President Trump’s State of the Union address

Published 9:11 am Monday, February 5, 2018

Tuesday evening I had the privilege of attending President Trump’s first State of the Union address, and I was proud of the accomplishments he touted and am ready to get to work on much of the agenda he outlined. During the president’s address, he outlined his strategic vision to build a safer, stronger and prouder America. I look forward to working with him in the next year to deliver results for East Tennesseans.
The president started by talking about the positive benefits we are already seeing from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which we passed in December. Each day we are seeing new companies and organizations give their employees benefits, raises, bonuses and the like as a result of our new tax law. Just in the last week, Verizon, Home Depot, Starbucks and FedEx have announced a number of increased benefits for workers, including pay raises, bonuses, stock ownership and benefit improvements. Each of these businesses employ hundreds of East Tennesseans, and because of these changes, the East Tennessee economy will be improved as well. This is huge!
In addition to the continued successes of tax reform, I am also optimistic about the infrastructure plan President Trump rolled out during his address. While I will need to review the details, I’ve said time and time again we should work to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. When we invest in our roads and infrastructure, we are investing in something that our children and grandchildren will see a benefit from. The president couldn’t have been more on the mark with his comments about regulations and how much unnecessary time they add to getting needed infrastructure built. My office has seen those delays first-hand in our district, as we helped one business navigate a complex set of regulations to build a business that was held up for three years because of regulatory delays. This has to change.
I’m also glad the president is continuing to prioritize a secure border and an end to many immigration loopholes that are unfair to hardworking Americans, including many immigrant families who patiently waited in line through the legal process. While I disagree with the idea that we should reward those who illegally reside in America with citizenship, I think there are many elements of the president’s plan that every American should support. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 4760, the Securing America’s Future Act, which strengthens our border security and includes funding for a wall at our southern border, eliminates immigration loopholes and transforms our immigration process to a merit- and skills-based process. I hope the House will soon consider this legislation.
As Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I was proud to see the president reiterate his support for veterans, ensuring they are properly taken care of and hiring skilled employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Last year, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the VA Accountability First Act, which will ensure bad actors are held accountable while improving and keeping intact important whistleblower protections. The vast majority of employees at VA are honest and hardworking, but it’s unfair to the good employees when VA refuses to hold these folks accountable. The president shares a strong commitment to taking care of our nation’s heroes, and I look forward to taking further steps to improve the lives of veterans in every way that I can.
I was also pleased President Trump talked about the threats to our national security, particularly the threat posed by North Korea. By putting North Korean defector Ji Seung-Ho front and center, the president showcased for the world the brutal nature of this authoritarian regime and sent a message to the rest of the world that the United States will stand proudly for freedom. The president also rightly highlighted efforts to rebuild our military, defeat terrorists around the world and ensure our foreign aid prioritizes helping our friends. Our servicemembers who are fighting on the front lines to protect this nation deserve our utmost respect and thanks in addition to the best equipment in the world. I wholeheartedly support our troops, and I appreciate the work they’re doing around the world.
Looking ahead, it is critical for Congress and the administration to continue our work to leave a better America for future generations. There is a lot of work to be done in the upcoming year, but I know we can continue on the current path of American prosperity. I am optimistic for our future, and I look forward to working with President Trump and my colleagues in Congress to get things done.
Feel free to contact my office if I can be of assistance.

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