The Democrats First 100 Days During The Trump Administration
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
And we've been talking this hour about the president's first 100 days. We've heard assessments from members of his own party. But we also want to talk about the Democrats. We're interested in how Democrats see their role when they control neither House in Congress nor the White House and how they hope to regroup.
So we've called Senator Chris Van Hollen. He's the junior senator from Maryland, but he's had important party leadership roles for years, including running committees to elect Democrats to both houses of Congress. Senator Chris Van Hollen, thanks so much for speaking with us.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Michel, it's great to be with you.
MARTIN: So we've been asking our guests to describe President Trump's first 100 days, but I'm going to ask you to describe the Democrats' first 100 days in the era of Trump. You know, some on the Democratic side style themselves as the resistance. What would you say?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I would say the first 100 days have been a massive resistance to the Trump agenda during the first 100 days. And, you know, Donald Trump had a choice. What was he going to start with in terms of his agenda? How was he going to govern? And he decided right out of the box to focus on the most divisive things, beginning with trying to blow up the Affordable Care Act and put forward a plan that would, according to the non - you know, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office result in 24 million Americans losing access to affordable care while he was giving tax breaks to very wealthy Americans. So yes, the first 100 days have been defined by Democrats and others taking to the streets, taking to rallies to push back on what has been a very destructive, divisive agenda.
MARTIN: What constitutes success for you? I mean, is it to be seen to be resisting at every turn? Is it to try to advance issues that might benefit your constituents? For example, maybe a health care bill that, even if it's not pretty, you know, preserves important elements of the Affordable Care Act. I mean, what constitutes success for you right now?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, what we would like to see is the opportunity to move together and make progress on some issues. We've been clear from the start that the Affordable Care Act is not perfect. There are some commonsense adjustments that can be made. But Donald Trump and the Republicans were not interested at all in improving it. They wanted to blow it up.
We've also, Senate Democrats, put forward a plan right out of the box to modernize our infrastructure, our roads, our - you know, our roads, bridges, even, you know, expand our broadband, clean energy grid, something Donald Trump talked a lot about during the campaign but seems to be on the backburner for him now. So we put together plans that, you know, engage with us on this, and nobody really returned our phone calls. So they've decided to govern in a very divisive way. And...
MARTIN: OK, but I'm asking you about your - what's your measure of success? How should people be grading the Democrats right now?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, the major scale for the Democrats right now is to beat at the destructive Trump agenda. And again, for the country, we would like to make progress on these issues I just mentioned, modernizing our infrastructure being one, improving the Affordable Care Act but not blowing it up being another. But we are not in the majority in Congress, and we don't have the White House. And so we don't have the opportunity to shape the agenda.
What we have is the opportunity to make sure that Donald Trump cannot turn back the clock on progress in the United States of America. I think for all of us, Michel, we would like to see someone in the White House who can speak internationally with credibility.
MARTIN: That's Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. It's his job to elect Democrats to the Senate. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.