Hassan Back With Early Reviews

  • U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., is greeted by Claremont Mayor Charlene Lovett and City Manager Ryan McNutt while arriving at River Valley Community College in Claremont, N.H., on February 22, 2017. Hassan made several stops in the state after her first two months in the Senate. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., left, speaks with physical therapy students Kasey Jardine, of Keene, N.H., Deb Wright, of Gilsum, N.H., and Lizanne Molind, of Bow, N.H., while visiting their class at River Valley Community College in Claremont, N.H., on February 22, 2017. Hassan made several stops in the state after her first two months in the Senate. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., made several stops in the area upon her return to New Hampshire, following her first two months in the Senate. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/22/2017 11:51:41 PM
Modified: 2/22/2017 11:51:49 PM

Claremont — Back in New Hampshire on a weeklong legislative recess, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan on Wednesday struck a tone of moderated opposition to President Donald Trump.

Hassan, the state’s former governor and a Democrat who narrowly defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte in November, expressed concern about Trump’s immigration crackdown and some of his cabinet picks, but left the door open to cooperate with the president.

“I certainly have been concerned about the qualifications and perspectives of a number of the president’s nominees, so where I’ve thought it’s been essential to stand up and make my concerns known … I certainly have done that,” she said after a visit to River Valley Community College in Claremont.

“I also am wanting to make sure that, where there are areas of agreement and where I can work with the administration, I make that clear too,” Hassan said.

New Hampshire’s new senator voted against many of Trump’s most controversial cabinet picks, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Hassan, whose adult son has cerebral palsy, noted that during confirmation hearings she sharply questioned DeVos on the then-nominee’s stance toward the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a federal law mandating equal access to education for students with disabilities.

She noted that she has supported others, however, among them Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Hassan said those nominees, most of them in national security fields, had “shown the capacity to stand up to the president and exercise independent judgment where necessary.”

Hassan, who in 2015 was the first Democratic governor to join Republicans in calling for a pause in resettlement of Syrian refugees for security reasons, said she was concerned about the civil rights implications of Trump’s early moves on immigration.

Those have included a temporary travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries and, as of this week, a set of expanded enforcement efforts that target millions of unauthorized immigrants with criminal records both extensive and minor.

“It’s clear we need to do more to strengthen our borders, but we absolutely have to uphold our American values as we do that,” Hassan said. “So I am very concerned that there be due process protections in place that protect our American values.”

She added that the ongoing debate over immigration made it even more important for both parties to cooperate on a long-delayed comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Hassan said she had spent a good deal of her first month and a half in Washington advocating against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

“I think we all agree that we need to make improvements to the Affordable Care Act,” Hassan said.

But she also said abolishing it would hurt the roughly 50,000 New Hampshire residents now benefiting from expanded Medicaid under the law. “Repealing it would be devastating, and it would also be devastating to the workforce here in New Hampshire and to our economy.”

Hassan came to Claremont on Wednesday afternoon to tour River Valley’s job training facilities in the STEM fields and health care.

The junior senator did not run into the same militancy from constituents that many other legislators have seen lately during visits home between sessions — except for a brief encounter toward the end of the event.

After posing for photos with school administrators, Hassan was introduced to Trisha Schuman, a biomedical science student who said she was starting a club to organize opposition against Trump.

Schuman called her nascent group a chapter of “Indivisible,” referring to a widely circulated guide made by former congressional staffers that uses Tea Party tactics to coordinate resistance to Trump.

Part of Schuman’s goal, she said to Hassan, will be “to try to get you to start fighting Trump,” or, she added, “continue fighting Trump.”

Later in the day, Hassan made stops at Creare, an engineering company in Hanover, and at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction.

Rob Wolfe can be reached at rwolfe@vnews.com or at 603-727-3242.




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