MLive: Haley Stevens looks to highlight Southeast Michigan’s economic promise in Congress

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Ten years ago, U.S. Rep.-elect Haley Stevens was helping guide the Obama administration through the process of bailing out the auto industry as the nation dealt with economic crisis.

Now, she’s preparing to head back to Washington as a lawmaker, and Stevens – set to be the first millennial to represent Michigan in Congress – believes a new narrative is taking hold in the nation’s manufacturing sector, one where the 11th Congressional District can play a central role.

“It’s a neat thing to be able to come back to Washington in a different moment,” she said. “My campaign was by and large about manufacturing, the economy and the workforce – I am continuing to bring that energy and excitement into what’s happening in Southeast Michigan.

“There’s a new story to tell in Michigan,” she added.

Stevens is one of four new members of Congress from Michigan, joining fellow Democratic Reps.-elect Rashida Tlaib, Andy Levin and Elissa Slotkin in one of the largest and most diverse freshmen classes in U.S. House history. Democrats took the U.S. House majority in November, and the makeup of Michigan’s Congressional delegation shifted significantly as well – Stevens’ win against Republican Lena Epstein in the 11th and Slotkin’s victory over incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Bishop flipped two Republican-held Congressional seats, bringing the delegation to a 7-7 party split.

Stevens has already met with incumbent U.S. Rep. Dave Trott, R-Birmingham, to discuss the transition, and said the meeting was productive. Trott had opted not to run for reelection to a third term.

“He’s certainly provided an open line, which I appreciate,” she said. “We sat down as public servants – the campaign is over, it’s about serving the district and the region.”

Prior to running for office, Stevens worked for the U.S. Treasury Department’s Auto Task Force during the midst of the auto company bailouts and has since led national workforce development and online training programs. She hopes to serve on the House Education and Labor Committee to put her background in manufacturing to use, expressing interest in researching and developing policy around electric and autonomous vehicles, cybersecurity and higher education costs.

Stevens said updated policies on these topics would have direct impact on Southeast Michigan, where manufacturers are already making significant advancements in new technologies and where there’s a growing talent pool of researchers, engineers and other experts.

“We need to bring our policies back to people,” Stevens said. “We reclaimed this idea of the people’s house with a new Congress…the responsibility is on us to address these issues, and that’s what we’re going to go do.”

Other priorities for Stevens include working to lower the costs of prescription drugs, stopping the “dysfunction and the pendulum swinging” in U.S. health care policy and addressing gun violence. She intends to join the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and said policy changes such as universal background checks and banning bump stocks are long overdue.

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