Nevada LegislatureSCOTUSSocial Justice

Nevadans React to Trump’s #JointSession Speech

Last night, President Donald Trump addressed his first joint session of Congress. He tried to explain his series of controversial executive actions. Trump also spoke about his budget proposal that calls for a massive hike in military spending and massive cuts in other public infrastructure.

Check The New York Times’ and The Washington Post’s transcripts of Donald Trump’s #JointSession speech.

On Monday, details leaked of Trump’s desire to raise the military budget by 10% while slashing other agencies’ budgets. Last night, Trump didn’t really try to make his dollars and cents make any sense. In failing to do so, he probably didn’t allay any fears in the Nevada Legislature and among other state leaders that Trump’s policies could ultimately wreak havoc on their budgets.

“To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital — creating millions of new jobs.” – President Trump

In announcing disabled U.S. Army veteran Fred Wagar as her official guest, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) called upon Trump to give veterans more than just “lip service.” “One way the President can show that he is serious about caring for our men and women in uniform is by scaling back the hiring freeze that has left our already understaffed Veterans Administration unable to fill positions and our military families without the child care they need.” Trump touted the hiring freeze during his speech.

Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas) went even harder on Trump in announcing Dr. Zia Khan as his official guest. “It is time for President Trump to come face to face with the realities of his anti-immigrant and anti-American policies, and understand that his rhetoric has a real impact on communities across the country.” Dr. Zia Khan is a cardiologist and Muslim-American who has been helping Syrian refugees forced from their homes. Like Kihuen, Khan has plenty of skin in Trump’s game. “President Trump needs to understand that America’s greatest strength is the ability for hard working people like Dr. Khan or my family to come to this country and become a leading doctor in his field or a Member of Congress.”

“Our country is unique because it makes it possible for all immigrants to pursue their dreams no matter their background.” – Rep. Kihuen

Even though Nevada had no special role in Trump’s speech, the Silver State took center stage in the official Democratic Party response. I spoke online with DREAMer super-activist Astrid Silva Monday about her big moment on the national stage.

“I feel very honored to be representing Nevada and I hope that the work that has been done in our state for undocumented immigrants can be seen across the country.” – Astrid Silva

Not only did she participate in the Democratic response, but she also entered the U.S. Capitol as Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s (D) official guest. Silva admitted she was afraid, but she did it.

Even though Trump toned down his rhetoric somewhat, he continued to repeat lies about immigrants. He even used debunked talking points on terrorism to attempt to justify a new version of his “Don’t Call It a #MuslimBan.” Trump did suggest he’s open to immigration reform that includes some sort of deportation relief, yet he still called for more deportations.

“Dying industries will come roaring back to life. […] Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our beautiful land.” – President Trump

For all his blustery bravado, Trump has already fallen behind in delivering on his campaign promises. Trump’s promise of 4% annual economic growth is difficult enough with the current global environment, but that may be next to impossible with the austerity budget he’s offering. His rhetoric may already be scaring international tourists away from Las Vegas and other top American destinations. And for all his talk of “make America safe again”, Trump’s budget undermines his own stated goal.

Last night, Trump aimed to “press the reset button” after a stormy first month in office. He may have succeeded in using “softer language”, but he still hasn’t acknowledged the hard reality of governing. Questions remain on the feasibility of his plans. This #JointSession provided better optics, but many Nevadans still seek answers.

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