Declining to attend, Congressman says he’s skeptical
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) watched President Trump’s second State of the Union message to Congress on television at his office in the Rayburn House Office Building and released the following statement:
“I declined to attend this evening’s address because I want to hear the truth about the State of the Union from a President of the United States. The current president has no respect for the truth and is the subject of numerous investigations regarding his administration, his campaign, his foundation, his business and his inaugural committee. He has disgraced the presidency and does not deserve the respect and attention from Congress and the public that this address has historically received.
“We are all for border security but we will continue to disagree whether a $5.7 billion border wall is the answer. Diversity is our strength in this country and the President’s dog whistles about the nation’s golden yesteryears, his call to make America great ‘again’ is a false narrative to millions of Americans who fifty years ago did not enjoy the rights we now recognize for women, for minorities, for people with sexual and gender identity differences and for people with disabilities. We should not go backwards on women’s reproductive rights, voting rights, labor rights or health care.
“The initiative to stop the spread of HIV by 2030 is an admirable goal and I hope that we as a nation achieve it. I’m skeptical however of a plan to deal with this scourge from a President who would cut major safety net programs, like Medicaid, which delivers much AIDS care, and proposed cuts to the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program to give tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy.
“As a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I welcome the President’s call for a major infrastructure plan, but its value will be seen in its details.
“I was pleased to see Alice Johnson of Memphis, whose commutation request I supported, in tonight’s crowd, but I have suggested pardons and commutations should follow a deliberative, prescribed procedure, and be delivered to thousands of people not to a few dozen people with celebrity sponsors.
“The President tonight called for an end to ‘decades of political stalemate,’ but he has helped create it by attacking House Democrats, Speaker Pelosi and even Republicans like my former Senator Bob Corker who disagree with him. It would be a step in the right direction if members of the President’s own party weren’t routinely blind-sided by ill-conceived, pundit-inspired policies out of right field.
“I’m concerned about the state of the union and hope we can return to making progress on climate change affecting not just our country but the world. We need to have sensible gun reform. We must do more to protect people with pre-existing conditions, those living in poverty and hunger, our veterans and working families. That’s what will keep America great.”