Weekly Columns

The State of the Union

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For Immediate Release, January 13, 2016 | Tiffany Haverly (202-226-8072) | comments

Tuesday evening President Obama delivered his final State of the Union address. This speech was different than other State of the Union addresses given by President Obama because he didn’t really get deep into any specific policy proposals or ask Congress to act. In this year’s address, like those in the past, the president said some things I agreed with and also some things I disagreed with.

The president did call on Congress to put partisan politics aside and work together, which we all agree with. Unfortunately, it takes two to tango. I’ve joined with House Republicans to pass a number of substantive proposals to reduce taxes, cut red tape and grow our economy. Still, for much of the president’s second term, his response, more often than not, has been to go at it alone through executive actions instead of engaging Congress and working to find common ground. The president’s rhetoric doesn’t match reality. In his speech, President Obama discussed cutting red tape, which received a standing ovation, but this administration has continuously proposed rules and regulations that would create more government bureaucracy and red tape.

On Wednesday morning, the morning after the president’s State of the Union speech, the House voted to stop the administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule, known as WOTUS. The WOTUS rule expands the definition of a tributary, adding things like ditches, and could keep people from using water resources on their own property. WOTUS doesn’t just overreach and try to regulate things that are nearly impossible to regulate; it creates uncertainty by leaving several key questions up to interpretation, causing more uncertainty for people who rely on water to support their businesses, like farmers and ranchers, opening them up to micromanagement from the Environmental Protection Agency. To deal with the out-of-control regulations coming out of the administration, the House passed the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act last July. The REINS Act, which received bipartisan support, would require the executive branch to send a rule or regulation with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more to Congress for an up or down vote.

The president gave a hopeful message about curing cancer. This is an issue near and dear to my heart. There are 10,000 known conditions and diseases, but we only have cures and treatments for 500 of them. Did you know that it takes 15 years for a new drug to move from a lab to a patient? This is too long for patients who are sick and suffering, and I agree wholeheartedly that we must take steps to cure devastating diseases like cancer. What the president didn’t mention, however, is that just last year the House passed bipartisan legislation, the 21st Century Cures Act, to modernize clinical trials, encourage critical collaboration and information sharing while protecting patient privacy and provide important resources to support research and bring real-world, patient-centered approaches to treating and curing disease. If the president is serious about curing cancer, he should encourage the Senate to take up the 21st Century Cures Act and promise to sign the bill into law.

One of the most important things the president touched on is our economy. I was disappointed to hear the president downplay the serious economic issues our country is facing right now. If the president thinks the economy is rebounding, I’d ask him to take a ride through Southwest Virginia and the coal fields of Kentucky to see what his red tape has done the Appalachian region. The truth is: people are still struggling to make ends meet, and the president’s failed economic policies aren’t helping – they are hurting.

Regarding our national security, it was staggering to me that the president used his speech to tout his Iran nuclear agreement at the same time Iran had taken ten American sailors captive. The president also mentioned the need to protect Americans from the growing threat of terrorism around the world, but the simple fact is many of our enemies feel emboldened. The world is taking note of the president’s failed leadership on the world stage. ISIS has continued to expand their influence, and the threat they pose is real. While the president acknowledged that terrorism poses a threat to our people, he still has not proposed a comprehensive strategy to combat and defeat terrorist organizations around the world. Still, I stand ready to work with the president to keep our country safe from these threats.

I hope the president meant what he said about working together to get things done, but that would mean listening to other points of view and working through our disagreements. President Obama didn’t sound like a president who was willing to do that on Tuesday night, but if he’s serious, let’s get to work. 

Feel free to contact my office if I can be of assistance. 
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