President Donald Trump struck a chord of bipartisanship in his first State of the Union address, but some Nevada Democrats want to see action rather than rhetoric.
“Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve,” Trump said.
Trump lauded passage of the Republican tax law, called for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill and reiterated his call to address immigration. The president underscored his proposal, which includes a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age, known as DREAMers, increased border security, revamping the diversity visa lottery to make it more merit-based and limiting the ability of immigrants to only sponsor for legal status their spouses and underage children.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto was unimpressed by the speech.
“I’m more interested in his actions than his words and so far his actions have been falling short,” she said coming out of the House chamber where Trump delivered his address.
She noted that there are areas where Democrats and Republicans can work together. For example, she said, on infrastructure and reducing the cost of prescription drugs, which Trump said he would make a priority. But she complained that “there was no concrete, specific action that the administration was going to take.”
Reps. Jacky Rosen and Dina Titus also felt the speech did not match the administration’s actions.
“Let’s see if the Republicans can keep to some of the things he said,” Rosen said exiting the House chamber.
She did note that she appreciated some of his guests to which he paid tribute in the speech, which included members of the armed forces, first responders and Seong-ho, a North Korean who managed to make it to China after a harrowing ordeal.
“That is the heart of America, I was really happy to see him honor those people, that really touched me the most,” Rosen said.
Titus, in a statement, said the speech was full of “bluster, hypocrisy, and hyperbole.”
“In short, Trump said nothing new, and did little to reach across the aisle,” she said. “The chanting at the end of the speech seemed more appropriate for a political rally than a State of the Union address.”
On the Republican side, Rep. Mark Amodei chose not to attend the speech and traveled back to Nevada. He raffled off his guest ticket among his staff.
“I’ll be tuning into the President’s televised address tonight as I travel home to Nevada,” he said in a statement from his office. “Going home tonight will give me an extra day for meetings with constituents and federal agencies before I head back to Washington on Monday.”
“Additionally, since no one from the district requested a ticket to the State of the Union Address, our office held a drawing among staff, and Kenneth Brooke, a legislative staffer in my Washington office will be taking the guest ticket.”
He will also skip the Republican retreat scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, when Trump will attend, at the Greenbrier, a hotel and resort in West Virginia.
Sen. Dean Heller took to Twitter to show his support for veterans and the GOP tax cut law.
The speech capped a long day where members of the delegation showed their support for DREAMers and those under Temporary Protected Status, also known as TPS. Both Cortez Masto and Rosen invited Salvadorans from Las Vegas who are TPS recipients. The Trump administration will force Salvadoran TPS recipients to leave the country in 2019.
Arizona Republican Paul Gosar created a stir when he announced on Twitter that he had reached out to the U.S. Capitol Police and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ask that they consider checking identification of all attending the State of the Union address and arresting any undocumented persons attending.
“Of all the places where the rule of law needs to be enforced, it should be in the hallowed halls of Congress,” Gosar said. “Illegal aliens attempting to go through security, under any pretext of invitation or otherwise, should be arrested and deported.”
Cortez Masto called it “outrageous.”
“It just shows you the level of hate that is out there not only from some members here, but this administration who has not stood up and said anything about protecting individuals who are legally here,” she said in an interview earlier Tuesday. “I will do everything to push back against it, call it what is and protect DREAMers and TPS recipients and members in our community from that type of hateful rhetoric.”
She praised her guest, Flor de Maria Campos, who owns two restaurants with her husband, and Jose Alvarado, who works as a chef for a restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip.
“She is a business owner, she employs people in the state of Nevada,” Cortez Masto said. “I felt it was important that she not only come here, [but that] we tell the story of who she is and the impact that this administration is having on her life and many similar people, like, her across this country.”
Rosen invited Nery Martinez, a bar apprentice at Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino. He ended up at the State of the Union through his union. He is a member of the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, which is majority Latino and has provided help to its members who participate in the Temporary Protected Status program, like Martinez.
His initial reaction was “why does she want me there?,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
But he quickly learned that he was part of a grassroots effort to help TPS recipients deliver their message to Congress.
“You have to raise your voice, otherwise they won’t listen to us,” Martinez said. “Any little small thing you do…it helps.”