First elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000, Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow has represented Michigan on Capitol Hill for nearly two decades. Despite her extensive experience, Stabenow has recently encountered a new challenge to her job: working with the Trump administration. In an interview with Bustle, Stabenow reveals what working with the Trump team is really like.
"In the age of Trump, first of all, there's great inconsistency," Stabenow says. "This is someone who promised in his campaign he would not cut Medicaid healthcare and then he's promoting a plan that guts Medicaid healthcare ... This is somebody who said he'd fight for fair trade, and a lot of what he talked about in Michigan for the campaign could [have] come right out of my speeches for years ... and yet now he won't get tough on China."
Trade isn't the only issue relevant to Michigan that Stabenow sees as challenging during the Trump era. Stabenow was raised about 100 miles from Flint, Michigan, and she has fought the Senate's Republican leadership for funding to solve the ongoing Flint water crisis. Now, she calls her conversations with Trump administration officials about preserving the region's fresh water "mind-boggling."
"I've debated [Trump's] director of management and budget, who said it's a local issue," she explains. "There's an international commission to protect the Great Lakes, which are 20 percent of the world's fresh water. This is not a local issue. So I've actually had to debate him on that point, which was mind-boggling to me."
In May, President Trump's budget proposal eliminated $300 million in funding for cleanup efforts at the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes form the world's largest freshwater system, and more than 30 million people live in the Great Lakes basin, according to the EPA.
"I want to work with him to rebuild America," Stabenow says. "His budget cuts, in some cases, wipe out those things that would protect and strengthen our infrastructure."
From the Great Lakes to health care, Stabenow sees Trump's inconsistency as a clear hindrance to her job. "You need to have some consistency about what the other person thinks so you can negotiate," she says. "The reason things aren't getting done here in part is there's no consistency. Everything is in a chaotic state all the time."
Stabenow's comments came just as her Republican counterparts failed to pass their long-awaited healthcare reform bill. Senate Republicans lacked the unity they needed to secure a majority of votes.
With health care reform still in limbo, that chaotic state Stabenow described may be here to stay.