Dem leaders try ‘prebuttal’ on Trump

Dem leaders try ‘prebuttal’ on Trump
© Greg Nash

Democrats are taking an opening shot at President Trump ahead of his first speech to Congress.

Top lawmakers spent Monday bashing probable talking points ahead of Trump’s address — which is expected to focus on the “renewal of the American spirit” — and knocking the first month of his administration.


Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held a joint press conference billed as a “prebuttal” to Trump.

Pelosi said Trump and congressional Republicans will be unable to tout a major accomplishment during Tuesday night’s speech.

“When the president talks about a mess, he’s talking about his first 40 days in office, which he literally squandered,” she said at the National Press Club event.

She contrasted the first 40 days for Trump to President Obama’s first weeks in office. He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act -— aimed at closing the gender pay gap — in late January, and a nearly $1 trillion stimulus package by mid-February 2009.

The prime-time address comes as the Trump administration and Republicans fight with Democrats over Trump’s Cabinet nominees, whose slow-walking has publicly frustrated the president.

Schumer cast his party as having momentum going into Tuesday night even though it was drubbed in the November elections.

He argued that the party’s hardball strategy on confirming Trump’s Cabinet is already paying dividends.

“On both the Cabinet and [Affordable Care Act] ... in the first month, Democrats are united and on the offensive. Republicans are divided and on defense. We’re doing a lot better than we thought,” he said.

Trump’s address on Tuesday is not an official State of the Union, since those are only given after a president’s first year in office. But it’s expected to serve a similar role in outlining the president’s domestic and economic agenda.

It will mark the first time Trump has spoken before Congress.

Trump is expected to discuss the need to repeal and replace the “disaster” of ObamaCare, according to a preview of Trump’s remarks that the administration blasted out to multiple publications.

He’s also expected to call for overhauling regulations and reforming the tax code.

Republicans offered their own pregame spin on Monday.

After meeting with Trump at the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' MORE (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book Paul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms MORE (R-Wis.) predicted that the president will focus on implementing an ambitious GOP agenda.

“We’re looking forward to a positive, upbeat presentation tomorrow night and proceeding with our agenda,” McConnell told reporters outside the Oval Office on Monday.

Ryan added, “We have a bold agenda in front of us, and the president is going to lay it out.”

Republicans have worked overtime to project that they are on the same page of the administration, despite acknowledging that they were out of the loop on some of the Trump administration’s early controversies, including an executive order temporarily blocking people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOvernight Defense & National Security: War ends, but finger pointing continues Harris presides over Senate passage of bill assisting Americans fleeing Afghanistan Senate panel votes to repeal Iraq war authorizations MORE (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, used a speech at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy to knock Trump and take aim at “new and significant foreign policy challenges” created during the first month of the administration.

“If [his speech] is anything like his inaugural address, it will be extremely disappointing,” Cardin said, according to multiple news reports.

Some Democrats are trolling Trump with their guests to the president’s speech. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) announced that he will bring as his guest former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who defeated Ellison over the weekend in the race to be Democratic National Committee chairman.

Others are bringing people they believe will be hurt by the GOP agenda.

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinManchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema US gymnasts offer scathing assessment of FBI MORE (D-Ill.) will bring an undocumented medical student to the speech, while Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenFederal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Mass.) will be joined by a former Iraqi refugee.

Schumer predicted another round of “bluster and blame” from the president.

“I fully expect the president to resort to the same populist message he used in his campaign and inauguration full of grandiose promises ... to gloss over the reality of his administration,” he told reporters.