Coons sees ‘positive’ signs from Trump since election

Chris Coons

Chris Coons

DOVER — While federal appropriations bills appear stalled for the time being, Dover Air Force Base will still receive money for two important construction projects.

President-elect Donald Trump and leading congressional Republicans have opposed finishing this year’s appropriations process, meaning Congress will resort to continuing resolutions to keep the government running. Fortunately for Delaware, however, the military construction bill has already been signed into law, meaning $83 million has been allocated for the base.

The passage of the bill allows the work on the base’s new hangar and school to continue, according to Delaware’s junior senator.

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat, said that guarantee provides a measure of stability as America undergoes a transition in the federal government, with Republican Donald Trump replacing President Barack Obama in January.

Sen. Coons said he has been encouraged by several remarks made by the highly controversial President-elect Trump since his Nov. 8 victory, and he remains hopeful the nation’s 45th chief executive will be a “president for all Americans,” as the president-elect remarked in his victory speech.

President Obama said after the election he will work with the president-elect to help him succeed, comments applauded by Sen. Coons.

The senator, who in September called the Republican nominee “a Cheeto-faced, short-fingered vulgarian,” said the incoming president has shown respect for the “peaceful transition” of power.

“I think in the immediate aftermath of the election we’ve see and heard what we’d hope for,” Sen. Coons said.

Mr. Trump had said he might not accept the results of the election if he lost.

The 115th Congress begins Jan. 3, and Sen. Coons expects the landmark Affordable Care Act to be repealed soon after.

“The question I think they will and America should face is what will they replace it with, because they’ve campaigned on repeal and replace, and there are 20 million Americans now getting their health care through the Affordable Care Act,” he said of Republican decision-makers.

Repealing the ACA, also known as Obamacare, without a replacement could lead to 10,000 or more Delawareans losing coverage.

This election cycle has seen an increase in racial animosity across the nation and a seeming rise of white nationalism — even reaching into, critics say, the president-elect’s inner circle.

Sen. Coons called President-elect Trump’s decision to name as his chief strategist Steve Bannon, the former editor of the conservative outlet Breitbart News, “very troubling.”

Scenes from a white supremacist gathering in Washington have made the rounds over the past week, and to Sen. Coons, that’s “a troubling reminder that there are some in this country who vote Trump’s election as a victory from a racist or unfortunately anti-Semitic standpoint.”

While many have charged the incoming president himself has made insulting racial remarks, Sen. Coons said President-elect Trump has “rejected that view” of white nationalism and he cheered public comments the Republican made. On “60 Minutes” six days after the election, President-elect Trump told Americans not to resort to violence, either in elation or frustration, over the outcome.

Sen. Coons is further encouraged by some of the Republican’s picks for key posts, such as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as United Nations ambassador. Gov. Haley had denounced Mr. Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is being considered for secretary of state, is another positive choice in Sen. Coons’ eyes.

“The idea that he could include a broader range of Republicans in his administration and that he could look past some of the fights and slights of the campaign is encouraging,” Sen. Coons said.

The 2012 GOP presidential nominee, Gov. Romney was critical of Mr. Trump during the election process.

Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, an Alabama senator, has worked alongside Sen. Coons for years. Although the Democrat noted the two have partnered to help pass important legislation, he also said Sen. Sessions “has said and done things in our time together on the Judiciary Committee that make it clear to me that we have different values and priorities when it comes to immigration, civil values and civil liberties.”

As U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, the Republican was chosen by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to be a federal judge, but the Senate Judiciary Committee defeated the nomination.

Both Sen. Coons and Delaware’s senior member of the Senate, Democrat Tom Carper, have championed bipartisanship and said they plan to work with President-elect Trump.

In several recent statements, Sen. Carper has questioned the selection of Gen. Michael Flynn as national security advisor and requested the Office of Government Ethics Director detail how it plans to ensure President-elect Trump, a billionaire with worldwide business dealings, does not face conflicts of interest.

Gen. Flynn, Sen. Carper said, has made “troubling” comments about Islam. In a speech earlier this year, Gen. Flynn called Islam a “cancer” and compared it to Nazism.

“President-elect Trump has vowed to be a president for all Americans, but, with his selection of General Flynn, I don’t think he is making good on that promise,” Sen. Carper said, although he also stated he hopes the general “recognizes the error of his ways and takes a more thoughtful, constructive approach in dealing with the complex challenges we face moving forward.”

Sen. Coons aspires to work with Republicans if they are willing to help create a “responsible path forward.”

While Republicans control the White House and both chambers of Congress, Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the presidential election, pulling in about 2 million more votes.

In Sen. Coons’ eyes, that’s a convincing argument that the GOP should be willing to listen those on the other side.

“Trump’s election is not a mandate to ignore the majority of the folks who voted for his opponent,” he said.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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