Print Friendly and PDF

Michigan’s Congressional Delegation Remains Unified on Critical Matters

Crain’s Content Studio

Michigan’s congressional leaders are working as a team to protect the Great Lakes, improve the Soo Locks, and maintain the state’s high-tech defense industries.

On Thursday, May 30, Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) alongside Reps. Paul Mitchell (R-MI 10) and Jack Bergman (R-MI 1) on Thursday, May 30 at the 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference to discuss their shared priorities.

Stabenow and the rest of the delegation have spent years working to ensure Asian Carp, an invasive species, does not reach the Great Lakes by employing barriers in the Chicago River.

“Our delegation is laser-focused on protecting the Great Lakes,” Stabenow said.

That plan is to be implemented by the Army Corps of Engineers once funding is secured, as is another project with statewide impact — the Soo Locks, which in Sault Ste. Marie, located in Bergman’s district. But Bergman emphasized their cooperation didn’t begin with agreement on a few issues.

“It starts with building relationships before that issue arises,” he said. “Getting to know your colleagues, getting to know about them as human beings.”

That’s when a dialogue can begin in earnest, Bergman noted.

“We’re not a noisy delegation, we’ll get noisy in a room by ourselves at times, but when we come out, we pretty much come out on behalf of Michigan as a whole,” he said.

Those unified efforts can have an impact, Stabenow said.

“Sometimes you don’t have to be in the majority, you just have to have enough of a group — which we have — to be able to say ‘no’ if you’re going to be hurting the Great Lakes,” she said.

Key Takeaways:

  • While Michigan is the automobile capital, it has now also become the defense manufacturing capital, Mitchell said.
  • Stabenow noted how members of the Michigan delegation secured positions on defense-related committees in order to preserve jobs within Michigan, even adding 1,000 jobs as cuts were made nationally.
  • All the panelists — though they aren’t totally aligned — believe trade with Canada is a critical issue.
  • The Michigan Delegation also must work together to ensure regional partners in the Great Lakes support projects that impact Michigan and extend beyond its borders.

This session was sponsored by Ford Motor Company.

This article was written by Crain’s Content Studio for the 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference.