The Michigan state government melted down on Wednesday after negotiations fell apart over extending Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers.
The state of emergency declared by Whitmer, which is separate from the recently extended stay-at-home order, is slated to expire Thursday, and she is requesting a 28-day extension from the Republican-controlled legislature.
Bridge Magazine reported Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey offered to lengthen the state of emergency by two weeks “in exchange for a public promise by the governor to work with lawmakers on future orders.”
Whitmer, who is angling to be Joe Biden’s vice presidential running mate, rejected the compromise and asserted that she has the absolute authority on emergency powers to manage the coronavirus pandemic, citing a 1945 law to do so.
“I am completely focused on saving lives. I’m not going to engage in political negotiations with anybody,” Whitmer told the media, ABC 12 reported.
“We don’t have time for politics and games when people’s lives are on the line,” she said of the squabble.
Shirkey was incensed after Whitmer released their private email exchanges to the media.
The Majority Leader was “extremely disappointed that he heard about the governor’s rejection based on her leaking an email to the press,” spokeswoman Amber McCann said, according to Bridge.
“If there was any interest in his caucus working with the governor, it has evaporated.”
Shirkey was more direct with Kyle Melinn of MIRS News.
“I’m a bit speechless,” he said, “about how do you respond to somebody who just gives you the double middle finger.”
Melinn noted it is Whitmer’s position that she is “in charge of emergencies.”
She’s made it very clear for a number of weeks now that she’s very comfortable being a dictator. This state was never, ever intended to be run by one person and so it doesn’t surprise me that she continues to act that way.
Shirkey said the state should transition to more of a “legislative-driven process” now that it is collecting more data.
He said he doesn’t anticipate doing anything with the governor, as there needs to be a “time for healing.”
He added that the legislature’s focus will be “protections” for those on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, another Democrat governor visited the White House in a show of unity with Republican President Trump.
“We’ve obviously turned the corner in Louisiana. We’re in a much, much better place than we thought was even possible five or six weeks ago,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in the Oval Office.
Edwards thanked Trump for his efforts to assist the state.
“We’re looking forward to moving ahead, and we just appreciate your work and your contribution to our efforts. It’s been very helpful,” he said.
Edwards said due to federal commitments, Louisiana is on pace to conduct 200,000 coronavirus tests a month.
“This is the big piece that we’ve been looking for, and with that commitment, we really feel much better about going forward,” Edwards said.