In the House, the condemnations ranged in topic from the implementation of the executive order to its basic morality. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), whose western Wisconsin district went for Trump after decades of support for Democrats, said in a statement that America “cannot start discriminating based on religion.”
“Instead of helping keep our country safe it will jeopardize our national security by giving ISIS and other terror groups another recruitment tool,” Kind said of the order, “and making it harder for our allies in Muslim nations to work with us on counterterrorism operations.”
Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa), now the only Democratic member of Congress from Iowa, called the order a departure from American values that “put Americans at risk and gives fodder to our enemies.”
Rep. Matthew Cartwright (D-Pa.), whose Lehigh Valley district experienced one of the biggest swings from blue to red, used some of the same critical analysis. “Our national devotion to religious freedom and tolerance is not Republican or Democratic,” he said. “It’s American.”
Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), one of three Minnesotans whose large rural seats flipped from blue to red, used his statement to defend the refugee-vetting program and accuse the president of religious discrimination.
“In essence, it’s a ban directed at Muslims — a clear violation of Constitutional protections against religious discrimination that rolls back our Nation’s long, hard fought battle for greater inclusion,” Nolan said.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), whose Upstate New York district broke narrowly for Trump, was among the Democrats saying the order simply made no sense.
“If the president wants to keep out dangerous terrorists, I’m all for it, but shutting out people for their faith and guys who risked their lives fighting with us in Iraq is clumsy and stupid and shows Trump is just winging it,” said Maloney.
And freshman Democrats whose districts got more blue in 2016 — but still voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton — focused both on the morality of the executive order and its impracticality.
“It ignores our real national security needs and has created chaos at our nation’s airports,” said Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.).
“Two of my constituents, who have been green cardholders for the last five years, and are in the process of applying for their citizenship, were detained for roughly eight hours in Chicago,” said Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.). “Both are in wheelchairs, and one is legally blind. We can develop a better policy than this.”
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), who like Rosen bucked the Republican tide and captured a seat for the Democrats, harked back to his own family’s experience.
“Like many Americans, my family immigrated here not long ago; my wife’s grandparents came to the United States after fleeing the Holocaust,” Gottheimer said. “So, we’ve seen that a blanket ban on any people undermines our national character and risks making us less safe by turning people around the world against us.”
While many of these Democrats will appear on the GOP’s 2018 target list, none was willing to endorse the Trump policy. By contrast, many of the 23 Republicans in districts that voted for Clinton put out statements criticizing the policy.
Early Monday afternoon, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released an early list of 35 districts they may target to take back control of the House. They included the 23 Clinton/Republican seats, 10 seats where the margin was close, and the soon-to-be open seats of Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.). In a combative response memo, the National Republican Congressional Committee noted that in the 23 Clinton/Republican seats, the average member had been reelected by double digits.