Whitmer: Trying to strip away governor's powers during COVID-19 pandemic is 'irresponsible, foolish'

Posted at 11:57 AM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 16:55:49-04

(WXYZ) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer criticized legislators who have made fighting the COVID-19 pandemic a "political issue" during a press conference Wednesday.

"In the midst of a global pandemic, it's really important to refrain from letting public health become a political football," she said. "Lives are lost when that happens."

She noted that Michigan was able to flatten the curve because of "quick, aggressive actions."

"Any attempt to strip away the powers of the governor during this crisis is irresponsible, dangerous and foolish," she said.

She went on to say that wearing masks should not be political and are designed to save lives as they dramatically lower the possibility of transmission.

In May, House Republicans announced a lawsuit against Whitmer over her emergency powers. The lawsuit stemmed over the Emergency Management Act of 1976 (EMA) and the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 (EPGA).

The Michigan Court of Claims ruled in favor of Whitmer in the lawsuit, saying that the Republicans challenge to the governor's authority to declare a state of emergency under the EPGA were "merit-less."

“While we are disappointed by aspects of this determination, we are vindicated in our assertion that the Governor acted unlawfully in attempting to extend the states of emergency and disaster under the Emergency Management Act without legislative approval. We are confident in our position and will appeal this ruling,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said.

"No governor in the country likes using these extraordinary powers," Whitmer said Wednesday. "No governor wants to be navigating a global pandemic, no governor relishes the actions we have to take. We have these powers for situations like this."

"If we hadn't taken the actions, thousands more would have died."

"For people to come in and make it a political issue is really foolish and dangerous," she said. "Regardless of party, whoever succeeds me, I hope they have the tools to keep me and my family safe."