WASHINGTON, D.C. — During a week in which San Jose lawmakers say President Donald Trump delivered a divisive speech and then watched the majority of the Senate vote to acquit him of impeachment charges, California U.S. Reps. Ro Khanna, Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren all say they hope Congress can move forward.
“People, they’re desperate for the Congress to make the changes that will walk into their lives,” Eshoo told San José Spotlight on Thursday morning.
But this week in Washington has been like no other. Eshoo, who has served in the House since 1993, says she’d never seen a State of the Union address quite like Trump gave Tuesday evening.
“I thought it was an unbecoming evening,” she said. “I found it to be very uncomfortable with members chanting four more years.”
While State of the Union speeches are opportunities for the president to present his legislative priorities in the chamber of the House, it was a night where partisanship was undeniably on display.
“The next major priority for me, and for all of us, should be to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs, and to protect patients with preexisting conditions,” Trump said during his address.
At that moment, House Democrats stood and raised three fingers indicating H.R. 3, a bill that passed in the House in December that would allow Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies.
“At some point the rhetoric isn’t enough,” Khanna said after the speech. “When the cameras are off, he’s not willing to sign the legislation that the House has actually passed.”
H.R. 3, the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, was first presented in Eshoo’s committee last year. ”So when he says he wants to do it, we already have the vehicle,” Eshoo said. “To be kind, it’s a lot of double talk.”
A majority of senators voted to acquit the president on Wednesday. Lofgren, as one of the impeachment managers, was not able to go home for weeks or see her family during the trial. The hours of arguments and speeches aired live on television, and Lofgren says that while she received messages from people in her district who disagreed with the charges, most wrote to her saying she’d restored their faith in government. But that’s not a widespread sentiment.
“I thought it was disappointing that some senators were blind to the facts,” Lofgren said. “But maybe even more troubling were senators who acknowledged that we’d proved our case but thought well, he’s our guy let him get away with it anyhow. That’s pretty disturbing for the republic.”
Khanna, who has been a national co-chair for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, agreed.
“People are in their camps. Those of us who saw the evidence and said that the president was guilty support the impeachment,” Khanna said. “Those who don’t want to consider the evidence because they just are for Trump, they’re not going to change their mind. I think it’s polarized the country more.”
But during the breaks in the impeachment trial, Lofgren said she spoke to senators of both parties about bills that she hopes to work on with them — and now that the impeachment dust has settled, the veteran legislator said she’s ready to move forward and get things done.
“We’ll work on a lot of things,” Lofgren said.