BOSTON (AP) — Democrats in one of the country’s most liberal-leaning states are searching for ways to resist President Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, Democratic members of the Massachusetts House met for two hours in an unusual closed-door caucus that was part strategy session, part group therapy.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo said his fellow Democrats raised a slew of areas where they differed with Trump, from immigration and health care to Planned Parenthood and climate change.
DeLeo said members told him they want to send a strong message that they disagree with Trump and will do everything they can to take action.
He said that while passing a resolution condemning Trump’s actions is appealing, many House Democrats want to do more to reassure nervous and angry constituents.
“I think most importantly they want to see action and a statement to our constituents that we hear their concerns, we don’t agree with what’s going on with the Trump administration, and we here in Massachusetts to the best of our power are going to do something about it,” DeLeo told reporters after the caucus.
He declined to name specific actions, other than opposing a plan by one of the state’s sheriffs who offered to send county jail inmates to help build Trump’s promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
DeLeo said he wasn’t comfortable with going as far as naming Massachusetts a so-called “sanctuary state,” saying that decision should be left to individual cities and towns.
Sanctuary cities typically place limits on the extent to which local police departments cooperate with federal immigration agencies.
“The biggest message I got is that people want to be able to just keep on showing that Massachusetts is different,” DeLeo said.
Massachusetts leaned heavily against Trump in last year’s election, handing Hillary Clinton a 27-point margin of victory.
House Republican Leader Bradley Jones said Democrats need to be careful not to pass legislation that could have unintended consequences.
“To the extent that people want to have a discussion and have it be cathartic about expressing their frustrations and their concerns, that’s fine,” Jones said.
“Frustration over what they perceive as a lack of thoughtful leadership by the Trump administration shouldn’t be in turn met by a lack of thoughtful leadership out of the membership here,” he added.
The Massachusetts Senate earlier this month approved a resolution condemning Trump’s executive order restricting travel into the U.S. arguing in part that it interfered with the rights of “already documented students, workers, permanent residents, and other visitors.”
Trump’s order has been put on hold after a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit last week refused to block a lower-court decision that suspended the ban.