Statement from Rep. Peter DeFazio on President Trump's First State of the Union Address
“Tonight, President Trump declared that, after his first year in office, his administration has made our nation a safer, stronger, and prouder America. Instead, I heard a speech short on policy and long on platitudes and props, one that outlined the many ways that the Trump administration and their irresponsible policies are hurting American workers, seniors, children, and families.
“Over the past year, President Trump has made it harder for millions of working families to get ahead. While Republicans tout their recently-passed tax bill as a win for middle class families, it is in actuality a massive giveaway to corporations and America’s very wealthiest. Meanwhile, in 2019 more than 9 million middle class families will face a tax increase because of this bill. The tax plan also blows a colossal hole in our national debt in order to pay for the enormous tax breaks for corporations and wealthy investors, which puts critical entitlement programs at risk—Speaker Ryan has already said that in order to balance the deficit created by the tax plan, Republicans will seek to make drastic cuts to Medicare and Social Security, putting millions of senior’s livelihoods in jeopardy and endangering the futures of millions who will one day benefit from these programs.
“To add insult to injury, this bill encourages major corporations to outsource their jobs to our foreign competitors—despite President Trump calling himself the ultimate job creator. Since passage of the Republican tax plan, more than 30,000 layoffs have been announced from major companies across the nation.
“This is not the only instance of President Trump failing the American worker—prior to taking office, he repeatedly promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the disastrous trade deal that has decimated American manufacturing and sent hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs overseas. While the Trump administration has taken steps to improve our nation’s unfair trade policies with our partners, in particular Chinese and Canadian subsidies into our hardwood and softwood industries, we have not seen enough commitment from this administration to push for a new NAFTA agreement that protects not only our workers but our environment, consumer safety, and U.S. sovereignty.
“Tonight we heard President Trump applaud the repeal of a critical pillar of the Affordable Care Act–a move expected to leave more than 13 million Americans without health insurance coverage and raise premiums by ten percent. I have never said that the Affordable Care Act was a perfect bill, but these heartless cuts to coverage will do nothing but take our country back to the days when the number one cause of bankruptcy for Americans was medical costs from catastrophic injury or unexpected illness. While Republicans spent endless hours laser-focused on undoing President Obama’s signature achievement, they left critical safety net programs including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Community Health Centers (CHCs), unfunded for months. Their obsession with repealing the Affordable Care Act has created tremendous instability in the health insurance marketplace, causing premiums to skyrocket, yet they offer no solutions to provide relief to the American families impacted by their partisanship.”
“Tonight, I had hoped that President Trump would provide Congress with his vision for a real, robust plan to invest at least $1 trillion to rebuild our nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, ports, airports, water infrastructure and transit systems. Unfortunately, the President once again delivered a nothing burger, providing only generic talking points without any specific details about how he plans to address our infrastructure crisis.
“As I have repeatedly said, if the Administration wants bipartisan support they must offer an infrastructure plan that strengthens the Federal commitment to our national transportation network by providing sustainable, long-term funding, and filling the crater in the Highway Trust Fund. President Trump cannot pretend to solve our infrastructure woes by slashing real investments to States and local governments, pushing the responsibility off Federal balance sheets, cutting existing transportation programs to pay for Wall Street and foreign investors to toll our roads, and gutting bedrock environmental protections. Regrettably, the Administration’s plan will likely do just that.
“We need to invest in rebuilding America, not sell it off. If the President is serious about developing a bipartisan plan to invest in infrastructure, he needs to forward a plan that both Democrats and Republicans can support.”
“I invited as my guest tonight Jesus Narvaez, a young man from Eugene who is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipient and attends Lane Community College, where he is studying to become a teacher. Jesus is one of millions of immigrants who were brought into the United States through no fault of their own by their parents at a young age and have only known this country as their home. President Trump’s decision to terminate the DACA program is not only heartless, it has thrown millions of lives into turmoil, and if the President does not work with Congress to resolve the issue, young people across the country will be forced to leave behind their families and the only life they have ever known.
“However, there is no question that our current immigration system is broken and that Congress and the president must act to effectively reform the system and secure our borders. Throughout my time in Congress, I have continually fought to restrict individuals from entering the United States who would do our citizens harm—whether it be through terrorist attacks, drug smuggling, or gang violence.While we need smart investments in our border security efforts, a multi-billion dollar wall on our southern border will not stop migrants from entering our country, and it will not stop criminals from smuggling drugs across the border. As new ideas on how to best repair our broken immigration system are put forward in the coming weeks, I will be sure to look carefully at each proposal to ensure that it is both a wise use of our taxpayer dollars and will be a true solution to keep our nation safe from terrorists, drug runners, and gang violence.
“As members of Congress, our number one priority in the coming weeks must be to avert another government shutdown. We cannot run our country on a month-to-month budget—it is not only reckless, but it puts our nation at risk and degrades our military readiness. Defense Secretary Mattis has repeatedly warned against operating our government under a near-constant continuing resolution, saying ‘no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of the U.S. military than…operating in nine of the last 10 years under continuing resolutions.’ President Trump and Speaker Ryan must put forth truly bipartisan solutions that both Republicans and Democrats can rally behind in order to keep our government running smoothly.”
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