State of the Union Addressby Senator John Barrasso
Posted on 2015-01-21
BARRASSO. Mr. President, last night the President delivered the
State of the Union Address. So it was interesting to hear the acting
minority leader talking about homeland security, budgeting for homeland
security. I know the Presiding Officer, through his service to our
Nation overseas, wearing a uniform, keeping us safe, keeping us free--
the Presiding Officer has concerns, as do I, about what we heard last
It was interesting to hear some of the commentary after the President's speech as we talk about securing the homeland and what it means for the American public. Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC, ``I think that on foreign policy his''--meaning President Obama's--``projection of success against terrorism and against ISIS, in particular, is not close to reality.'' The President of the United States, ``not close to reality.'' I have just come back from a trip to the Middle East, been to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel. I concur with Andrea Mitchell; that on the specifics of the President's assessment of success against terrorism and against ISIS, this President ``is not close to reality.'' So Republicans are going to continue to bring forth the issues to the American people of what reality is like in the world, in spite of the way the President may address it, because of the specific failures of this President and his foreign policy.
It is interesting. Last night in the State of the Union Address, the President started by saying that ``the state of the Union is strong.'' The state of our Union is strong. But President Obama mistakenly took credit for that strength. He implied it was because of his policies, because of his actions. On that point this President could not have gotten it more wrong. The state of our Union is strong because of the strength of the American people.
Americans are resilient. Americans are hardworking. In the November elections, the American people showed they can act decisively. It is interesting, this morning's headline, New York Times: ``Staunchly Liberal Wish List Brushes Off G.O.P.'s Gains.'' Headline, New York Times, bright, bold, above the fold. ``Staunchly Liberal Wish List Brushes off G.O.P.'s Gains.'' So we are a resilient nation. People know what they believe. They know how they feel. They voted those beliefs. When the American people chose Republicans to lead both Houses of Congress, they said clearly they wanted change, a change from Barack Obama, a change from the direction he has been taking this country. People want Democrats to start working with Republicans to get things done.
The American people said in the November elections they are tired of the gridlock, they are tired of the dysfunction, tired of Democrats running the Senate to protect their own jobs and not caring about the jobs of middle-class Americans.
President Obama had a great opportunity last night, an opportunity to show that he understands what Americans have been telling him. Instead he went out and he gave the same speech he always gives. It was a partisan attack on Republicans and the Americans who voted to put the Republicans in charge in the House and in the Senate.
It is interesting listening to the commentary after the speech. Wolf Blitzer, CNN, said, ``I don't remember a State of the Union address where I heard a President issue so many veto threats to the opposite party in the Congress.'' So we have Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC, saying that in terms of foreign policy the President's views ``are not close to reality.'' CNN, Wolf Blitzer, ``I do not remember a State of the Union address where I heard a President issue so many veto threats to the opposite party in the United States Congress,'' especially when it is at a time, as the New York Times point out, of GOP gains in the elections, the President specifically ignoring what has happened across this country in the November elections. President Obama seems to have missed the November elections entirely.
Republicans know we have an obligation to the American people to deliver effective, efficient, and accountable government. We have an opportunity and an obligation to put Americans first. Last night President Obama showed he still wants to put Washington first. Republicans are not willing to help this President continue down the same wrong road that the American people have rejected. Let's be honest. This past election was a rejection election, rejecting the policies of this President, this administration.
We are charting a new course and a better direction. We are already making progress. The Senate is working like it has not worked in years. We are debating actual legislation, laying on the floor the Keystone Pipeline jobs [[Page S305]] bill. We are allowing Senators to offer amendments. We actually had votes on three amendments yesterday. We are going to pass this bill. We are going to send it to the President's desk.
Then we are going to turn to more jobs bills and the important issues the American people care about. We are going to work on reforming our health care system. In his speech last night President Obama offered no solutions on the major issues facing this country. Instead, he offered the same old tired policies of higher taxes, more Washington spending, more bureaucracy, more obstruction of bipartisan solutions coming out of the new Congress.
The President said Congress should focus on areas where we agree. That is exactly what Republicans have been doing. We are moving bipartisan bills, bills that overwhelming majorities of Americans support. The President continues to threaten to veto them, things such as the Keystone XL Pipeline bill that supports 42,000 American jobs. That is not my number. That is what the State Department--the President's own State Department--said, it would support 42,000 American jobs.
In a poll last week, 65 percent of Americans said the President should sign that into law. We will pass bills to allow for more exports of American energy and to give the President trade promotion authority that he has asked for and that America needs. We will pass commonsense reforms to America's health care system, to end many of the outrageous and expensive mandates for coverage that people do not want, do not need, cannot afford.
We will pass bipartisan education reform to give all of America's 50 million students a better chance to succeed. We will push for tax simplification, to make taxes less fair, less complicated. That is what Americans need to compete in the 21st century. We do not need higher taxes, more debt to pay for spending and more IRS agents, things the American people do not believe we need.
Republicans are going to send the President bills that will help expand our economy by growing the private sector, not by growing the Washington bureaucracy. We are going to pass bills that increase how much families earn and how much of that they actually get to keep, not just how much Washington gets to take and the President gets to spend.
So the state of our Union is strong. It is also in greater agreement than it has been in years about the direction this country should take. President Obama could have taken the opportunity last night to actually talk about this. He could have offered a positive plan to work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress instead of the defiant tone he placed upon the country.
He made threats to veto bipartisan legislation. He chose to double down on more obstruction, more unaccountable Washington bureaucracy, more wasted tax dollars. The American people have rejected this course. The American people want a better path, not the same old tired speech from a President now in the final quarter of his time as President.
The speech is over. Now the President needs to decide what he is actually going to do. Is he ready to get on board with bipartisan ideas or does he want to spend the next 2 years as a lameduck. There are Democrats in this body who agree it is actually time for the Senate to get back to work. They are ready to listen to ideas, good ideas, work with Republicans to help America, to help the American people thrive.
This President should work with all of us. That is what Americans want. They want us to work together. They want us to change the direction our country has been headed for the first 6 years of President Obama's time in office. This Republican Congress is listening to the American people. The President continues to ignore them.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip.