Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) revealed on Wednesday that he will be using President Donald Trump’s visit to Dayton, Ohio as an opportunity to give the president a list of demands face-to-face, including expanding government-run health care.
“I spent much of yesterday wrestling with the right thing to do when President Trump visits Dayton today,” Brown said in a statement. “I decided I have a responsibility to Ohioans to use this opportunity to look the President in the eye and urge him to do the right thing.”
Trump confirmed a day prior that he will be traveling to Dayton to pay his respects to first responders, law enforcement officers, and victims of a mass shooting that occurred over the weekend. A gunman took the lives of nine people and injured more than 30 others after he opened fire on a crowd outside of a bar early Sunday morning.
Following what Trump referred to as an “unspeakable act of evil,” the president addressed the nation, calling for bipartisan cooperation on determining a potential solution to a recent slew of mass shootings.
The president also urged reform of America’s mental health laws, which he contended would not only better identify the “mentally disturbed individuals” who may commit future acts of violence, but would also treat them prior to any violent incidents occur.
“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger,” Trump said. “Not the gun.”
“I will tell the President [when he comes to Dayton that] if he is serious about supporting mental health, he must support Medicaid expansion and [the] Affordable Care Act that provide care for so many,” Brown responded in his statement.
The president, however, has long opposed both Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” in favor of more private and competitive options. Brown’s office refused to comment when asked if the senator believes expanding governmental health programs is the only way to support mental health reform.
Brown, a vocal critic of the president, also stated that he will demand that Trump tell Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring the Senate back into session and subsequently vote on “gun safety” legislation. Brown is seemingly referring to H.R. 8, a bill requiring background checks for firearm sales between private parties, that recently passed in the House.
The Ohio senator reversed his decision to meet with the president in Dayton after he had initially declined the opportunity.
“We are also angry — angry that shooting after shooting politicians in Washington and Columbus refuse to pass sensible gun-safety laws to protect our communities,” Brown tweeted on Sunday. “We are still learning about the attack in Dayton and we don’t know exactly what, if anything could have prevented this specific tragedy. But we know thoughts and prayers are not enough, we have a responsibility to act.”
“I don’t have any interest because of what he’s done on this, total unwillingness to address the issue of guns, his racist rhetoric,” Brown said during a Sirius XM radio interivew on Tuesday. “I don’t know what he’s going to say and do there. I mean, I welcome him to the state in some sense, but not about this.”
Brown was mulling over his own presidential run in 2020 due to his successful track record in the Rust Belt, a region that largely helped elect Trump in 2016. While Trump edged out Hillary Clinton by eight points in Ohio, Brown beat out his Republican challenger in the 2018 midterm election by just over six points. Moreover, he was the only Democrat to win statewide election in 2018, aside from judicial candidates.