Patty Murray, first elected in 1992, is not only No. 3 in senate Democratic leadership, she’s the ranking Dem on the committee vetting three of Trump’s cabinet nominees. Of keen interest to Seattle? Trump’s choice for labor, fast food CEO Andrew Puzder, who’s against raising the minimum wage—which contradicts Trump’s working class campaign rhetoric. “Puzder,” she says, “nickel-and-dimed his own workers.”
Senator Murray will ask nominees to state exactly what their policies will be. “I think it will give people pause,” and challenge Republicans to “affirm that this is really what they want.”
Speaking of cross-examining cabinet nominees, there isn’t a better inquisitor than Maria Cantwell, first elected in 2000. The senator tore apart bank bailout architect Timothy Geithner in 2009. As the top Democrat on the energy committee, Cantwell already sent a letter to Trump, questioning former Texas governor Rick Perry as the pick to head the Department of Energy. She condemned the “hostile” questionnaire Trump sent to Energy Department employees, which environmentalists read as the precursor to an agency purge. “I will not allow this to happen,” Cantwell warned.
Washington’s measured voice from the Seattle suburbs, U.S. representative Suzan DelBene, is serene compared to Cantwell. But her mellow style is disarming. As one of the Democrat dissidents on the Republican-led committee investigating Planned Parenthood, she outed the GOP’s “made-up data” about the health organization, and is prepared to go to the mat for choice. DelBene says she’s committed to pointing out “any falsehoods” to make sure Trump’s untruths are “in the public’s mind.”
“After Trump won,” says newly elected U.S. representative Pramila Jayapal, then pauses. “Well, after he won the electoral college,” his campaign talk about investing in jobs “turned into giving tax breaks to corporations.” As the founder of immigrants’ rights group OneAmerica—with a spot as vice chair of the house progressive caucus—Jayapal says she’ll articulate values that contrast with the new president. She got an early start. In December, she persuaded all the Democrats in the delegation, plus governor Jay Inslee, to sign a statement declaring Washington a “Hate Free State” and pledging to defend our minority communities.