In a speech delivered from the White House, President Donald Trump asked the nation’s mayors for cooperation.
“We are here today to strengthen the bond of cooperation between the federal and local governments so that we can deliver great jobs, excellent schools, affordable healthcare, and safe communities for all of our people,” said Trump.
As part of the United States Conference of Mayors 88th winter meeting in Washington, Trump spoke to a gathering of mayors on Jan. 24 in a crowded East Room.
He spoke about the recent progress made in trade deal negotiations, reduction of national unemployment rates, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE’s) efforts in removing MS-13 gang members from the country.
However, Trump also acknowledged further work is necessary to increase safety in cities and local communities. The opioid crisis is another issue that has seen some progress but still requires continual attention, he said.
He also emphasized the need to improve cooperation between local and federal governments in the area of law enforcement and public safety.
“I urge all of you here today to cooperate fully with federal law enforcement. We’re all on the same team. I think that’s the biggest point; we’re all on the same team. We want to have safety,” said Trump.
He continued, “and, you—some have sanctuary cities, but even if you do have sanctuary cities, we want to be able to work together, because tremendous differences in crime numbers can happen, and it has been happening.”
In line with the message of the need for increased measures to ensure public safety, President Trump, at the end of his speech, signed H.R. 2476, Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act of 2019.
This resolution will appropriate $75 million per year, for the next five years, to protect houses of worship and other nonprofits from terrorist attacks. Through the establishment of a Nonprofit Security Grant Program, eligible nonprofit organizations can apply for grants to improve security measures and protect against possible terrorist attacks.
Before the meeting with Trump, the United States Conference of Mayors held a 3-day conference to discuss their goals and visions for the United States in 2020. Participating mayors held panels during which they discussed various issues, including infrastructure, healthcare, immigration, safety, jobs, gun control, and more.
Contrary to Trump’s emphasis on the need for local and federal government cooperation, many mayors cited a lack of dependability and partnership from the federal government.
Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, Ohio, and Second Vice President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors explained in a Jan. 22 press conference that the Conference of Mayors was founded during a time when “there was great inaction,” so the nation’s mayors came together to advocate for partnership and action.
“We continue to have frustration from the lack of partnership we see from this city [Washington, D.C.]. We continue to call for action around gun violence prevention, around opioid epidemics, around vast inequality in our communities,” said Whaley.
Bryan Barnett, mayor of Rochester Hills, Michigan, and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors stated that the mayors have collaborated on a plan for America’s future, “centered around our three I’s of infrastructure, innovation, and inclusion.”
Given the emphasis on infrastructure throughout the mayors’ press conference, a member of the press questioned the mayors about the tax and cost concerns that come with infrastructure and where the funding would come from for such large-scale projects.
“Here’s the deal, we never want that [cost] to end the discussion, because we know that there’s a very complicated answer to some of those things. But what I would tell you is that the men and women behind me have implemented local solutions to many of these [problems] by finding innovative ways to fund many of these initiatives,” answered Barnett.
The United States Conference of Mayors’ 88th winter meeting was held from Jan. 22 to 24.
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