MLive: Haley Stevens says impeachment won’t distract from priorities in Congress

 In News & Updates

LIVONIA, MI — U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills, said the launching of a House impeachment inquiry into whether President Donald Trump committed impeachable acts isn’t distracting her from the work constituents elected her to do.

Stevens, a freshman Democrat who flipped a traditionally Republican district in 2018, sat down with MLive Friday after participating in an event promoting careers in manufacturing and skilled trades, one of her top legislative priorities in Congress. Stevens has come under fire from Republicans after changing her stance on impeachment in response to documents released by the White House that show Trump asked Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden.

“I think the big thing is asking for a political favor from a foreign government and from a president of another country on behalf of a political opponent,” Stevens said. “I just find that kind of unusual and unbecoming of the office … These actions certainly speak to impeachable offenses and I’m taking them very seriously.”

All seven of Michigan’s House Democrats, and independent U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, D-Cascade Township, support the opening of an impeachment inquiry. The state’s six Republican congressmen are opposed to impeachment, though some expressed support finding whether allegations facing the president are true.

The inquiry hinges on Trump’s effort to push the Ukrainian president to take actions that would benefit him politically, though Trump has asserted he was merely trying to root out corruption. Trump has accused Biden, the current front runner in the Democratic presidential primary, used his leverage while vice president to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor to benefit an energy company his son served on the board of.

Moderate House Democrats had resisted a previous effort to pursue impeachment, but Stevens was among many who cited concerns that Trump pressure a foreign head of state for his own personal political gain. Stevens said she is concerned that the Trump administration has withheld information from Congress about his conversations with Ukraine.

“I’m not someone who came to Congress for anything other than to advocate for our regional economy and make sure that taxpayer dollars that go into our federal government work for the district that I represent,” Stevens said. “I also took an oath, and I’m not going to be divided on the rule of law.”

The Michigan Republican Party quickly accused Stevens of choosing to put “political ambitions ahead of the real issues facing their constituents.”

Whittney Williams, a Republican running to oppose Stevens next year, similarly accused her of ignoring the issues she was elected to solve, while several GOP groups are using impeachment to fundraise for 2020.

Stevens does not serve on any of the House committees tasked with building the case for impeachment. She said the inquiry won’t distract from her work in Congress.

The congresswoman visited Schoolcraft College Friday for a Michigan Manufacturing Day event that connects middle school students to employers looking for skilled workers.

Stevens said her her top legislative priorities remain focused on education and workforce development, building on her experiences as chief of staff for the Auto Rescue Task Force inside the Treasury Department under former President Barack Obama. The Manufacturing Day event is one example of how Stevens wants to strengthen partnerships with the business community.

One of her first acts in Congress was to pass the bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act, which opens up funding from the National Science Foundation for STEM education research in early childhood. the legislation is awaiting introduction in the U.S. Senate.

She introduced the American Manufacturing Leadership Act, a bill to improve the Manufacturing USA program, which also passed in the House.

“The skills gap is real,” Stevens said. “We’ve certainly got to have an all hands on deck approach on how to address it, which is why I’ve spent a lot of time bringing together different organizations, associations, nonprofits, community colleges, small businesses, and other manufacturers.”

Stevens said one of her top priorities is pushing for action on the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, a replacement trade deal championed by the Trump administration. The agreement has languished in Congress as House Democrats seek to increase labor protections in the bill.

Stevens said those protections are needed to protect American jobs, but she recognizes manufacturers in her district are supportive of the USMCA.

“I’ve been playing a role in the Congress, particularly with the district that I represent, encouraging us to get to a place where we can bring this to the floor,” Stevens said. “And I’ve heard enough from my manufacturers that they really want to see us get this done. And so I’m making sure that those voices are represented in the negotiating process.”

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