U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens discussed the federal response to the COVID-19 crisis and the resources available for businesses. Rep. Stevens engaged in a one-on-one discussion with Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.
U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens discussed the federal response to the COVID-19 crisis and the resources available for businesses. Rep. Stevens engaged in a one-on-one discussion with Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.
Good afternoon everyone. This is Sandy Baruah from the Detroit regional chamber. Thank you once again for joining us for our series of tele town halls. Today we're very pleased to have with us a special guest, US Representative, Haley Stevens, a Democrat who represents the 11th district of Michigan. Earlier today we were pleased to hear from Michigan's Lieutenant governor Garlin Gillcrest regarding the state response to this covid-19 crisis this afternoon you'll be hearing from representative Stevens will be able to get an update on what the federal government has been doing on our behalf, I encourage you to ask questions as you open up the , uh, the webinar app. There will be a , uh, a questions box. You can go ahead and type in your question for the Congresswoman. Brad Williams, my colleague, the vice president of government affairs for the Detroit regional chamber. Will be monitoring your questions and in a little while he will take over the questioning and ask the questions on behalf of the audience. Later on this week, we have two state officials joining us, Josh hunt from the MEDC and Jeff Donofrio who is the governor's director for the department of labor and economic opportunity. And now to our guests . We are so very pleased to have representative Haley Stevens with us today. Representative Stevens is a native Michigander. She served as the chief of staff for the Obama administration's automotive task force and we owe her a lot because it was because of the efforts of that task force and the Obama administration that set up our Michigan automotive companies to do so well. And they have been doing truly very well over the last decade. And obviously having been through that last credit crisis, representative Haley Stevens is no stranger to crisis. So Representative Stevens , thank you so much for joining us today.US Representative Haley Stevens:
Well, thank you so much Sandy and to your membership , uh, for affording this opportunity through your great leadership and the strength and might of the Detroit regional chamber. It's a real privilege to be with all of you and I'm a huge fan of the chamber and the work that you all provide to your, your membership, the service you provide to your members and as well as the overall impact that you have in the Detroit area. Uh, it's just great to be on with you and thank you so much.Sandy Baruah:
Well, you're very kind. Thank you so much. So as I referred to, you were a key part of the automotive rescue package , uh , about a decade ago you went through that crisis. Uh, can you compare and contrast a little bit about what we're going through now versus what we went through , uh, back in 2008, 2009?US Representative Haley Stevens:
Well sure, you know, there certainly are similarities and parallels to draw from the 2008, 2010 period to today. Uh, and there's a lot of differences. Um, uh, the differences are that we have , uh, an economy that's sort of hibernating, that sheltering. We have stalled productivity. We have very low consumer demand because individuals are staying home and staying safe. And this isn't just in Michigan, but this is all around um , the country. And so this is , uh , one flatlining our GDP and potentially , um, uh, going to lower our GDP and it's also , um, you know, leading to job loss and we've seen just in the last week , um, very unfortunately , um, an exorbitant amount of unemployment claims being filed like 170,000 plus unemployment claims being filed, which is double the amount of unemployment , uh , weekly unemployment claim filings from the great recession. So you're seeing a big spike here. Now, are all those people who are filing for unemployment, are they going to be employed in perpetuity? Now it's just, again, because we have low demand and low production, as a result, we have a flattening. Um , economy , um , also as it pertains to large and critical industries like the auto industry. In 2008, the auto industry saw credit line shore up. In particular, GM and Chrysler were faced and kind of in the middle of what was called the financial crisis because wall street was quaking, right? We saw the fall of Lehman brothers. We saw a lot of insecurity with our big banks and our big lenders. And as a result, there were ricochets to the insurance industry, to housing and to our industrial base. And GM and Chrysler were staring bankruptcy in the face and um, they needed direct cash infusion . They needed what some call, a bailout , I like to call it a rescue. It was all paid for or it was all paid back and the taxpayers ended up making money, but it was, you know, an $80 billion line to keep these companies afloat as they restructured and saw themselves back to solvency and what we saw from the years that , um , that that cash infusion was made. Um, and it was really done in a bipartisan way. I mean, a lot of people don't remember this, but it was sort of the Bush administration and the Obama administration through their transition working together. A lot of my, my colleagues on the auto rescue or the, or are , it really didn't matter. We were just working on it. But in the 10 years following from that , uh, rescue period , um, GM had left the stock market. They, re-entered the stock market so they had an IPO. Uh , again that was a fun one to work on. I got to be a part of the GMs I the what we call new co IPO. Um, and really though, what we've seen is the companies rebound and the industry rebound in an unbelievable way. And it's not just the big three, right? It's all the suppliers. I mean, the suppliers, in my opinion, some of the real heroes, they do such incredible innovation, creativity , incredible engineers. They're not necessarily household names, but you know, I'm talking about continental for SIA , Zed F , um, you know, a lot, you know, MEMA our motor equipment manufacturers association that's located here in Southeastern Michigan and they represent a lot of them. And then there's even smaller ones. Even some of the smaller mom and pop shops , um, tool and dye companies, clips and clamps, which is located in Plymouth. And this, this industry has really, really made some significant and just unbelievable strides. You can measure this Sandy by car sales. In 2008, we saw the largest drop in automotive sales in the history of the automobile globally in the term that the auto makers use is SAR for seasonal annual adjusted rate. Um, the, the, so the SAR was , uh , you know, 9 million, 8 million, 9 million cars being sold globally. Um , in 2018 we were at about 17 million cars being sold globally, which was really quite amazing. Right? And there was just unprecedented innovation. A lot of it happening right here in Michigan. Right? So two to one patents on autonomous vehicles, electric vehicle technology , um, you know, people knocking on our door from all, all over the world, frankly, to take part in what was happening here with our auto industry. Then comes along covid pandemic. What happens? Well , the challenges about having to be six feet apart to have very sanitized spaces. Obviously this is a disease that spreads very quickly. It's very contagious. And in some cases it can even be fatal. Um, we in the house have obviously taken the immediate step , um, in partnership with the Senate and the white house to pass legislation to fund , um, uh, research efforts for a vaccine or for , um , actual treatment, which would , would help. Uh, and, and so because the big three made the decision alongside the UAW to stop production , um, that has said some pretty quick ricochet , uh, throughout the industry , um, almost overnight. Right? So we've seen supplier companies , um , purchase orders dropped to zero. That's not all, but a lot of them, some of our quality and testing ones are still kind of going strong and doing their testing. But a lot of our suppliers have been hit really, really hard. And so unlike in 2008 or nine, what we needed to do here is just securities assets. And, you know, you kind of maybe saw me, like give a little criticism to Nikki Haley. Someone who I admire and appreciate, but you know, she was on the board of Boeing and she said, I'm not going to serve on the board of Boeing because they are asking for a bailout and I can't stand for that. Well, Boeing along with our automakers , they weren't seeking bailout dollars, right? They weren't seeking direct cash infusion. What they were seeking is federal securitization right from the federal reserve. So asset backing, and we're doing that in part because we know, and this is so important to us in Michigan, but it's so important to our country, but you don't really have like a first world humming, vibrant , country. That's the leader of the free world if you don't make cars and if you don't have an aerospace industry. And so not that we needed to go and rush and give everyone big checks, but using some of the powers of the federal reserve to secure these assets will save thousands and thousands of jobs, countless jobs, thousands of small businesses and suppliers, and really serve as a great example for how a capitalist, a free world economy can survive something like an unprecedented global pandemic,Sandy Baruah:
Congresswoman, one of the big differences, I think between the 2008, 2009 crisis and the one that we're in now is frankly the , the speed and the scope of the federal response. The initial tarp package , uh, that I worked on in 2008 was $800 billion. Uh, and as you know, it failed the first time it went , uh, went to Congress. This one is a $2 trillion plus package and it really got done in , in the matter of just a little over a week. Can you talk a little bit about the provisions of the , uh, the cares act especially as it pertains to our manufacturing , uh, businesses here in Michigan?US Representative Haley Stevens:
Yeah. And thank you for that opportunity to do so. And for the reflection around , um, the , uh, kind of patriotic commitment that the House, Senate, and the White House has to one another to work together , um, in a time of unprecedented need and all this . Sometimes you see that the headlines blaring through the news, it's like, wait a minute, all they're doing is fighting with each other and it's like, well we're an elected body of, you know, over 500 individuals between the house and the Senate. And actually I feel like this one was done pretty well. I mean there was, you know, some people wanted some stuff, they didn't get everything they wanted on both sides of the aisle, but by and large, like you said, Sandy, we passed this, we got it done. The President signed it into law on, on Friday and that was really quite remarkable. But to explain some of the provisions that are going to help some of our small businesses, our manufacturers, there's two things I want to share. One is I am the subcommittee chair for research and technology on the house science committee. And in that capacity, I oversee the small business administration. Excuse me, not the small business administration. I oversee the small business administration's SVIR program, but that's not entirely relevant here. I oversee the national Institute of standards and technologies , um, uh, as a whole, as an agency. So we authorize an appropriate NIST. NIST , um, administers a , um, uh , a program called the manufacturing extension partnership program that funds MEP centers not unfold, but gives some seed funding for MEP centers throughout the country. We have one here in Michigan. It's called the Michigan manufacturing technology center is run by Mike coast. Um , it's located in my district , uh, and I spent a career working with, with the Michigan manufacturing technology center. And MEP is all across the country. And so one of the first things that , um , I worked on in my capacity was to make sure that the MEP program got additional monies to do the work that they are already naturally doing in their communities, which is technical assistance, workforce training, cybersecurity , work arounds for companies services that they can access. So people should definitely, if you're listening in and if you're a small manufacturer, you should absolutely get in touch with the Michigan manufacturing technology center. It's sometimes referred to as the center. It's run by Mike Coast. I have information about this on my website, which is stevens.house.gov . Um , also additionally and more broadly for our small businesses , um, as you might know, the cares act dramatically expanded unemployment benefits , um, in the wake of seeing these exorbitant unemployment claims. And , um, it expands funding to the state of Michigan so that unemployed individuals can have full wage replacement by receiving an extra $600 per week for up to four months. And it provides an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits. Um, the CARES package also expands the small business loan program within an additional $350 billion and this is nationally in forgivable loans to help small businesses pay their employees their mortgages and their utility bills. And this is, this is an aid package that's going to provide a lot of much needed assistance not only to employers but to the American worker. And um, it's obviously, you know, it's, it , this is something that Michigan has already lined up for with our small business disaster relief declaration that the governor made a couple of weeks ago. There was already $8 billion sitting in disaster relief loan program , um , dollars and, and so my website also a small business resource guide that people can draw down on. I, since the bill was passed on Friday, had been adding in the extra things that have been pushed up here for, for businesses and Sandy overall, and you know, this based on your career in your stewardship and your current role, which is that we do not want to see any business fail here, particularly our incredible businesses who have all been doing so well. I mean, just really, Oh my gosh. The success stories of, of , uh , of our current time and, and just because this global pandemic came through doesn't mean you deserve to fail or to shutter. And it's also common sense, right? I mean, we've got to have restaurants in our downtowns. I represent downtown Birmingham or downtown Milford or downtown Plymouth . You know, we've got to see those restaurants, see, see this through the other side. We've got to make sure we have beauty parlors and nail salons, right? And that we're not starting over from scratch. when this crisis subsides and why it's, you know, look, it's the pandemic and we've got up socially distance and things like that. We've gotta have the right health guidelines. We've got to have the right information before us. That's fueled by science. I know the White House is women been prioritizing that. You see that with every , um, uh , press conference that they have where Dr. Fauci and a couple of the other doctors are, are right up there as well. And certainly I'm always pushing for that, right? And pushing for that in my role. So, well , that's where we are right now and we're obviously continuing to manage and guide our way through this process.Sandy Baruah:
Great. I'm just gonna ask you one last, a quick question before we turn it over to Brad to ask you questions from our audience. Uh, you , uh, made some news the other day , uh, with a passionate speech on the house floor , uh, in defense of , uh , our healthcare workers on the front line . Uh, do you want to talk a little bit about , uh, what led you to do that and , uh, and just a little bit of the backstory there?US Representative Haley Stevens:
Well, sure. Um, I definitely was , um, you know , uh, operating on the house floor for the first time in these , uh, kind of this coven setting as with all my colleagues. And so I did go over my time a little bit. I don't think I intended to do that. Um, but , uh, you know, I was really honored to be given the time and, and , uh , the recognition on behalf of , the freshman class as well as mostly on behalf of and assuredly on behalf of the 11th district, which I'm so, so proud to represent. And, you know, look, I think it's , it's really important to note here. Yesterday was , um, national doctors appreciation day. Uh , you know, obviously we appreciate our doctors and our nurses and those on the front lines , um, including our grocery store workers. I have a friend who , um, has been employed, I won't name the grocer . Um , it's not a Michigan based grocer though. Um, but I , I have a friend who's been employed by a grocer for 14 years and he loves that grocer. But he was so scared going into work and was in a position where he was able to say, I can't work here anymore. And so, you know, it, it's not to say that our brochures are doing a bad job, it's just to say that some of this with the health guidelines, it feels a little uncertain and it feels a little shaky. And you know, Benet Brown will say, well this is sort of a moment of vulnerability and we recognize that, that certain aspects of our society feel a little vulnerable, but that we are in this together. It's not a platitude. And we've got incredible foundations in our society and our government that are committed to seeing us through. And each individual in this, I think Sandy was one of the messages that was in my speech and that I was trying to convey, which is that 'Hey, I'm , you know, we don't need to be afraid and we've looked fear in the face before and we can also look up and see the beauty, you know, all around us, the, you know, neighbors coming out and ringing bells every Sunday at six o'clock'. That's something that's happening in Troy that Ethan Baker, the mayor of Troy has helped to spearhead. Um , you can see the power in your community with your neighbors and you can look around and see the power in yourself. And so, yeah , those are, I think, important words to share. And it's also certainly as it always has been very important. Our governor and our Lieutenant governor are showing us every day, you know, it's consistent, proven leadership that , um, you know, is going to guide our society through this in a measured and reasonable way.Sandy Baruah:
All right , let's turn it over to Brad Williams, vice president of government affairs for the Detroit regional chamber for audience questions.Brad Williams:
Congresswoman wanted thank you so much for your service. Uh , first of all, I know this is an especially challenging time to be a public servant, but we have questions , uh, from our listeners. The first question is, is a really specific question, so I'm going to ask it , uh , exactly as it's written. You know, the, the questioner is , uh , thanking you first of all for your advocacy on behalf of the auto industry and work your work on Covid-19, but it says at the same time , uh, the industry is dealing with Covid-19. The administration is pushing to implement USMCA by June one. Our resources are stretched thin. The administration has not provided the required regulations in both Mexico and Canada are nowhere near ready to implement. What is Congress doing to push back on the June one date in favor of a more reasonable date where there is adequate time for industry to prepare?US Representative Haley Stevens:
Yeah. Oh God bless that individual who asked that question. So before we pass the CARES act , um, the week before we passed it, I sent a letter to the head of the us trade representative that the head of this trade policy , um, uh, for the white house, Bob Lighthizer asking him to push back this deadline saying, Oh my goodness, June 1st at this point is just, it's just not reasonable here. I mean, and we know it. I mean, you don't just have to listen to one person chiming in, I mean, Holy smokes, we're in this, you know, it was already kind of a little unreasonable before covid. Now it feels wholly unreasonable. So , um, the reason why I said God bless the individual who asked that question is because that is a great reminder for the Congresswoman to follow up with Mr. Lighthizer who's our US trade rep and ask him if he has he did my recommendation or, or take it into consideration and to, also engage my colleagues in Congress, particularly in the Michigan delegation and throughout the entire house. Um , to see if they would join me in signing onto a second letter asking the trade ambassador to , um, to push back the deadline for the success and the health of our entire industry. And what's ironic about that, right? Is that, well, when I first got to the position, right when I got sworn in January 3rd, you know, we started working on trade right away. It was like, Oh my gosh, we had negotiated this trade deal pretty much in the, you know, it was done in the 115th Congress. Now it's up to Congress to take it and pass it, right? We got to ratify this trade agreement. And so I spent the whole year working on this, you know, I mean really, I was really involved in , you know, really trying to push for our region and in a, in, in the best and most successful ways I knew how and I was really proud of that. And then, you know, it got done towards the end of the year. You know, I was originally hoping you could have gotten done earlier, but it got done before the end of the year. So now we have it done, but the terms have been, you know, a little tough particularly, you know, for all the people trying to do the work arounds . And you know, I've talked to companies who have even run simulations for , um, the new USMCA and we're trying to get prepared, but we'll keep pushing here and I'll, what I'll do is I'll write a second letter and I will ask colleagues to join me in signing on. I can't guarantee all my colleagues are going to sign on to my letter, but I'll, I'll work to get a pretty big number. And give it over to Bob Lighthizer. And by the way, we'll do it bipartisan too, so we'll have it as Dem and Republicans.Brad Williams:
Thank you . There is a question in here regarding what we may see as a next stimulus bill. There's already been conversation that there's going to be a next round of stimulus, phase four I guess it would be , have you started to think about what might be included in a phase four stimulus? The question specifically here asks about college students that were filed as dependents last year and I guess I hadn't even thought about it in that context. I guess there's lots of , you know, when a bill moves as fast as the CARES act did, there's certainly going to be things that maybe you miss on the way through. So I have you started to think about that. I know it's only been a few days, so there's a lot to digest, but have you and your colleagues started to think about that?US Representative Haley Stevens:
Well, it's one of the reasons I'm actually doing this phone call from Washington D C today. Partly, after we passed the CARES act, I thought, wow, you know, there's going to be a lot to package and disseminate and get out to the district and the region from this first package and there's obviously going to be some more work to do. So one of the things that I am asking people to do, regardless, but this certainly helps with the package four is go onto my website. Again, it's stevens.house.gov and I have a dropdown section for covid-19 and I have a form for impact stories. How is covid-19 impacting you? And that's been very, very useful in terms of identifying some of the places where we could continue to do some work. Um, the students , our college students and their filing status has already caught my attention , um, as has the fiscal solvency of our small midsize cities. This first package, you know , it helped the counties. It helps States and it helps bigger cities, but it really didn't do the solvency securitization for midsize cities. And Mayor Brian Barnett is a good friend of mine. He's also president of the U S conference of mayors. He's the mayor of Rochester Hills. And so we have been working on this and I've also been working on this with colleagues in , in the Congress, again, on both sides of the aisle who's just sort of recognize , geez , you know, if you're a city under 500,000, you know, we've got to make sure that you don't run insolvent because your tax base isn't coming in the way that it used to with all the consumer activity and just some of the changes. And so that's something I know we're, we're also gonna probably work to put into a package for , um , and , and on and on. I mean, you know, look, there's, there's going to also be just some, you know , I'm sort of talked to some of the mortgage lenders and property managers and things like that. Um, one of the, actually one of the first calls I made and when this crisis hit , um, was to the insurance companies, cause I thought well, is , you know , there's their continuity of operations, insurance or funding and you know, there's really, there really hasn't been pandemic insurance. Right. And so it's not that our insurance companies are on the hook, but they might end up playing a role or you know , we can bring them to the table and things along those lines. And then, you know, just other ways in which we can support our K through 12 schools as well. Um, you know, our students , in addition to our grocery store workers, our city workers, you know, the people who pick up your trash and keep the lights on and things like that and our nurses and doctors, but our students, you know, particularly our, you know, our , our K through 12 students who are out of school right now. And , um, you know, I , I haven't, I've seen some sort of speculation about the end of the school year. And so I think we're waiting on, you know, a final determination about the end of the school year, but , um, you know, from, from the governor. But I, I will say that, you know, our students are also our heroes right now and , uh, this is a kind of a once in a century occurrence. It's certainly impacting them, but you know, we're, we're going to uphold them and , um, continue to work in all the incredible ways that we have as a society to make sure that they're also not left behind either.Brad Williams:
All right, well I would love to keep asking questions, but I know we're up against our half hour time limit. So , uh, know, that , uh, we as a team are trying to get to all the questions , uh , individually that we haven't been able to ask , uh, in these , uh , tele town halls andUS Representative Haley Stevens:
yeah, I can help you. I read, I can help you with those questions, you know, particularly if they were directed towards me as a Congresswoman . And I'm also happy to commit to doing this engagement with you and the chamber membership once a week. Um, should you like, I would be happy to do that. Um , I'm just here to work alongside you and serve in the best ways that I know how.Brad Williams:
That's fantastic. Thank you. Uh, with that, Sandy, I'll hand it back to you.Sandy Baruah:
Well , Congresswoman , just thank you. Uh, we have exceeded our 30 minutes, so we could have gone longer, but I know how busy you are in Washington working on behalf of , of the district. So I'm going to let you and your staff , uh, get on with your day, but with our sincere thank you and , uh , we will take you up on your offer to do this again , uh, with the chamber membership. So with that , uh, for those of you who tuned in, thank you so much for joining us for, this tele town hall with representative Haley Stevens and Congresswoman Stephens . Thank you so much. We'll talk to you soon. Take care.