virus.
Shirkey released the following statement Sunday night:
“The health and safety of our communities is our top priority. The Senate Republicans have been engaged in thoughtful conversations with our doctors, hospitals, and the Whitmer administration on ways to combat the spread of this insidious virus and help support our healthcare workers. While we’re meeting in good faith, Gov. Whitmer was working on her own strategy that did not include input from the Senate Republicans and we see the result of her plans in this latest round of restrictions.Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey
“The Senate Republicans still have faith in our fellow citizens and encourage them to protect themselves and others by adhering to the practices we know can help combat the spread of this insidious virus: washing hands, maintaining distance, and wearing a mask when it’s appropriate.
“We are disappointed that Gov. Whitmer chose to go it alone, again. The Senate Republicans will continue working with our doctors and the medical community on ways we can combat this virus and are ready to work with the Governor when she decides to work as a team to fight this virus.”
As it stands now, the Legislature will likely return to session about a week before the most current orders are set to expire.
—News 8 political reporter Rick Albin contributed to this report.