California Gov. Jerry Brown will travel to Washington next week for meetings, his first trip to the nation’s capital since the election of President Donald Trump.
Brown, the popular Democratic leader of a state antagonistic to Trump on issues ranging from health care and environmental protections to immigration policy, will attend the meeting of the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s board of directors. More meetings with government leaders and others will be added to Brown’s schedule, the Governor’s Office said Saturday.
Brown’s trip comes amid deep concerns over proposed cuts in the Republican president’s budget blueprint released earlier this week. The spending plan, while serving as a boon for defense and other industries, would disrupt environmental cleanup of toxic waste and shrink National Institutes of Health research programs at the University of California.
Next week’s trip will mark Brown’s first meeting of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit group that works to prevent attacks with weapons of mass destruction, since joining its board of directors in January. The organization was founded in 2001 by media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner and former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia, the co-chair and chief executive.
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Trump is rolling back rules to limit greenhouse gases from cars, putting his administration on a collision course with standards launched in California and later adopted by the Obama administration. That came after the Trump administration last month delayed approval of a $650 million federal grant planned for CalTrain’s electrification, a project critics have tied up with the governor’s high-speed rail system opposed by all 14 members of the state’s Republican congressional delegation.
Brown, who in a series of statements and speeches has pledged to protect the state’s varied interests, has nonetheless remained optimistic about working with Trump on a massive infrastructure spending package.
Last year, amid the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, Brown sat for panels on nuclear dangers hosted by the Atlantic Council and Global Zero. Earlier, he joined former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry and U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, experts who helped mold his views on the subject, at a Doomsday Clock event.
Ellen Tauscher, a board member and former California congresswoman who has spoken at length with Brown about the nuclear arms race and its dangers, said she expects Brown, already a respected voice on the threat of climate change, to lead on what he views as another existential problem.
“He’s had a very successful governorship, and that political leverage, plus the sense that he is a policy wonk, is enormously effective in helping us move the dial,” Tauscher, the former U.S. under secretary for arms control and international security, said of Brown’s participation in the group.
Tauscher said Brown’s interest in nuclear weapons, and how close the world is to catastrophe, have manifested in long weekend phone conversations.
“With people that have done some reading and are interested, you’re at a first and second order of magnitude conversation, generally,” she said. “With Jerry, you’re at the fifth or sixth level because he has read not one or two things – he’s read everything. And he’s talked to the top scientists.
“He’s much more like an insider.”