Tennessee lawmakers react to State of the Union


President Donald Trump renewed his dedication to build a wall along the southern border and called for lawmakers to work together in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

READ: Pres. Trump calls for end of resistance politics in State of the Union

Lawmakers from Tennessee are reacting to President Trump’s message and how it was delivered.

Before the address, Senator Lamar Alexander, R, tweeted a video saying he hoped to hear the president say 4 words: “Reducing health care costs.”

After the speech, Senator Alexander released a statement saying,

“President Trump’s speech was optimistic, and I especially liked his focus on reducing health care costs. As much as half of everything we spend on health care in the United States is unnecessary. It’s a tax on our families, on our businesses and on our governments, and we can go to work in a bipartisan way to reduce prescription drug costs, to end surprise medical billings, and to have more transparency about the prices of all the treatments and the medical services that we buy. I look forward to working with him in the Senate health committee I chair to accomplish these goals.”

Senator Marsha Blackburn, R, who, along with Congressman Tim Burchett, invited the parents of a man killed by an undocumented immigrant in a car crash, said, “President Trump conveyed an inspiring message and a hopeful vision for our country in tonight’s State of the Union message. He expressed confidence in our nation’s future and extended a hand to Democrats to work together, in unity, to produce results for all Americans.

Bringing Knoxville Fire Chief D.J. Corcoran as my guest was a true honor. He and his wife, Wendy, who attended with Congressman Tim Burchett, lost their 22 year old son, Pierce, in late December when he was killed by an illegal immigrant. The Corcorans are faith-filled Tennesseans who love their country, their family and their God. They have taken the tragic loss their family experienced and spread a message of hope that no American should have to experience the anguish of becoming an Angel Family. I am incredibly thankful they accepted our invitation to attend as our guests.

 As the president communicated in his speech, the state of our union is strong. Our nation is well-positioned to address our challenges in a way that meets the needs of the 21st century. I look forward to continuing to work with President Trump and with my colleagues of both parties to build on our success for the American people.”

Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, R TN-03, called the address, “outstanding.”

“It was a unifying speech. It was heart warming I really felt good about it. I thought the country really needs this right now where we are at a time in our history where there is a tremendous amount of partisan divide, there is policy division. I think the President basically said tonight, ‘Look, we need to come together, work together and make our great nation forward,'” said Congressman Fleischmann. 

Congressman Fleischmann invited Governor Bill Lee as his guest of honor. Governor Lee told News 2, “It was an honor to be in the House Chamber this evening in person to hear from President Trump directly about his vision for our nation. His comments on criminal justice reform were particularly spot on and I look forward to working with him and his administration in the months and years ahead to ensure our country continues to be great, and becomes even greater.”

Congressman Steve Cohen, D TN-09, refused to attend the State of the Union, instead watching it in his office. During the speech, he was retweeting fact-checks from the New York Times with #TrumpLies.

He released statements saying,

“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.”

Congressman Mark Green, R TN-07, said,

“Despite the unparalleled opposition this president has faced, he has fought harder and longer than other president in modern history to keep the promises he made to voters on the campaign trail. Tonight’s speech showcased the many accomplishments President Trump has achieved in the last two years. Our country is better off today than it was two years ago. Our economy is strong and Americans are keeping more of their hard-earned money. The president has stood up to our enemies and is helping bring needed change to places struggling for freedom. ISIS is scattered and fears us. The president also showed us tonight that he is battling to keep Americans safe from drugs, gangs and violence spilling over our unsecure southern border. Deadly criminals and deadly drugs kill American citizens every year – securing our border would save American lives. He is fighting to lower the cost of healthcare and increase transparency in the industry to make sure every American receives quality, affordable care. And finally the president challenged Americans to defend life, even those Americans still unborn. President Trump showed leadership and clearly demonstrated willingness to reach across the aisle. Serving as a startling split-screen, grumpy Democrats used the night to cross their arms in protest. I am glad the American people got to see firsthand the shocking childishness so prevalent within Democrat ranks.”

Congressman Tim Burchett, R TN-02, called the speech, “overwhelming.”

“The president hit some great points. Prescription drug prices are out of control. The AIDS epidemic, of course, that’s something that hits everybody. Military strength, getting out of worthless wars. I think he did a great job of all of them. Of course, border security. We’ve got to have that in our country I think he made some excellent points. We’ve got to have border security in this country. The border walls we do have, the folks in democrat leadership all voted for it so it’s kind of interesting now that they immoral, they’re not saying, ‘Tear the walls down,'” said Congressman Burchett. 

Congressman Burchett posted a video on Twitter saying what struck him the most during the State of the Union was “when democratic socialists would not stand to cheer when President Trump said, ‘America will never be a socialist nation.'” He added, “Democracy hands by a thread.” 

Congressman David Kustoff, R TN-08, posted a video on Twitter after the speech, saying in part, “There’s a renewed hope in our country and great people are striving to make tomorrow better for their children. Over the next congress, I am hopeful that democrats and republicans will work together.”

Congressman John Rose, R TN- 06, posted on Twitter before the speech, saying he expected the president to talk about immigration reform, infratructure needs and the economy.

Congressman Phil Roe, R TN-01, thanked the president on Twitter for recognizing the work of veterans in Congress in his address.

He released a statement saying,

“It was a privilege to attend the State of the Union this evening. President Trump outlined an agenda that will keep our strong economy growing while ensuring our nation remains safe and secure. We have had an exceptional last two years under his leadership. Our economy and job market is strong and continues to flourish. The investments we have made in rebuilding our nation’s military are helping to keep us safe.  Tonight’s speech comes at a critical time, with the three-week funding resolution scheduled to expire at the end of next week. The president made a good-faith offer to Democrats on a compromise proposal that will fund the border security priorities the president believes we need while making changes to our immigration laws that have long been favored by Democrats. In tonight’s speech, I thought the president did a good job of calling on all of us to rise above partisan politics and try to find common ground in the interest of our country. I am hopeful that Democrats will work with the president to find common ground and work to prevent another government shutdown. I also could not agree more strongly with the president’s decision to highlight the cost of health care and the cost of prescription drugs as a major issue that is on the mind of every American. Before Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act, we needed health care reform that addressed the cost in our system. The ACA only exacerbated this problem. Tonight, we heard a number of proposals from the president that will help Americans better afford their health care needs. I stand ready to work with the president and Democrats in Congress on a serious solution that will help empower patient-centered health care and help to make prescription drugs more affordable. Finally, I was pleased to hear President Trump emphasize our bipartisan success in passing and implementing the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017. President Trump’s leadership in urging Congress to bring accountability back to the VA is big reason this issue became a priority. It proves when we work together on a bipartisan basis, we can get big things done for our country. I am hopeful the bipartisan work we did on these important veteran bills will set us up for even more bipartisan accomplishments this Congress. I am optimistic about the vision the president shared and I look forward to working with President Trump in making that vision a reality.”

Congressman Scott DesJarlais, R TN-04, tweeted, “One of the greatest State of the Union Addresses in my memory! Proud to represent Tennessee in Congress, where I was honored to attend. Choose Greatness.”

“More than 90 percent of the media coverage of President Trump is negative, despite our successful work to rejuvenate the economy, which has produced fantastic jobs reports recently. This State of the Union Address was an opportunity for him to address the American people directly, although millions, especially in Tennessee, are experiencing for themselves the power of conservative policies placing middle-class families and small businesses first. Lower taxes, lighter regulation, and energy independence have helped to create a surging manufacturing sector, rising wages and economic growth, which the prior Administration claimed would never return. This one is also returning the U.S. military to its dominant status, necessary to defend the United States against foreign adversaries, including Mexican cartels. Along with Iran, Russia and China, our weak border, permitting drug and human smuggling, is one of the primary national security threats of our time. Like the President, I am committed to solving it.”

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