Politics & Government

House Minority Leader Pelosi calls sanctuary cities law ‘an act of cowardice’

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Texas’ new anti-sanctuary cities law “an act of cowardice” during a rally where she told Democratic activists to vigorously resist the Republican agenda in Washington and Texas.

The controversial law, signed into law this month by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, on Monday spawned loud protests and prompted a scuffle that included gun threats between lawmakers on the state House floor, the last day of the regular legislative session.

The law, also known as Senate Bill 4, lets police ask about a person’s immigration status during traffic stops and requires to law enforcers to comply with federal requests to hold criminal suspects for deportation.

“SB 4 — what an act of cowardice,” Pelosi told more than 100 Democratic activists at the CWA Union Hall in Dallas as part of her rallying cry for what the Democrats are calling the “Resistance Summer.”

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa also criticized the law, while saying that Republicans “have another think coming if they think we are backing down this time.”

U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, a Fort Worth Democrat whose district stretches into Dallas County, stood on the stage with Pelosi and said Republicans have a “dangerous agenda.”

“It’s time to start fighting,” he said. “Now is the time to help send a message.”

Democrats stand a chance of retaking a majority in the U.S. House next year and gaining better footing to oppose President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan by holding them accountable for their agenda.

This latest effort by Democrats is a move to bolster activism and generate new voters and candidates alike. They want to grow activism that already has brought people to the streets to march for women’s rights, science, the environment and more — and help propel those people to the polls.

“There’s so much at stake for the people,” Pelosi told the crowd. “This resistance summer is so important. There are so many things happening.”

Local Republicans say they are not impressed with this latest move.

“Democrats have not just doubled down, but quadrupled down, on their efforts to divide America,” said Tim O’Hare, who heads the Tarrant County Republican Party.

“If you want to see what is wrong with Washington, look no further than Nancy Pelosi. She is everything that is wrong with Washington politics.”

Wednesday’s event included a number of Tarrant County Democrats including volunteers, activists, former state Rep. Lon Burnam of Fort Worth and former Tarrant County Democratic Party Chair Art Brender.

‘This is all wrong’

At the top of Pelosi’s priority list is preventing the repeal of the country’s health care law. She said the Republican plan could undermine Medicare, eliminate pre-existing conditions and more.

“Imagine ... a health care bill that would make us worse off than before the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi said. “This is all wrong.”

Lawmakers instead, she said, should focus on priorities, including creating more jobs, protecting and investing in the middle class, making sure there’s clean air and clear water, educating youth and ensuring health care for everyone.

“It’s urgent for us to win back the Congress in 2018,” she said. “Are you ready for Texas to lead the way?

David Lowe — a 33-year-old Republican from Addison — was among those in the crowd. He said he just wanted to hear Pelosi speak.

“I hear sound bites of both Republicans and Democrats, but I never hear the whole conversation,” Lowe said. “She (Pelosi) isn’t going to change my mind. I think she’s a nut job.

“But I want to know what she has to say.”

‘We can’t be silent’

Bonnie Mathias — a 59-year-old Dallas woman wearing a T-shirt that stated: “And you thought I was a nasty woman before? Buckle up, Buttercup” — was among those in the crowd.

“I know we have to fight harder than we’ve fought before,” she said. “But with people like Marc (Veasey) and Nancy (Pelosi), ... we have a chance.”

Pam Durham, a longtime Fort Worth Democrat, said she made her way to the rally to unite with like-minded Democrats.

“We are ready to make sure that our voices are heard,” she said. “We can’t be silent. We won’t be silent. ... We are saying that man is not right.”

Dylan Lofton, a 19-year-old Fort Worth man, said he made his way to Dallas for the rally for a different reason.

“I want to get more involved, take back more seats in 2018 and help control the Trump agenda,” said Lofton, a precinct chair coordinator for the Tarrant County Democratic Party. “I think this is really good.”

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

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