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After two years of a presidency under Donald Trump whose policies are seen as an outrage to California and the rest of the country, Democrats in the Golden state are ready to challenge the Trump Administrations policies and rhetoric.
California's legislators are gearing up to defy Trump and present what they believe is a better way than that of the now dysfunctional Washington D.C., by presenting bills that will not only rebuff Trump on his corrupt administration, but will seek to better the environment and work to pry loose his tax returns.
Newly elected Democratic legislators are joining together to go against Trump's proposals to keep immigrants from becoming legal citizens if they use any public services, and any likely federal backlash will not deter the newly elected from seeking single payer health care.
"It's not just that California policy makers are taking a different direction than the Trump administration, it's that voters have endorsed and voted to take a different direction."
California Democrats ready new assault on Donald Trump
Legislature aims to rebuff the White House on immigration, health care, the environment and even the president’s tax returns.
Triumphant California Democrats returned to the state capitol in Sacramento this week with a mandate and a mission: defying President Donald Trump, whose enduring toxicity in the state helped power historic gains in the legislature and Congress.
Two years into a presidency whose policies are anathema to California’s dominant party, Democrats are picking up where they left off: challenging the Trump administration in policy and in rhetoric as they seek to make America’s most populous state apart a counterexample to the dysfunction in DC.
“Trump has poured more gasoline on the fire,” Assemblyman Rob Bonta said at a press conference denouncing a Trump administration move targeting immigrants. “This is wrong. It is fueled by racism,” and it constitutes “an attack on California’s health and well-being.”
Newly introduced bills seek to rebuff the Trump administration on immigration and the environment while again working to pry loose his tax returns. Ambitious healthcare proposals seem guaranteed to energize state’s liberal base, offering Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom an early opportunity to advance his oft-stated goal of making the state a shining alternative to Trumpism.
Even before they had been formally sworn in to new terms, Democratic legislators were rallying against the Trump administration’s proposal to bar immigrants who use public services from obtaining legal status.My worst fears have not yet materialized, believe it or not,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said in his first address to a legislative body where Democrats now wield an ironclad three-quarters majority, “but the federal reality has been quite bad enough.”
Rendon used his table-setting speech to both set broad policy goals and to underscore that Sacramento’s animosity towards the White House has not abated, lambasting Trump for “heaping blame on California, a state that is suffering its worst fire disaster ever” and dispatching “troops to lonely border outposts to do nothing but posture” — the latter remark echoing Newsom’s stated desire to reverse a National Guard deployment.
While Newsom defined his candidacy as a response to Trump, he was more circumspect as he spoke among an ebullient swirl of newly-sworn in Democrats. He expressed gratitude that Trump had finally toured areas devastated by wildfires, but he acknowledged that more conflict likely lay ahead.
“We’re living in an environment, tweet by tweet, day by day, where issues raise themselves to the fore. That makes it challenging for us to cooperate at all levels, all of the time,” Newsom said.Of all the emerging California-versus-Trump flashpoints, one in particular will likely augment the rivalry between Trump and Newsom: a bill that would extend insurance coverage to a greater pool of California’s undocumented immigrants. With single-payer healthcare on the back burner given that it would require unlikely federal approvals, immigrant and healthcare advocates have focused their attention on achieving universal coverage by looking to unauthorized immigrants.
“That’s a dramatically different direction than where the Trump administration is seeking to go,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of the organization Health Access. He called the bill part of “California’s effort to not just protect our progress but to take steps despite the federal government.”
Given Trump’s propensity for proclaiming at campaign rallies that Newsom wanted to open the border and distribute free healthcare, the bill will offer Newsom an early test and opportunity to contrast California. Speaking to reporters before he won his race, Newsom said his belief in the policy was not deterred by the likely federal backlash. The same holds for legislators.
“The federal rhetoric we hear and the hate-mongering that seems to come out of parts of our nation’s capital aren’t reflective of the values that I know are true here in California,” said Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, a Central Valley Democrat who’s carrying the legislation. “This bill provides hope for many people in my community that all people matter – that their lives matter as well.”
That measure is just one point in a growing constellation of bills challenging or targeting Trump.
Legislators have revived pushes to require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns and to prohibit civil arrests at courthouses in an attempt to bar Immigration and Customs Enforcement from scooping up immigrants in court – a tactic that advocates say has become increasingly common and that California’s chief Supreme Court justice denounced.
Versions of both died on Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto pen last year but could have a different fate under Newsom. Another key distinction from last time: the tax returns bill will now be debated during a presidential election cycle and is designed to ensure that, should it become law, it take effect before voters go to the polls.
“There are pressing questions for voters to have answers to before an election,” said state Sen. Mike McGuire. “If President Trump had released his tax returns we would know why he’s snuggling up to Saudi Arabia,” McGuire added. “It’s time to put the speculation to bed.”
While Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins refrained from calling out Trump in her introductory speech, she swiftly threw her support behind a sweeping bill to shield environmental and worker safety standards from federal rollbacks by enshrining them at the state level.
The bill “is Trump insurance for California’s environment,” state Sen. Henry Stern said in a statement.
Yet another bill would allow qualified people to serve on appointed public boards regardless of their immigration status, looking to a standard of inclusiveness that would contrast sharply with the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
The eagerness to take on Trump follows Democrats’ resounding success in a Trump-referendum election. Wright, the healthcare advocate, noted a recurring theme as he spoke to incoming legislators during back-to-session receptions: many of them had run ads blasting Republican opponents for voting against a bill that sought to ban the types of short-term health insurance plans favored by the Trump administration.
“I was struck by not only have California legislators passed an agenda to counter what was done by the Trump administration but how much they ran on it and won,” Wright said. “It’s not just that California policymakers are taking a different direction than the Trump administration, it’s that the voters have endorsed and voted to take a different direction.”