If you watched President Trump’s speech tonight, you may have missed a familiar sight: me, leaning in to greet the President and shake his hand.
For 28 years, during Democratic and Republican administrations alike, I've observed this tradition as a symbol of my firm belief: no matter who's in the White House, the President and Congress need to work together to get things done for the American people.
Unfortunately, after an election marred by the intervention of a hostile foreign power, President Trump has shown no interest in working in this way.
Instead, he has attacked the free press, calling it the "enemy of American people" and excluding from press briefings news outlets whose coverage he doesn't like. His Administration rammed through an immigration and refugee order that made us less safe and upended America's traditional role sheltering those who seek freedom and flee persecution. The White House has cozied up to Vladimir Putin, the strongman who attacked our democracy, invaded and occupied Ukraine, and stoked further bloodshed in Syria. The Administration has, on several occasions, looked the other way when threats against the Jewish community increased. And the President is leading the charge to gut the Affordable Care Act-Obamacare — and take health insurance away from millions of Americans.
Like the vast majority of Americans, I respect the presidency as an institution. But respect is a two-way street, especially between branches of government. What the President offers isn't part of our normal political discourse. It goes beyond ideological and political differences. And my constituents expect me to say so.
I was willing to hear what the President had to say last night. But I won't pretend that this is business as usual. I'm going to keep fighting for the things that matter most to New Yorkers: quality affordable health care, access to a strong education, an economy that works for everyone, and ensuring America's leadership in the world.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) is the U.S. Representative for New York’s 16th congressional district, which spans parts of Bronx and Westchester Counties. He is the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
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