Senate Democrats Come Out Swinging Against Trump

Senate Democrats Come Out Swinging Against Trump

The Democrats have said they are willing to work with Trump on areas of common ground. But Minority Leader Harry Reid used floor remarks Tuesday to assail the billionaire developer for sparking a wave of hate crimes.

PHOTO: In this Nov. 3, 2016, photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., campaigns for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the University of Cincinnati. President Barack Obama hands over the White House to Republican Donald Trump in 71 days, leaving the Democratic Party leaderless and with few up-and-coming stars among its aging cast of stalwarts. The defeat of Clinton, an experienced Washington politician who sought common ground with Republicans, could make it more likely that the party will turn to its liberal wing as it grapples with its future. That™ is best represented by Sanders, whom Clinton defeated in a long primary, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a pull-no-punches progressive darling. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

WASHINGTON (AP ) — Senate Democrats embraced their role as the loyal opposition to Donald Trump, with several using the chamber’s first post-election session to criticize the president-elect for fomenting divisions in U.S. society.

The Democrats have said they are willing to work with Trump on areas of common ground. But Minority Leader Harry Reid used floor remarks Tuesday to assail the billionaire developer for sparking a wave of hate crimes.

“We have responsibility to be a voice of millions of Americans sitting at home, afraid that they’re not welcome anymore in Donald Trump’s America,” said Reid, who is due to retire before Trump is sworn in.

Reid took to the floor to criticize Trump in the run-up to the election.

Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Reid’s rhetoric was not appropriate on the Senate floor, and expressed hope the discussion would return to policy.

“This is the United States Senate for heaven’s sake,” Cornyn said.

Reid also called on Trump to step forward and take responsibility for statements he made on the campaign trail that are now stoking fear in groups of Americans.

“Rather than healing these wounds, Trump’s actions have deepened them,” Reid said.

Reid decried Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon as Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor, a position that does not require Senate confirmation. Bannon ran the conservative site Breitbart News, and Democrats have criticized Bannon as someone who has supported white nationalist, anti-feminist and anti-Semitic views. Reid himself labeled Bannon a “white supremacist.”

“The first thing (Trump) should do is rescind his appointment of Steve Bannon,” Reid said. “Rescind it. Don’t do it.”

Earlier Thursday, four Democratic senators and one newly elected senator stood next to a poster with “Fire Bannon” in large white letters, urging the president-elect to dismiss his new aide.

“We call on him to change course,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, R-Ore. Merkley led Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Mazie Hirono of Hawai, and Sen.-elect Chris Van Hollen of Maryland in condemning Bannon.

Van Hollen said Democrats are willing to work with the Trump administration on economic issues, particularly modernizing infrastructure. But he said if Trump attempts to “roll back the clock” on social justice issues, “We will fight them to the very end.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., also joined on a call with reporters to criticize Trump for hiring lobbyists in his transition team after Trump pledged to “drain the swamp” and limit the influence of special interests.

While Congress does not have influence over the hirings, Sanders said he and Whitehouse want to ensure the American people are aware when Trump is reneging on some of is campaign promises.

Sanders vowed that “in area after area after area” he will be reminding people of what Trump said on the campaign trail.

“We are going to do everything possible to hold him accountable,” Sanders said.

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