February 27, 2017

Sens. Warren and Markey Question Federal Agency Heads About President Trump's Executive Order to Deny Funding to "Sanctuary Jurisdictions"

Senators Ask Whether and How Agency Heads Plan to Implement Clearly Unconstitutional Order That Could Damage Massachusetts

Full text of the letters available here (PDF)

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey on Monday will send a letter to the confirmed or nominated heads of 17 federal grant-making agencies to ask whether and how they intend to comply with President Trump's recent Executive Order directing Administration officials to identify "sanctuary jurisdictions" and to cut off all federal grants to those jurisdictions. In their letter, the senators highlight that the president's order is clearly unconstitutional, and detail the impact this denial of funding would have on Massachusetts.

Warren and Markey note that Massachusetts is among the nation's top three states in terms of per capita federal taxes paid, and one of only eleven states that pay more in federal taxes than they receive. The federal support it does receive is vitally important, and goes "to support health insurance for children, affordable housing for families, nursing care for veterans, and countless other critical programs. By its terms, the President's Executive Order threatens that vital support," the letter states.

Despite the Trump Administration's threats, "local leaders in Massachusetts have indicated that they do not intend to be browbeaten into changing their own laws to suit the whims of the President on matters over which he has no legal authority or control," the senators explain. They cite several examples of Supreme Court precedent indicating that the federal government cannot deny federal funds to states and localities in the coercive manner laid out in President Trump's executive order.

The senators ask whether each agency head will support the president's Executive Order and how they intend to implement the unconstitutional order in light of their sworn obligation to follow the Constitution. The letter will be sent to the following confirmed or nominated agency heads: Secretary-Designate of the Department of Agriculture Governor Sonny Perdue, Secretary-Designate of the Department of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary-Designate of the Department of Energy Governor Rick Perry, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, Secretary-Designate of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Secretary-Designate of the Department of Interior Congressman Ryan Zinke, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary-Designate of the Department of Labor Alexander Acosta, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt, and Administrator of the Small Business Administration Linda McMahon.

PDF copies of all the letters are available here.