WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats tried unsuccessfully to block President Trump’s executive order temporarily barring refugees and visitors from a handful of Muslim-majority countries, and capped off the day leading a protest at the steps of the Supreme Court and holding the Senate floor into the night.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced a bill to rescind Trump’s order and a second measure to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to give Congress greater oversight over the president’s authority to bar certain people from entering the country.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tried to force a vote on the bill to block the executive order, but was blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who accused Democrats of “shedding crocodile tears” over the issue.
In the House, Republicans blocked immediate consideration of an effort by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) to defund Trump’s executive order; they named their bill the Statue of Liberty Values Act.
Lofgren said her bill “states that President Trump’s executive order will have no effect or force of law and states that no funds or fees shall be used to implement the order.”
In their evening rally outside the highest court in the land, congressional Dems surrounded by a crowd of demonstrators sang “This Land Is Your Land” while waiting for someone to fix the microphones.
“What the president did is not constitutional… it is immoral,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “What the president has done is not in the interest of security — it is reckless and rash.”
Schumer said the order “is against what we believe in in America — the order will make us unsafe, the order will make us inhumane, the order will make us less of America.” He added that the order “will encourage lone wolves” to commit acts of terror “as they get more and more isolated.”
Dems held tealight candles aloft, referencing the torch of the Statue of Liberty, while calling on Trump to withdraw the executive order.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) called Trump the “little man in the White House” who signed a “dangerously stupid” executive order. He added that the wave of protest “gives me great hope that our country can overcome this dark time.”
Recent immigrants were brought up to the microphone, including Syrian journalist and filmmaker Omar Al-Muqdad, who was granted asylum in the United States in 2012.
“Refugees are not your enemy; your enemy is the one who made them refugees,” he told the crowd.
Al-Muqdad recounted how he fled the persecution of the Assad regime, including harassment from Syrian security forces for practicing freedom of speech. “I believe in American principles, I believe in liberalism, I am not your enemy, I am not terrorist,” he said. “You can’t paint 7 million Syrian refugees with a single brush and call them terrorists — that’s wrong.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) declared “this country is in crisis” as “it is no longer business as usual in Washington.”
“We are here to step up in this moment; Americans are a good and decent people,” she said. “…We stand up for our fellow human beings.”
The senator vowed to fight Trump in the courts and in Congress “as he tries to put himself above the law of the United States.”
“This is the purest form of patriotism — we are here to defend the Constitution of the United States,” Warren said.
A chunk of the crowd was chanting for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who told Trump “your ban denying people the right to visit our country contradicts everything this country stands for and what our men and women in the military have fought for.”
“Not only is this ban in violation of what we as Americans stand for, it will make us less safe,” Sanders said, declaring it gave “ammunition to the jihadists” and stressing “we do not hate the Muslim people and we want them to know that.”
After the rally, Warren gave an hourlong speech on Senate floor blasting GOPs: “Where are the Senate Republicans when their Republican president issues an order targeting one religious group?” she asked.
Democrats were still holding the floor late into the night with speeches from Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) as well as Schumer.