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Statement from Rep. Peter DeFazio on the State of the Union Address

Feb 4, 2020
Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio today released the following statement in response to President Trump’s State of the Union address:

“Tonight, we heard President Trump lay out his lopsided vision for America: An America where corporations and the very wealthiest can succeed while working families are left behind. He touted an agenda he calls “relentlessly pro-worker, pro-family, pro-growth, and pro-American,” but nothing could be further from the truth: From forcing through a tax scam that gave a massive handout to corporations and blew a hole in our national deficit, to cutting food stamps, to working to strip healthcare coverage from millions of Americans, he has implemented policies that hurt, not help, working families.

Allowing Pharmaceutical Companies to Price-Gouge Working Families and Dismantling the Affordable Care Act

Tonight, we heard the president call for a bipartisan bill to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Any such legislation must finally allow Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices. I’ve long supported legislation that would allow the government to negotiate fair prices for prescription drugs and agree that something must be done to rein in the greed of the pharmaceutical companies. For decades, these corporations have price-gouged consumers over life-saving medications—often developed with taxpayer dollars. That’s why I’ve introduced the Affordable Pricing for Taxpayer-Funded Prescription Drugs Act, which would require the federal government to negotiate fair prices for these drugs. Americans should not pay to develop a drug only to see it put on the shelves in the U.S. at a much higher price than other nations.

Meanwhile, President Trump has actively worked to dismantle healthcare access for those who need it most by championing policies that would increase premiums, gut protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions, and strip insurance coverage from 23 million Americans. While I have always said that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not perfect, to repeal the ACA without any comprehensive plan to replace it would be devastating for millions of Americans.

Failing to Act on the Threat of Climate Change

At a time when we need transformational solutions to address the dire urgency of the climate crisis, President Trump and Congressional Republicans continue to willfully ignore its reality. From rolling back dozens of environmental protections to removing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement to referring to climate change as a ‘hoax’, President Trump has shown that he is a dangerous impediment to substantive action against climate change. I am an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal and have pushed for significant investments, particularly in our transportation sector, that will unlock eco-friendly technologies, reduce carbon emissions, and forge a path toward a fossil fuel-free future.

Failing to Invest in 21st Century Infrastructure

President Trump barely mentioned the need to invest in our communities and help regular Americans by rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. That is incredibly disappointing, because the reality is that three years into his administration, President Trump has yet to put forth a single new idea that would fix our roads, bridges, ports, airports, water infrastructure, and transit systems or show any leadership on how our country funds significant infrastructure investment. Instead, the president promised more funding for his ineffective, pointless border wall than for our nation’s massive infrastructure needs. This is a tremendous missed opportunity.

 

As Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I’ve unveiled a framework for a five-year, $760 billion investment to address our country’s most urgent infrastructure needs, from tackling our growing maintenance backlog, to designing safer streets, to putting the U.S. on a path toward zero emissions and increasing resiliency. This framework is the launchpad we need to create millions of jobs while curbing carbon pollution and building smarter and safer infrastructure that meets the needs of a 21st century economy.

Promoting Outsourcing & Pro-polluter, Climate-Denying Trade Policies

We heard President Trump tout the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as a successful replacement for twenty-five years of failed NAFTA trade policies. However, the USMCA will not bring back the hundreds of thousands of jobs that were to lost Mexico and will not stop the hemorrhaging of American jobs to Mexico. This deal also continues to promote the same old pro-polluter, climate-denying policies that reward corporations for outsourcing their pollution to Mexico. As I did under NAFTA, I will continue to push for robust oversight and enforcement of the USMCA’s labor and environmental standards, as weak as they are. I will also continue to fight for a truly transformative deal that sets a new, higher standard for 21st century trade agreements.

Making Quality Education Unattainable

America’s students are struggling to compete in our globalized economy, and I firmly believe that if we do not invest in them now, we will pay later. Tonight, the president proposed we divert much-needed taxpayer dollars from public education to private schools. I am strongly opposed to using taxpayer dollars to fund private education. Currently, only eight percent of public education funds come from the federal government, and with the current squeeze on education funding at the local, state and federal levels, I cannot support using those scant resources to fund private school tuition—especially when it comes at the expense of other students.

Rolling Back Clean Water Protections

Access to clean water ought to be a right, not a privilege. However, President Trump has imperiled that access by rolling back clean water protections and threatening drinking water for more than 117 million Americans—a gift to industry at the expense of the American people. To underscore the danger of cutting critical regulations and putting polluters ahead of people, my guest to the State of the Union was Joe Moll with the McKenzie River Trust in Eugene. Joe knows firsthand the perils of rolling back clean water protections. The fact is anyone who likes to fish or swim in their local lakes and streams or who wants clean drinking water should be alarmed by this administration's priorities.

 

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