It's been quite a month for Rashida Tlaib; here's what's coming next

Next week, Tlaib is expected to open the first of four service centers across her district, this one in River Rouge. The idea is to give her constituents a place, not too far from their homes, where they can go to ask for help, with the idea that her staff can act as a go-between to federal services such as Social Security or protection under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

She’s already telling her staff to try to get what information they can from people who come in about their personal circumstances beyond whatever immediate problem they have — such as whether they are renters or homeowners, or any other barriers to economic opportunity they’ve faced. Since one of the committees she’ll be serving on —Financial Services — deals with banking and insurance matters, she plans to take those stories and use them to question industry officials and push legislation.

And while getting laws changed to, say, block credit rating agencies from releasing reports to insurance companies will be difficult, especially with Republicans in control in the U.S. Senate, there is every reason to believe that Tlaib can use the committee as a bully pulpit from which to demand change.

“I can guarantee you when she has these service centers up and running, people are going to feel like they are being listened to. That’s no small thing in Detroit,” said TJ Bucholz, a Democratic consultant in Lansing who is a longtime friend of Tlaib’s and worked on her campaign. As for Palestine and her language regarding Trump? “All of that’s just whipped cream. It’s not at the core of what she thinks about every day,” he said.

Already critical of tax abatements and other breaks she says tend to help developers more than the community around their projects, Tlaib said she already has the ear of the committee chair, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who reached out to her about joining the panel. “She said, ‘I want people there who are not going to fall in line with Wall Street,' ” Tlaib told the Free Press in a wide-ranging interview in her office in Washington. “And I smiled and said, ‘That’s definitely not me.’ She’s like, ‘I need your help.’ …. She’s going to be a tremendous mentor for me.”

“So many of them (financial institutions) have benefited from the public … bailouts, maybe various tax breaks, abatements, things that we’ve done to pave the way to allow these financial institutions to thrive. In exchange what we’ve seen is more poverty. … In my district, less than half the families own their own home.”That's not quite true — census figures put the rate of homeownership in Michigan's 13th Congressional District at 54 percent — but that's still the worst in Michigan and well below what it is in most districts across the U.S.

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