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Whitmer asks business leaders to press GOP for COVID-19 relief

Gretchen Whitmer

Governor Gretchen Whitmer addressed an influential group of metro Detroit business leaders Friday and asked for their help to end a standoff over her COVID-19 relief plans and to demand civility in politics.

Whitmer asked the Detroit Regional Chamber to use its clout to help erase a toxic political culture that’s normalized threats of violence.“I think in this moment that it’s really important that the chamber and the members of the chamber lean in and hold people who espouse rhetoric that is dangerous accountable,” she said during the online session.

Whitmer did not mention Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey by name, but the GOP leader’s drawn rebukes for name-calling the governor as well as describing the attack by a pro-Trump mob on the U.S. Capitol as a hoax.

Whitmer also said the state’s in a race against new COVID variants, and the answer is to get vaccines distributed as soon as possible.

“Because the quicker they’re deployed, the stronger their position is in getting our arms around the virus, and putting it down, getting our kids back in school,” she said. “And helping businesses and people that have been struggling over the course of the last 12 months.”

The governor told the group that Michigan risks losing millions of dollars in federal COVID relief money for schools, businesses, and workers if the Legislature does not act to accept and allocate the funds. Republicans have pushed for a more piecemeal approach that would give the Legislature more control over that money.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.