Recap and analysis of the week in state, and federal, government
from State House News Service
BOSTON — President Donald Trump’s fledgling administration and legislative Democrats on Beacon Hill may have one thing in common: a willingness to test the boundaries of what the electorate might be willing to stomach before there are political consequences.
One difference, however, is that Trump told voters essentially what he planned to do before the November election. State lawmakers? Not exactly.
Trump crossed the line for many Massachusetts residents and elected leaders late last week when he signed an executive order halting refugee resettlement in the United States and restricting travel for immigrants and visitors from seven majority-Muslim countries.
While the White House insisted this was not the Muslim ban that Trump talked about during the campaign, many immigration advocates viewed it as just that, and those in the state’s higher education and technology worlds warned that it would cut off access to talent that helps drive the state economy.
The action sparked virulent protests throughout the weekend and led to Attorney General Maura Healey filing suit in federal court this week on behalf of the state and the University of Massachusetts seeking to overturn the order on constitutional grounds.
Back under the Dome, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg used the cover of the Trump chaos and the New England Patriots run-up to Super Bowl LI as an opportune time to finalize an $18 million package of pay raises for themselves and others by overriding the governor’s veto.
For pay raise proponents, the override went about as smoothly as could be expected given the volume of phone calls and public opposition to the idea. Not one Democrat besides the 12 already on record in opposition defected in the week between the bill’s passage and the vote.
The 116-43 vote in the House and 31-9 vote in the Senate comfortably eclipsed the two-thirds margin needed in each branch to reverse the governor’s veto.
In other words, no one who voted for the raise was swayed by either the governor’s case against the bill or the public outcry.
Knowing they had the votes, leaders largely dispensed with the idea of speaking out to defend the move, but when they did they pointed again to the decades that have elapsed since salaries were seriously adjusted.
Calls from upset voters have reportedly poured in to some elected officials, including Gov. Charlie Baker. But as MassINC pollster Steve Koczela noted on Twitter: “Unless MA voting patterns change, the House could vote to ban apple pie and baseball without worrying too much.”
— Matt Murphy
OFF THE TOP
DeLeo convenes Dems to talk Trump
House Speaker Robert DeLeo last Thursday evening called a caucus for Wednesday, Feb. 8, to discuss with Democratic members how, if at all, the House should respond to recent actions taken by President Donald Trump.
- In the email to House members, the speaker’s office said it hoped to “elicit feedback from members and to discuss the Massachusetts House of Representatives’ response to recent actions of the Trump administration.”
- The Senate on Thursday passed a nonbinding resolution opposing Trump’s order on immigration and refugee policy and calling on the president to rescind the order that “presents serious constitutional and other legal issues.”
— Matt Murphy
ALSO ON THE AGENDA
- Governor reiterates support of refugees, immigrants
- Video: Baker and DeLeo on the big payday
- ‘Down payment’ planned to address school spending gap
- Not-quite-silent minority raps salary spike
- Polito speaks out against Trump immigration stance
THE BIG DEAL
‘Troubled’ by Trump, Baker doubles down on support of refugees, immigrants
Please log in or subscribe to read the entire story. Only $2.
Worcester Sun print edition on sale now!