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Growing Republican opposition to MDHHS director

Hertel was appointed by the governor to become the director of the state health department in January, but she must be approved by the GOP-led senate.
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 6:35 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - On Thursday, the director behind coronavirus restrictions is facing growing opposition from Republicans who want Elizabeth Hertel removed.

Hertel was appointed by the governor to become the director of the state health department in January, but she must be approved by the GOP-led senate.

On Thursday, the Senate Advice and Consent Committee held a second approval hearing where she faced more than two hours of intense questioning.

“Will you commit to not closing schools or shutting down sports again?,” said Sen. Aric Nesbitt, R-26th State Senate District.

“I think that if we continue to see the numbers trending in such a positive direction that we won’t need to have that conversation,”said Hertel.

“Is the governor’s office running DHHS?,” said Nesbitt.

“The governor’s office is not running DHHS,” said Hertel.

Hertel, a former state house Republican staffer, faced criticism surrounding ongoing restaurant restrictions.

“Year over year sales for restaurants in Michigan are down 57 percent which is the worst in the nation,” said Nesbitt.

The director explained what is considered with these decisions.

“We look at those other individual factors like the hospitalization capacity, the ICU capacity, how much PPP we have available,” said Hertel.

The hearing came just minutes after six Republican senators asked the Senate Advice and Consent Committee to reject Hertel’s appointment. The committee did not make a decision Thursday and said a third hearing is necessary.

“I’m looking forward to really seeing an end to these unilateral seemingly endless and ever-changing orders,” said Nesbitt.

From here, if the committee rejects Hertel, the decision would go the entire senate body which is Republican controlled.

From there, 19 of the 20 GOP senators would need to vote in favor of rejecting her. So far only seven have committed to doing so.

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