AL lawmakers respond to Obama's final State of the Union address - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

AL lawmakers respond to Obama's final State of the Union address

(Source: WAFF Staff) (Source: WAFF Staff)

The following are responses from Alabama lawmakers regarding President Obama's final State of the Union address, shortly after his concluding remarks Tuesday night.

MORE: Obama's address in full | President warns against 'election year cynicism'

Congressman Robert Aderholt:

The good news is that this was the President’s final State of the Union address.  The bad news is that just like his previous seven addresses to Congress, it was unfortunately filled with the rhetoric, partisanship and divisiveness the American people have rejected.

President Obama is probably now worried about his legacy and exactly how he will be remembered. I do not think history will be kind to President Obama.  We have seen that Obamacare is an abject failure. There is still no plan for defeating ISIS.  The Iranian deal has isolated our allies while emboldening our enemies. And it is not fiction that our economy actually remains stagnant both in terms of growth and take home pay.

The focus of my conservative colleagues and I is to spend the next year focused on restoring a confident America and getting back to the basic principles of the Constitution.  An America where people are empowered to make their own decisions and go after their own dreams and get government out of the way.”

In Washington, Congressman Aderholt serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies for the powerful House Appropriations Committee; he is also a member of the Committee’s Defense Subcommittee, the Committee’s Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee, and the Helsinki Commission.

Senator Richard Shelby:

Tonight’s address was another political speech full of empty rhetoric that offered no real solutions to the issues facing American families and businesses each day.  While the President used the podium tonight to tout his record, Americans at home know that he is poised to leave behind a legacy of failed policies that have damaged our economy and made America weaker across the globe. 

The American people deserved to hear from the President tonight about his real, comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism.  They also deserved to hear that he will not circumvent Congress, unilaterally infringe on law-abiding Americans’ Second Amendment rights, or allow thousands of improperly vetted Syrian refugees into our nation. 

The American people are sick and tired of this President’s blatant disregard for the Constitution, policies that prioritize what is best for Washington over what is best for America, and speeches to score political points.  While I’m pleased that this is his last State of the Union address, the American people would be better off if it were his last day in office.

Congresswoman Martha Roby:

For all President Obama’s lofty rhetoric and aspirational soundbites, tonight’s speech offered little in substance for how to actually address the nation’s problems. I was particularly disappointed that, once again, the president came up short of delivering a bold, decisive, comprehensive strategy to defeat Islamic State terrorists. Instead, we got a lecture on the semantics of war. 

I did appreciate President Obama admitting how he regretted the deep divisiveness of his presidency. He said he wants to ‘do better,’ and if he’s serious, he can start by engaging with the people’s elected representatives rather than attempting unilateral executive orders every time he doesn’t get his way. 

Unfortunately I believe we can count on the opposite. That’s why I remain committed to fighting Executive Branch overreaches at every turn, should they occur. Whether it's an attempt to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants or a power grab by the Environmental Protection Agency or a threat to erode Second Amendment rights, Congress must stand up and fight back against abuses of executive power during this last year of President Obama’s time in office.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell:

President Obama’s legacy will be one of a man who sought to unify a divided nation, and whose very election illustrates how far our nation has progressed since Martin Luther King, Jr., dreamed of equality.

I was honored to share this historic moment with Sheyann Webb-Christburg whose presence should serve as a reminder that federal voting protections are as necessary today as they were in 1965 when an 8-year-old Sheyann marched from Selma to Montgomery in the name of voting equality. Sheyann’s presence should also remind us that progress is elusive, and that we must not take for granted any of the rights and privileges afforded to us.

President Obama has long warned our nation against abandoning our core values. Our collective commitment to democracy, equality, and opportunity has led us to greatness. America stands as a beacon of light around the world, lending hope to other peoples and nations across the globe.

We cannot, as President Obama wisely noted, adhere to what Lincoln called the ‘dogmas of the quiet past.’ President Obama has once again called on our nation to work hand in hand to create more opportunities for our families and to raise our standard of living.

Under President Obama’s leadership, American businesses have added 14.1 million jobs in 70 consecutive months. Unemployment among African-Americans has dropped to 8.3 percent from a peak of 16.8 percent in March 2010. Across Alabama, the unemployment rate has fallen to 6 percent from a recession-era peak of 11.9 percent. 

Nearly 18 million previously uninsured Americans now have health coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and consumers cannot be denied health insurance due to pre-existing coverage. We still have much work to do in terms of lower health disparities between African-Americans and whites. Parts of my district are rural, and access to quality health care is a long-standing problem that I would like to see addressed.

I am pleased too that President Obama mentioned criminal justice reform as one of his bipartisan priorities. The population in our nation’s jails and prisons has reached a new high even though crime rates are falling. It’s been proven that African-Americans receive harsher sentences than whites for the same crimes. Justice is color-blind, and we must do more to ensure that our laws are as well.

Despite the gains our country has made and the vision that President Obama has outlined, Congress’ blind allegiance to party politics has gotten in the way of progress. We have witnessed a backlash to many of his signature achievements – from the passage of the Affordable Care Act to re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba – and such resistance done nothing to advance our collective national agenda. I implore my colleagues in Congress to set aside politics, and to work with President Obama in his final year at the White House. 

Senator Jeff Sessions:

President Obama’s policy agenda on trade, crime, immigration, spending and debt all have one common feature: they make life harder for working Americans and put the country at needless risk.

With wages down, record numbers not working, and crime rising in cities across the U.S., the next person to occupy the oval office will have to chart a dramatically different course.  That course must include:

•           Immigration control and reduction

•           A dedicated effort to reduce crime and prosecute armed career criminals and drug dealers

•           Cancelling the sovereignty-eroding 2 million-word Trans-Pacific Partnership, and rebuilding our manufacturing core

•           Welfare-to-work: celebrating the dignity of work, and helping our own people move from welfare to good-paying jobs

•           Adoption and implementation of a balanced budget plan

•           Repeal of Obamacare

•           Creating a smaller, leaner and less costly bureaucracy

•           Streamlining the tax code, making it easier to keep jobs and wealth in America

•           Tapping into our vast energy resources

•           Restoration of the constitutional rule of law.

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