U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Michigan, was ceremonially sworn into office by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, at a reception in the Lansing Center on Sunday.
Michigan’s 8th Congressional District was Stabenow’s stomping ground before she was elected to the Senate.
“We all know that Elissa is passionate about Michigan, she’s passionate about our country and serving all of us and working across the aisle. It’s not just a bunch of words,” Stabenow said. “She really believes it and acts on it every single day. I’m very excited about partnering with her on the issues we care so much about.”
Slotkin was already officially sworn in on Jan. 3 in Washington D.C. The event in her district was intended to ensure constituents of her presence and attention to the area.
Slotkin said in her remarks her district headquarters would be in Lansing, with a satellite office in Rochester and a representative in Livingston County.
Being present as a representative was a large part of her message, but an even bigger part was standing up to the government shutdown. Since being inaugurated, Slotkin has donated her salary to the Alzheimer's Association to protest the shutdown.
She said she met a Customs and Border Patrol officer who couldn’t pay his bills or file for unemployment because his job was too sensitive to be allowed to work a second job.
“If Washington cannot get its act together, we do not deserve to be paid,” Slotkin said.
On Saturday, the current shutdown officially became the longest in the nation's history. Though legislators are wading into unfamiliar waters because of this, Slotkin is already familiar with lengthy shutdowns — she was with the Department of Defense in October 2013 through a two-week federal shutdown.
“It is impossible to ignore the fact that I am being sworn in while the federal government is partially shut down,” Slotkin said. "I know intimately what this shutdown is doing to people, to their lives.”
Slotkin said the path to reopen the government was bipartisanship. Democrats across state and federal government have made this a talking point since the November elections, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.
“I refuse to teach our children that we as Americans are irreparably divided,” Slotkin said.
James Green, president of James Madison College Conservatives, and Carter Oselett, president of the MSU College Democrats, were both in attendance and also spoke to the importance of cooperation.
“I think one of (the James Madison College Conservatives') largest things is promoting bipartisan civil discourse and compromise,” Green said. “I think it’s one of the things that’s drawn some of our members to support Congresswoman Slotkin. She’s willing to reach across the aisle and listen to everybody.”
During her remarks, Slotkin noted on-campus voter turnout at Michigan State for the midterm elections had increased 300 percent, and a big part of that was because of student organizing.
Oselett and Green were two of those organizers, albeit for different candidates.
“With Slotkin herself, we brought her to campus. I think she was on campus three or four times just that semester, fall 2018," Oselett said. "She sat down with some of our students personally to talk about what’s important to them. ... She had a really strong presence, which her opponent didn’t have.”
At the ceremony, Green and Oselett practiced what they preached despite their political differences. Before being interviewed, Oselett went to retrieve Green so he could be included.
“The only way that our country moves forward is if we work across the aisle to get things done,” Slotkin said.
Correction: Slotkin will have a representative located in Livingston County, not a satellite office as previously stated.