Floor Speech

Date: March 2, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I have two important things I would like to speak about today. And let me first start with a confirmation vote we will be having this afternoon on Judge Jonathan J.C. Grey to serve as the U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Both Senator Peters and I are strong, strong supporters and thank President Biden for nominating him, and we look forward to colleagues joining us in a bipartisan vote, just as we had on the cloture vote, to make sure that he is confirmed today.

Senator Peters and I were both honored to introduce him and his family during his hearing in the Judiciary Committee in November, and I know his family is so very proud of him--as we are. Judge Grey is an outstanding choice to support the people of Michigan because he has been doing just that. Judge Grey is currently serving as a U.S. magistrate judge for the Eastern District of Michigan. As a magistrate judge, Judge Grey has presided over both civil and criminal cases.

Before that, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan and the Southern District of Ohio, where he prosecuted criminal offenses.

During the past 10 years, 95 percent of Judge Grey's practice has been in the Federal courts, whether as a magistrate judge or an assistant U.S. attorney.

He also worked as an associate at a law firm in Chicago, where he practiced labor and employment law and served as a law clerk for two Federal judges.

Given his incredible breadth of experience, it is no surprise that the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously found him to be ``well qualified'' for this position.

Judge Grey was born in Mississippi and is a proud graduate of Morehouse College and the Georgetown University Law Center. And in the spirit of those two institutions, Judge Grey is a deep believer in giving back, both in Michigan and through his alma maters.

I can think of no better place for Judge Grey to continue to serve the people of Michigan and our country than on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and both Senator Peters and I urge our colleagues to vote yes to confirm Jonathan Grey this afternoon. Remembering the Victims of the Michigan State University Mass Shooting

Mr. President, as everyone knows, I am an incredibly proud MSU Spartan. I earned both my undergraduate and my graduate degrees from Michigan State University. And I have been so proud to represent the university in the Michigan Legislature, in the U.S. House, and the U.S. Senate.

I am a Spartan, as is Senator Peters, and I am horrified and heartbroken and I am angry because we are mourning three lives that were lost on February 13 when a gunman came to campus and randomly started shooting students.

Arielle Anderson, Brian Fraser, and Alexandria Verner were each full of hopes and dreams and so much promise. Arielle, age 19, graduated from Grosse Point North High School in 2021. She was known for her confidence, her kindness, and her incredible drive. She was studying to become a surgeon.

Brian, age 20, graduated from Grosse Point South High School, where he competed on the swimming and diving teams. He was studying business and was president of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

And Alexandria--her friends called her Alex--was a 20-year-old graduate of Clawson High School, where she excelled in volleyball, softball, and basketball. She was studying integrated biology and anthropology and had hoped to graduate next year.

Arielle, Brian, and Alex had their whole lives ahead of them, and my heart aches for everyone who loved them and is missing them today.

We also know that gun violence isn't just about the lives that are ended; it is also about the lives that are forever--forever--changed. At Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Spartans are still fighting just to survive. Thousands more students and employees and community members have been left with scars you can't see, but they are there. They hurt as much and take as much time to heal as anything else.

It is crucial that we ensure that everyone receive the mental healthcare that they need at this time. Last year, my initiative to bring high-quality mental health and addiction services to communities across the country was signed into law in the gun bill that we passed and right now is helping to make a difference in meeting the needs in the East Lansing, Lansing, Mid Michigan community, and I want to thank the Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties for working so closely with Michigan State University right now to provide support for everyone who needs it.

So many different things are happening on campus and across the community. Just one example: Counselors from Community Mental Health have set up a place in the East Lansing Public Library where they are providing resources and immediate, free support from therapists, and people are coming forward to volunteer their time to help make this happen as well.

They brought in support animals to comfort those in pain. Clinics like Community Mental Health don't just provide help after a crisis though. This is about helping people every day, helping people in the first place so that there is a place to call, and there is. And people in the community, family members concerned, people in neighborhoods that are seeing something that they are concerned about need to call and ask for help.

But better mental health isn't enough. We also need to make it harder for people who harm others to get their hands on guns because it is one thing if you are somebody who is unstable and have a knife; it is another thing if you have a gun. The consequences are very different depending on what you are holding in your hand.

Firearms are now the leading cause of death for American children and teens. Think about that: not car accidents, not cancer--guns. We can change that. We must change that.

The Michigan Legislature is taking action to strengthen our State's licensing process and background checks, require safe storage, and pass a red flag law. What we did last summer was provide dollars to States to develop red flag laws, and I am so proud of our Governor and our new majorities in the statehouse and senate for taking action now. I strongly support their efforts. I am grateful as a citizen, as a mom, as a grandmother whose children are in the schools that they are taking these actions.

On a Federal level last year, I was proud to support the Safer Communities Act, which was an important step, but we need to do so much more.

We need to pass a military assault weapons ban--legislation that I am cosponsoring. And while we are at it, let's close the gun show loophole and ensure that all gun sales in America require background checks. It is just common sense.

We owe it to Arielle, Brian, and Alex, and the whole MSU community, to those who have been impacted across the country. These stories are way too common and should be absolutely unacceptable to everybody.

Thoughts and prayers are not enough. It is pretty hollow, as the Presiding Officer knows, as we all have spoken about. It is pretty hollow when we are not willing to take the actions that can save lives, and that is the way that we remember those who have been lost.

One of the most important things, the most beautiful things about Michigan State and our entire Michigan community is how we came together to support one another. It is amazing. I have been incredibly touched by the stories of how people have helped one another, both on that tragic night and the days since. From the dispatchers and the first responders who immediately and calmly responded to a chaotic and dangerous scene to the selfless staff at Sparrow Hospital giving comfort and lifesaving care every day, to East Lansing residents, and Lansing residents and everyone from across Michigan who came together and put up yard signs to greet students as they returned to campus, and, yes, to the incredible support shown by our rivals. An enormous crowd of University of Michigan students gathered in Ann Arbor on February 15 to show solidarity and support at the same time Spartans were gathered at The Rock in East Lansing.

A number of Wolverine sports teams have worn special warmups honoring Michigan State. And even Ohio State, even Ohio State, a great rival as well, hired an airplane to fly above Michigan State's campus pulling a banner that read: ``We are with you. Spartan Strong. Love, Ohio State.''

The MSU community and the community of East Lansing are so grateful, we are all so grateful for the outpouring of support. We will get through this, but we shouldn't have to. But we will get through it. We just need to take action to stop this from happening again. We are all Spartan Strong.