Whitmer says she won’t give up COVID-19 powers despite spending bills

Lansing — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer labeled the Legislature’s plan for handling billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 relief “nonsensical” and repeated Monday her pledge that she won’t hand over unilateral powers to respond to the pandemic.

Appearing on MSNBC, the Democratic governor contended that Republican state lawmakers are holding back a portion of the federal funding and trying to use the money to get her to relinquish her administration’s authority.

“They know that’s never going to happen,” Whitmer told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle, indicating she will block provisions of a GOP-backed spending proposal.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tours the security perimeter of the U.S. Capitol complex with members of the Michigan National Guard on Friday, March 5, 2021.

“For our Legislature to play this dangerous game with resources we desperately need is really disappointing,” the governor added.

The GOP-controlled Legislature is in the process of sending Whitmer a $4.2 billion supplemental spending plan that ties nearly $1.2 billion in federal funding to measures that would limit the pandemic powers of her administration.

About $840 million of school district funding is tied to a separate bill that would move responsibility over school closures and high school sports from the state health department to local health departments. However, the policy would require local health officials to comply with testing, case and hospitalization benchmarks when making the decisions.