Trump gives Rush Limbaugh medal of freedom as Texas Democrat highlights policy wins

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In the State of the Union address Tuesday, an impeached President Trump again made promises on health care he and his GOP colleagues have been unable to deliver on — the same promises made in 2016 about lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

Democrats in the House have delivered on that promise, however—a fact highlighted in the Democratic response by Rep. Veronica Escobar of El Paso following Trump’s rambling 80-minute speech. She walked through the House passage of a bill to reduce prescription drug prices and enacting protections for people with pre-existing conditions. 

“Here in Texas, Republican leaders have refused to lift a finger to improve access to affordable, quality health care,” she noted. “In my state, the expansion of Medicaid would provide care for hundreds of thousands of Texans.”

Never one to downplay drama, Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to right-wing shock jock, Rush Limbaugh, who was sitting in the House gallery. Past vaunted recipients have included the crew of Apollo 13, Mother Teresa, and Ronald Reagan.

“Trump conferred one of the nation’s great civilian honors upon a man who has trafficked in hate and is responsible for some of the most vile degradations of the nation’s political discourse,” Media Matters for America noted in its analysis.

Trump devoted much of his speech to border security and immigration, at one point listing off crime statistics for undocumented immigrants– a dangerous dance that ignores data showing undocumented residents commit less crime than native-born Americans.

At least one member of Congress, Tim Ryan of Ohio, walked out of the speech because, he said, “It’s like watching professional wrestling. It’s all fake.”

Speaking to audiences in Spanish, Rep. Escobar delivered the Democratic response to the president’s remarks late Tuesday night. 

“This is a tragic moment, and Congress must defend our republic,” Escobar said, referring to the ongoing impeachment trial in the Senate. “We Democrats will continue to fight for truth and for what is right. No one is above the law.”

On the economy, she took him to task. 

“President Trump’s economic policies have created inequality that is creating two Americas: one where the wealthiest 1 percent benefit and one that leaves too many farmers, businesses, and working families behind,” Escobar said. “And at the same time, instead of investing in our children’s future and in opportunity, the President has exploded the debt by more than $3 trillion – all to give billion-dollar tax cuts to the wealthiest few.”

In 2019, Escobar led the response to the deadly white terrorist act at an El Paso Walmart. The documented motivation by the gunman was hatred against Latinos. 

“A domestic terrorist confessed to driving over 10 hours to target Mexicans and immigrants,” Escobar said in her remarks. “Just before he began his killing spree, he posted his views online and used hateful language like the very words used by President Trump to describe immigrants and Latinos.”

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

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