With a speech delivered at the National Congress of American Indians on Wednesday morning, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told the gathering of Native Americans that she will not allow President Donald Trump’s racist attack on her heritage to be a smear against her, but will instead do her best to use such attacks to uplift the proud traditions—as well as the historic struggles—of North America’s indigenous tribes and communities.
Addressing directly how the president referred to her as ‘Pocahontas’ during a White House ceremony last year, Warren said that she is proud of her Native American roots.
“I’ve noticed that every time my name comes up, President Trump likes to talk about Pocahontas,” she said. “So I figured, let’s talk about Pocahontas. Not Pocahontas, the fictional character most Americans know from the movies, but Pocahontas, the Native woman who really lived, and whose real story has been passed down to so many of you through the generations.”
The mythology around Pocahontas, said Warren, is one that “has been taken away by powerful people who twisted it to serve their own purposes. The fable is used to bleach away the stain of genocide. As you know, Pocahontas’s real journey was far more remarkable — and far darker — than the myth admits.”
Why denouncing the president’s clear intent to use the name as a racist slur and a smear against her and Native Americans more broadly—with many in the right-wing media echo chamber happy to play along—Warren said she does not intend to submit to those designs.
“I’m here today to make a promise,” Warren told the audience, according to a transcript first published in the Boston Globe on Wednesday. “Every time someone brings up my family’s story, I’m going to use it to lift up the story of your families and your communities.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement Thursday on the budget agreement:
“As the ranking member of the Budget Committee, I am proud of the initiatives that I fought for in this agreement that increase funding for child care, the Social Security Administration, Veterans Administration, community health centers, student debt relief, our crumbling infrastructure, the opioid epidemic and disaster recovery efforts.
“Unfortunately, there are two fundamental failings in this deal that will prevent me from voting for it. First, this bill does not address the great moral issue of our time – the fact that in three weeks 800,000 young Dreamers will lose their legal status and be subject to deportation. Second, the $165 billion increase in defense spending is much too large. I believe in a strong military, but at a time when the U.S. spends more on defense than the next 12 countries combined, the last thing we should do is massively increase the Pentagon’s budget.”
However, I will be voting no. This bill does not address the great moral issue of our time – the fact that in three weeks 800,000 young Dreamers will lose their legal status and be subject to deportation.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi commandeered the House floor Wednesday for a day-into-night marathon plea to Republicans for action on immigration, casting the fate of young undocumented immigrants in moral terms.
The 77-year-old Pelosi stood for more than eight hours, reading multiple personal stories from “dreamers” and citing Bible passages. Her speech ranked as the longest given by a member of the House of Representatives in at least a century, possibly ever, focusing on an issue that has vexed Democrats for months.
Taking advantage of a rule that allows only top party leaders the special right to speak as long as they want, Pelosi had called aides at 7:45 a.m. on her drive to work Wednesday and instructed them to send out an all-member request for stories from dreamers and select Bible verses. By the afternoon, Democrats had submitted hundreds of stories that staffers printed out and rushed to the floor.
Pelosi stood from the podium in four-inch heels and spoke and spoke and spoke.
Pelosi used the speech to say she would lead opposition to a broad two-year budget agreement, negotiated with Republicans by her and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), that includes several Democratic priorities but does not address the legal status of people protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is set to expire next month. The fate of people protected by the program has prolonged the spending debate for several months.
Shortly after 6 p.m., Pelosi finished her remarks that had been delivered entirely standing, as she was forbidden from sitting down or taking a restroom break. Her Democratic colleagues applauded.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, says the 3-day-long government shutdown that briefly brought Washington grinding to a halt was “the right thing to do” in order to stand up for “Dreamers.”
“I think from a moral perspective it was the right thing to do. And that is to say to these 800,000 young people, we are not going to allow them to be subjected to deportation,” Sanders told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
Sanders said short-term continuing resolutions like the one that ended the shutdown by funding the government at current levels through Feb. 8 are “very detrimental to the military and to many other agencies of government.”
“We are a $4 trillion government. There are areas where we should be spending more money, areas where we should be spending less money. But you cannot simply spend in every division of the government the same amount as you spent last year,” he said. “It’s a terrible, terrible and inefficient way to run a government.”
While both Republicans and Democrats have called for DACA legislation to protect Dreamers, Sanders said he still has concerns about the Trump administration’s other priorities in any immigration bill, such as cuts to legal immigration programs.
“We cannot let [Dreamers] be put in a position where they’re subjected to deportation,” he said. “So the main focus to my mind has got to be to make sure that Dreamers have legal status and a path toward citizenship.”
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