Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will push for additional federal funding to help states deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic during a U.S. House subcommittee hearing Tuesday, according to her prepared remarks.
But she’ll also continue to levy criticism against President Donald Trump’s response to the virus that’s been linked to 5,516 deaths in Michigan as of Monday. According to her prepared testimony, Whitmer will call testing “the foundation of COVID-19 crisis response,” but will label federal efforts on that front “uneven.”
“Uncertainty about the availability of supplies and the federal government’s role in directing the allocation of these supplies has hindered our ability to coordinate our testing strategy,” Whitmer will say, according to her prepared remarks.
Whitmer’s testimony will be part of an 11:30 a.m. hearing of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Also appearing will be Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat.
Whitmer plans to tell U.S. House members the state is facing a $6.2 billion budget loss over this year and next. Without more funding from the federal government and more flexibility in using existing assistance, “state and local governments will be unable to maintain existing critical support for education, public safety, and health care,” Whitmer will say.
“I appreciate the federal assistance provided to states to date, but more is needed to support our response to this crisis,” her prepared testimony says. “States are facing budget shortfalls that will require us to make impossible choices that will harm communities from border to border. A broader solution is needed, and Congress must come together to provide it.”
Republicans at the federal level haven’t been eager to start talking about a new stimulus package after passing a $2.2 trillion package in late March.
The Democratic governor also plans to say Tuesday that “confusion spread” early in the fight against COVID-19 when the Trump administration created the White House Coronavirus Task Force and that the lack of coordination on personal protective equipment exacerbated supply shortages.
“Like with testing supplies, PPE shipments from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) have been irregular and unpredictable, and inaccurate information about what to expect has made planning difficult,” Whitmer’s prepared remarks say.
Whitmer, who is being considered as a potential running mate for former Vice President Joe Biden, and Trump, who’s up for re-election this year, have frequently clashed in the last weeks.
At one point, Trump called on state officials to “liberate” Michigan from restrictions aimed at combating COVID-19 and tweeted in March that Whitmer was “way in over her ahead.”
Staff Writer Melissa Nann Burke contributed.
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