Senator Gary Peters accompanied by his wife Colleen, met with Grand Traverse Democrats at the Michigan Grille, on Tuesday afternoon. After an introduction by Lee Hornberger, Senator Peters commented briefly that Michigan will be the focus of intense political activity in 2018, and 2020, since Trump won the state, although narrowly. He said Senator Stabenow will be especially hard hit, and that she needs our support. Also, he said he is seeing unprecedented energy from Democrats and to keep up the work we are doing. It is making a difference. The Senator then threw discussion open to those assembled.
He responded a request for advice on how to deal with the Trump administration asking states for detailed voting information by saying we should contact the Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson, and let her know how we feel. It was suggested by another member that we can call friends who live in other states to put pressure on their Republican Congress people regarding health care and other issues. The Senator indicated that he supports the public option and Medicare for All, but we aren’t there yet.
Members of the group argued that it is time for Democrats to start offering solutions, to get off the defensive and play offense by supporting universal healthcare, public education, and the EPA especially the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The Senator agreed, and added that he is working on small businesses being able to offer their employees’ healthcare, which the ACA did, but it didn’t work. He said Democrats are pushing back aggressively with bipartisan support for the EPA. He introduced the Pipes Act which designated the entire Great Lakes region as a ‘high consequence’ region where all underwater pipelines receive heavy scrutiny. It passed with near unanimous support.
The Senator was asked if ‘filibuster by amendment’ was an effective strategy that Democrats can employ to stop or slow down the Republican repeal of the ACA. He said they plan to employ this strategy if the bill comes up for a vote, but that Mitch McConnell can put a stop to the process any time he wants. We must not underestimate McConnell’s capacity for twisting arms. That we need to keep up the pressure on Bergman although he is unresponsive.
On the issue of Nabisco sending their plants to Mexico to make Orio cookies, he says we need to put pressure on American companies to stay in the US. He has introduced the Accountability Act which would force employers to reveal where it is that their employees are actually working.
Ask why Democrats are not backing the Stop Funding Terrorism Act introduced by Hawaiian Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Senator Peters said he was unaware of that bill but would consider it. It was posited that the US is spending billions to fight undeclared wars when those funds could be used to build infrastructure, ensure universal healthcare, and public schools here in the US. That mainstream media parrots the official position that Assad used chemical weapons against his own people without releasing specifics that would support it. The Senator had no comment.
When the Senator was asked what could be done to fight the anti-science position of the Trump administration and Republicans in general, he said he supports the American Innovation Act which has been reintroduced as S. 641, and has taken on Sen. Ted Cruz who wants to defund NASA’s Earth Science Division which is a coordinated series of satellite and airborne missions for long-term global observations of the land surface, biosphere, solid earth, atmosphere, and oceans.
Finally, when asked if Republicans are as fed up with Trump’s irresponsible tweeting as we are, the Senator responded that yes, they are, but are not speaking out publicly—yet. At some point, he hopes this will change, but so far they seem willing to prop him up so that he can sign off on their agenda. The Senator was urged to urge Democrats to fire up their rhetoric, and move more aggressively to offset the Republican message.