WASHINGTON (February 6, 2019)—Maryland's Democratic lawmakers were cold to President Donald Trump's call for unity in Tuesday's State of the Union, saying it failed to live up to its advance billing and broke no new ground.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, said he didn't want to call it an official State of the Union, telling reporters Wednesday, "It reminded me more of one of his political rallies."
Hoyer gave reporters stacks of papers that detailed his fact-checking of the president's speech.
"I was deeply disappointed with the president's speech," Hoyer said. "It was anything but what it was projected to be, either a focus on bringing people together and bipartisan action, in fact it was exactly the opposite."
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said Trump was clearly disconnected from the country: "He didn't acknowledge the shutdown or the people affected by it. He didn't provide confidence to the country that we'll avoid another shutdown."
Van Hollen tweeted, "It turns out, (SOTU) doesn't get better the second time around. We mostly heard reruns of the same division and dishonesty that has become the hallmark of this presidency. But I know Americans are hungry for real, bipartisan solutions."
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, agreed with the president's recognition of the increase in women serving in Congress but noted that the issue of gender equality needed more than just "lip service."
"It deserves to be expressly protected by our Constitution. If we're serious about women's rights, we must support ratifying the #ERANow," Cardin tweeted.
The Equal Rights Amendment would guarantee overall equality for women under the U.S. Constitution. The National Organization for Women (NOW) has made this issue its top priority, and many female lawmakers showed their support by wearing all white and "ERA YES" buttons to Trump's address to symbolize the women's suffrage movement.
After attending the address, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, said he liked the message conveyed about peace, but disapproved of how it neglected "the major crises of our time" like gun violence by Americans, immigration reform or climate change.
"It was a typically dreadful Trump speech. It was interminable," he said. "He also seemed to threaten war at a couple of different of times."
Raskin spoke at a Wednesday House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing about new legislation, proposed by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Towson, that would impose stronger ethical rules on the executive branch.
Raskin said "the executive branch is drowning in big money corruption, self-dealing, and lawlessness. They said they were going to drain the swamp. Instead, they moved into the swamp, built a hotel on it, and started renting out rooms to foreign princes, kings, and governments."
Sarbanes said that his "For the People" Act will ensure that, "when people come to Washington to serve, they behave themselves. They act in the public trust, and they serve the public interest."
Rep. David Trone, D-Potomac, said Trump's discussion of the bipartisan support for criminal justice reform was a great start.
However, Trone also criticized Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico, tweeting: "Modern border security means increased funding for technology, surveillance, border patrol officers, and immigration judges. Not a fifth century wall."
Similarly, Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Mitchellville, dismissed the president's border security plans for the funding of a wall, citing their inability to prevent drug trafficking and curb the issues resulting from the refugee crisis.
"Only American leadership, multilateral partnership, and living to our highest ideals can accomplish that," Brown tweeted.
Trump's labelling of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation as "ridiculous" and "partisan" drew fire from Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, and chairman of the House oversight panel.
"The president seems to believe that because Congress must legislate, we should not investigate," Cummings said in a statement. "Of course, the Constitution requires us to do both. That is exactly how it works."
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Timonium, also found fault with the president saying, "If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation."
"Cute rhyme, but @realDonaldTrump should not fear investigation if he has done nothing wrong. Congress and the special prosecutor should follow the facts whichever way they lead," Ruppersberger tweeted.
Maryland's lone Republican in Congress, Rep. Andy Harris of Cockeysville, praised Trump's address.
"It was a great speech," he said. "I think the president did what he had to do to make the case to the American people that the economy is sound but we have some security issues that we have to deal with both far and on our southern border. I think he challenged Congress to step up and do what it should do."
He also praised Trump's call for legislation that would prohibit late-term abortions.
"We must protect children, born and unborn, and we have to start now," Harris tweeted.