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Rep. Engel Statement on State of the Union Address

Rep. Engel Statement on State of the Union Address

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee,issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s final State of the Union address:

“This evening, President Obama usedhis final State of the Union address to draw attention to a problem so pervasive, it hinders our growth as a nation, and blunts the very spirit of possibility that has defined us as Americans for centuries. That problem is partisanship, and it has gripped Washington for far too long. 

"There are immense challenges facing our country today, but we seem completely incapable of allowing the greater good to outweigh the partisan rancor. 30,000 Americans died from gun violence last year. There were more than 330 mass shootings. Two thirds of gun violence victims were suicides, and far too many were children. But we cannot even bring ourselves to vote on a bill to prevent suspected terrorists from buying assault rifles, let alone fix background checks or stem the flood of assault rifles and armor-piercing handguns.

“Climate change is a dangerous problem caused by human activity. Last year was the hottest year on record, leading to rising sea levels, acidifying oceans, and more severe storms that last longer and cause more damage to communities. And yet in Congress we face reflexive oppositionto setting carbon pollution standards for power plants, developing renewable energy, establishing higher fuel efficiency standards, and joining international efforts to limit carbon emissions. We should be working together to develop solutions that increase our energy security, cut our carbon pollution, and enhance our economic growth. 

“Yet in spite of this terrible gridlock, we have still managed to make some remarkable gains. Since the Affordable Care Act became law, health care costs have risen at the lowest rate in half a century. Medicare and Medicaid spending in 2020 is slated to be $175 billion less than projected in 2010. Today, Americans have better access to more affordable health than ever before.

“The United States is now the world’s leading producer of petroleum and natural gas, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia, making us less reliant on foreign oil than we have been in nearly three decades. New fuel economy standards for our light duty vehicles are rising, saving consumers and businesses money and reducing U.S. oil consumption. The President led the way to a historic climate deal that was agreed to and signed by 195 nations and establishes a framework to drive down global emissions in the decades to come. This agreement is a vital step toward protecting our planet for our children, grandchildren, and all future generations.

“Wehave managed to dig ourselves out of the greatest recession in history, and grow our economy in ways not seen since the Clinton boom years of the late 90’s. We’ve really accomplished some great things—just think what we could be doing if we worked together.  

 "As the President said tonight, we cannot reach our potential unless we fix our politics. Only by working together, having rational, constructive debates on how to best serve the country, will we ever be able to accomplish our goals. This is the approach I have tried to accomplish every day of my service in the U.S. Congress. We have to strengthen the bonds of trust, not only in Washington, but across the country, from citizen to citizen, neighbor to neighbor. That's what the American people want. So let us in Congress set the tone of bipartisanship, and work together to ensure America's best days are still ahead."