President Donald Trump’s election galvanized New York City Democratic lawmakers, who have fought the Republican’s agenda at every turn during his first 100 days in office.
City Council members have filed nine legislative proposals directed against Trump, with more in the pipeline, including a bill aimed at getting the president to release his tax returns by targeting a city contract held by his family-run company.
Meanwhile, City Comptroller Scott Stringer has published two Trump-related economic studies that have painted a bleak picture of the president’s tax and budget plans. Public Advocate Letitia James has pushed for legislation that would ban city agencies from hiring companies involved with the construction of Trump’s proposed southern border wall, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has called on the city’s police force to not act as immigration enforcers. He also has directed public school administrators to block federal immigration agents from entering school property unless they brandish a court order.
“We’ve put a lot of energy into working with members of Congress and mayors around the country to fight things like the repeal of the Affordable Care Act,” de Blasio said when asked about the time and resources his office has spent fighting Trump. “It’s true that if Hillary Clinton had been elected that’s time we would not have had to spend, but it was a good use of time and energy.”
For city officials, whose jobs tend to focus on addressing local concerns from traffic complaints to public safety issues, Trump’s election has provided a rallying point to promote progressive causes and an opportunity to elevate their national profile, said Doug Muzzio, a political science professor at Baruch College.
Muzzio said de Blasio, who is running for re-election this fall, and Democrats stand to gain from Trump’s unpopularity in his hometown, where 76 percent of city voters disapprove of the president’s job performance, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released March 29.
“It helps de Blasio and the City Council because it burnishes their record as progressives and as leaders in the opposition in the foremost city in the country,” Muzzio said. “On the political level, it’ll do good for them in an overwhelmingly Democratic city. Now the flip side of it is, if the federal government is able to get its act together and not run afoul of the courts, if Trump punishes cities like New York for being sanctuary cities, then you might start feeling the pain and support will evaporate.”
Although Trump has threatened to strip federal funding from “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate freely with immigration enforcement efforts, a federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked the president from enforcing an executive order signed in January that would have denied funding to local law enforcement agencies in sanctuary jurisdictions.
Several Republicans in the growing field of GOP mayoral candidates have criticized de Blasio and Democrats for their opposition to Trump, saying City Hall has become so consumed with railing against the White House that officials are ignoring local issues such as the city’s rise in homelessness.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito dismissed the criticism, saying “we are able to multitask in this city.”
Mark-Viverito, who used her State of the City address in February to outline a series of proposals that would block federal immigration officers from freely accessing city records and city property, added that many of the city’s objections to Trump’s agenda are regarding items that would directly affect city residents, such as a proposed $75 million cut in federal funding to the city’s low-income housing program.
“We will continue to resist. We will continue to be vocal, and we will continue to push back,” Mark-Viverito said.