Three Democratic state senators from Montgomery County spent more than three hours Thursday at the Executive Office Building listening as several federal officials spoke about various Trump administration policies.
Senators Cheryl Kagan (Dist. 17), Will Smith (Dist. 20) and Brian Feldman (Dist. 15) were among 125 state and local politicians from Maryland and Delaware to attend the White House briefing. Most of those in attendance were Republicans, according to Kagan.
The opioid crisis, transportation grants, veterans’ health care and the census were some of the issues discussed.
“As I expected, the speakers were on message” and shared the administration’s policies, Kagan said.
However, a question-and-answer period followed the speeches, and Kagan managed to pose a question to a representative from the U.S. Department of Transportation about the need for funding for the Metro public transit system, she said.
Kagan said she pointed out more than one-third of Metro riders, which include many tourists from around the country as well as federal workers commuting to work, as a reason why more federal dollars are needed.
“He gave me a disrespectfully dismissive answer,” Kagan recalled.
The high-level official from DOT said she “should talk to Congress about that.” He then “completely dismissed the concept of the federal government doing their fair share,” Kagan said.
Another politician questioned U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross about why the administration wants a citizenship question placed on the census.
Ross “completely ducked it. He didn’t answer it at all,” Kagan said. “He just talked about how we are going to count everybody” and that the 2020 census would be confidential.
When first invited, Kagan had mulled whether to attend as she is no fan of the President Donald Trump and his policies, she had explained at the time.
She even turned to Facebook to ask her followers if she should go. She received a mix of replies with the consensus that she should go.
Following the session, Kagan said she didn’t regret going. She cited her curiosity, the need for engagement and “an eagerness to confront them on key issues” as her reasons for going.
She said she appreciated the chance to engage with both her Maryland colleagues and representatives from the administration.
Kagan said the event included “a lengthy line” to go through security after which the politicians were offered bottled water and a Wi-Fi password to use for the day.