California lawmakers step up their opposition to Trump

California lawmakers step up their opposition to Trump
© Getty Images

California Democratic lawmakers left the state capitol on Saturday after a legislative session that often seemed geared toward implicitly – and, at times, explicitly – resisting President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE and the Republican-led Congress' agenda. 

"We're wrapping up what may be the most progressive legislative session in memory," State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) said in his closing remarks early Saturday.

That session was marked by efforts to bolster protections for undocumented immigrants and strengthen environmental policies, positions that put state lawmakers at clear odds with the Republican leadership in Washington.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We put our values into action," California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D) told the Los Angeles Times in the early hours of Saturday. 

Among the bills sent to Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) desk were a measure that would force presidential candidates to release their tax returns before they're allowed on the ballot and a bill making California a "sanctuary state" for undocumented immigrants. 

Both of those measures appear as a direct response to Trump, who declined during and after his presidential campaign to release his personal tax returns and whose administration has vowed to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities – localities that refuse to cooperate fully with federal immigration enforcement efforts. 

In another clear rebuke of Trump, the State Assembly voted late Friday to approve a resolution urging Congress to formally censure the president for response to violent white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Va. last month. 

In the wake of that demonstration, Trump blamed both white supremacists and counterprotesters for igniting mayhem in the usually quiet college town, and appeared to equate hate groups with those opposing them.

The resolution, introduced by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D), passed overwhelmingly in the chamber, and calls on other state legislatures to follow suit. 

"It's time to speak up against President Trump's attempts to divide our country. His alienation policy hurts many of our constituents in California. In California we take pride in our diversity and bringing people together. As policy makers, we respect the Office of the President, but we have serious philosophical differences about how we feel people should be treated. All people should have an opportunity to live a productive life," Thurmond said in a statement.

Several California Democratic lawmakers cast support for the resolution as a moral imperative, saying that the president's comments and actions have given them no choice but to speak out. 

"HR57 is on the floor of the CA Assembly now," Thurmond wrote in a tweet on Friday. "POTUS failed to condemn hate at #Charlottesville. CA has no choice but to demand #CensureTrump."

"I am tired of talking about Donald Trump," Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D) said, according to the Sacramento Bee. "Unfortunately, the world that I live in demands that I say something."

That the state's Democratic lawmakers are casting opposition to the White House as an effort based on state values echoes a similar argument put forth by Brown, California's Democratic governor, who this summer aggressively defied Trump over his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

After Trump announced in June that the U.S. would seek to pull out of the 195-nation compact, Brown warned that "California will resist" before jetting off to China for a global climate summit.

“I’m on the side of the angels,” he told Politico in an interview this summer. “I’m going to do everything I can, and people are going to join with me.”

California officials have also taken their fight with Trump to the courts. Last month, the state sued the administration over its threats to withhold federal grant funds from sanctuary cities.

And on Monday, state Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Health Care — Presented by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing — FDA panel endorses booster shots of Johnson & Johnson vaccine Biden administration to invest 0 million to boost health care, attract workers FDA guidance calls for voluntary salt reduction in food supply MORE, a former Democratic member of the House, announced that California had filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, alleging that the president's decision to rescind the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was unconstitutional.

Fifteen other states filed a similar lawsuit against the administration last week. But Becerra said that he had filed a separate suit, because California would be affected particularly deeply by the president's decision.

"I think everyone recognizes the scope and breadth of the Trump decision to terminate DACA hits hardest here," he said.

Updated at 7:14 p.m.