WASHINGTON D.C. — President Joe Biden invited top Senate Democrats to the White House Wednesday to continue talks on his $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan.
Among the group were Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters.
“The only way we get through this pandemic is to make sure we're dealing with a public health crisis, first and foremost, although we do need to simultaneously deal with the economic crisis as well,” Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) said.
Peters is now the Chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, which oversees FEMA. He plans on probing their response to the pandemic.
“It is clear they need to do more in order to make sure we have a national comprehensive plan,"Peters said. "We did not see that in the Trump administration and it’s something that I continually pounded the table over and yet we found in the previous administration states were pretty much left up to their own to do their thing."
“We are seeing a much more robust effort from FEMA, we need to continue to press that in this recovery act, there will be nearly $50 billion appropriated to FEMA to assist our local authorities, with the distribution of the vaccine setup sites to help cover the cost of existing sites.” Peters said.
“They have the capacity to hopefully vaccinate well in excess of a million people every single day, going forward, but that does take resources,” he added.
While Democrats move to pass Biden’s plan with or without Republican support, Peters says Americans need more help as soon as possible.
“I think when we're talking about bipartisanship, I think it's important to recognize that if you look at public opinion polls this plan is widely supported by Americans,” Peters said. “This pandemic has lasted far too long for any of us, we all want this to be over yesterday and and that's why it's imperative that we act quickly, and we act boldly.”
The COVID-19 response is the second term Senator’s number one focus right now, but he cites both cybersecurity concerns and domestic terrorism as two other issues he’s keying in on.
“[Domestic terrorism] threat continues to grow and one that we have to deal with," Peters said. "We've seen domestic terrorist activities firsthand in Michigan. We saw the, the plot to kidnap, our governor and potentially murder her through that plot, as an example of a domestic terrorist group. And we saw certainly the violent attack on the United States Capitol by terrorists, as well. This is something that must be addressed."
Peters said he will begin by opening an investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
“We intend to hold a hearing on that shortly," he added. "We're going to be working with the rules committee and other committees here in the Senate to take a look at how the Capitol Police responded to the attack, but also looking at it in the broader section in a broader fashion, understanding that this is also a reflection of domestic terrorist groups that were also engaged in that attack and understand that a lot of what fueled the attack was the very dangerous rhetoric that we heard from the President United States."