HARTFORD, CT — Outside the Connecticut Convention Center a dozen Democrats gathered to hold signs with messages like “Impeach Now.”
One of the progressives from East Hartford, Dan Durso, said he hopes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gets a glimpse of the message or at the very least Connecticut’s Congressional delegation takes the hint.
Pelosi was at the Connecticut Convention Center on Friday for the Democratic Party’s John Bailey Dinner — the party’s largest fundraiser of the year. An estimated 1,000 Democrats showed up for the $200-per-ticket event.
And even though Pelosi maintained her position against impeachment, she gave more progressive Democrats hope for future action.
“We want to legislate, investigate, and litigate,” Pelosi said, referring to what she felt was the mandate after the 2018 election.
She said when it comes to legislation they want to protect children and pass background checks for gun purchases. She mentioned paycheck fairness and lowering prescription drug prices as other legislative priorities.
She said these pieces of legislation have a life of their own and she joked that Sen. Mitch McConnell, who nicknamed himself the Grim Reaper, will be hearing about them soon.
Former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said it only makes sense that Pelosi might be holding back more progressive legislation because there are no plans for the U.S. Senate to take up any of these measures.
“I understand the reasoning,” Malloy said.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney said he doesn’t believe Pelosi is withholding any big progressive ideas.
He said funding for the gun violence prevention passed the House for the first time in 20 years, and legislation to help Blue Water Navy veterans passed for the first time in 17 years. Courtney said that just like with any Congress it took time to stand the committees up and get legislation marked up and through the process.
“I think people are a lot more pragmatic that it’s not one single change and we’ve got a lot more work to do with the Senate in 2020,” Courtney said.
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who introduced Pelosi, said she held the Democratic caucus “united in the face of an obstructionist president.”
She said they are facing a “lawless administration” that is trying to keep the Democratic agenda from the people.
Pelosi pointed out that the freshman class elected in 2018 has been “transformative” and at least 18 wield gavels on subcommittees.
“But we also must investigate to defend our democracy and hold the president accountable,” Pelosi said. “This is very serious and we should have our strongest hand.”
She said the House investigations are breaking through President Donald Trumps “criminal cover up.”
She said they are awaiting court decisions that say Congressional subpoenas must be obeyed.
“Lock him up,” the crowd chanted.
There are 72 members of the House Democratic caucus calling for impeachment inquiries against Trump, according to CNN, but none of them are from Connecticut.
Pelosi said the House has to send a strong message to the Senate “when we get the facts.”
She said when they get those facts they will “honor our oath of office. We will hold the president accountable.”
She said they will make it clear what the Senate is doing if they fail to honor their oath of office when the facts are available.
“In the Congress, in the courts, in the court of public opinion we will defend our democracy,” Pelosi said.
With three high-ranking Democrats either speaking or receiving awards, the event was dubbed “The Night of the Nancys.” Aside from Pelosi’s keynote speech, the event was emceed by former Lt. Governor and current state Democratic Party chair Nancy Wyman. And Trumbull resident Nancy DiNardo, the former state Democratic Party Chairwoman, received the party’s highest award for service.
Gov. Ned Lamont told Pelosi that state Democrats are proud of her work standing up for party values.
“Every time we see you fighting for us in Washington we’re reminded every day why we’re Democrats and why we’re proud to be Democrats,” Lamont said.
He asked for Pelosi’s help in the national gun-safety effort, including on safe gun storage legislation like the one passed in Connecticut with the help of Kristin and Michael Song, who were in attendance Friday, and an expansion of Connecticut’s recently approved ban on so-called untraceable ghost guns.