If there is a worst-case-scenario for Philadelphia’s finances under the Trump administration, City Council wants to know. So Council President Darrell L. Clarke moved Thursday to hold a hearing at which, he said, Council will go “one by one” through the potential impacts on the city’s budget.
Coupled with potential cuts from legislators in Harrisburg, Clarke said, the loss of revenue could be severe.
“I take [President Trump] at his word. And I take those individuals in Harrisburg at their word,” Clarke said. “So the likelihood we’re going to have some significant fiscal challenges as we move ahead is real. But what we need to do is prepare.”
As the Trump agenda and administration take shape, Clarke said, he sees no evidence the president cares about Philadelphia, saying his cabinet picks have been particularly telling.
“I don’t get a sense that he cares. … You’re talking about an individual who is going to be the attorney general who, frankly speaking, has always been against civil rights,” Clarke said of Trump’s nominee for the post, Jeff Sessions. “How do you think I feel as an African American in the city of Philadelphia?”
Trump moved Wednesday to pull federal grants from "sanctuary cities" that do not cooperate with federal immigration officials, of which Philadelphia is one. Mayor Kenney, in response, said he had no plans to change the city’s immigration policy, saying that Trump did not specify which funds he would target and that the city would avail itself of “every opportunity we have to protect our citizens and protect our people who are living in our city.”
Clarke’s was not the only Trump-related action by Council on Thursday. Councilwoman Cindy Bass introduced a resolution to hold hearings on how the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would affect the city. And Councilwoman Helen Gym introduced a resolution upholding the city’s support for Muslims, in light of Trump’s plans to suspend refugee and visa programs for several Muslim countries.
“We will not accept the anti-Islamic rhetoric that contributes to bias, violence and harassment, of attacks against women in hijabs and a climate of fear and suspicion that surrounds our Muslim neighbors,” Gym said at a news conference Thursday morning, standing with four other Council members and several leaders of the local Muslim community.
Not everyone on Council, though, is upset over Trump's first few days in office.
"I think he’s hit the ground running," said Brian O'Neill, one of Council's three Republicans. "He said he was going to do these things. Everybody said, oh, he’s disorganized. He doesn’t seem that disorganized to me."