Langevin Statement on President Obama's State of the Union

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) issued the following statement in response to President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address:

“I am proud to be an American. It’s a simple statement but one we take for granted. And lately, it is a sentiment that has been corrupted and aligned with principles and ideas that are far from our nation’s true values. There has been too much negativity, distrust, ignorance and fear-mongering in the public sphere of late, and it was refreshing and inspiring to hear President Obama outline the ways in which our country shines. I am proud to be an American, and I am proud of what President Obama had to say this evening.

“The challenges we face are significant, but our diversity has always been and continues to be our strength. The enduring resilience of the American spirit tells me that we can and we will overcome these challenging times. We are faced with a complex and ever-changing threat landscape, with security concerns at home and abroad. National security remains a top priority for the President, and as a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, it is always on my mind, as well. We must continue to build international coalitions to fight terrorism and create a more peaceful world.

“Since President Obama’s first State of the Union, our economy is undeniably on sounder footing. We have seen 70 consecutive months of private-sector job growth. We are innovating in growth sectors like renewable energy, and are leading the way on global efforts to combat climate change with the historic Paris climate accord. Technology is always changing, as the President recognized tonight, and to stay at the forefront of innovation in energy and beyond requires robust training, education, and workforce development programs. As co-chair of the Career and Technical Education Caucus, I have long said that closing the skills gap is critical to keeping America competitive and to putting American workers on a path to success.

“Our economy is growing, but we must keep that momentum going. Workforce development is one piece of the puzzle, along with policies that strengthen the middle class. A strong minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, retirement security, accessible and affordable education, affordable health care – these are all types of policies that have tangible benefits for American families and for our economy, both now and over the long term.

“We have made strides in these areas under President Obama’s leadership, but tonight he reminded us that the work is far from finished. We have a lot of work to do to reduce income inequality and give everyone in this country a fair shot. We have to make it easier to do business in America. We have to tackle immigration reform once and for all, strengthening border security while providing a clear path to citizenship for those who wish to come here. We have to pass commonsense gun reforms to keep guns out of the wrong hands. I was touched by the President’s gesture of leaving a seat empty in honor of victims of gun violence, but I hope that kind of gesture is soon no longer necessary.

“I was inspired by the President’s tone because I think it more accurately represents the patriotism and passion Americans feel in their hearts about their country. I don’t think preying on fears and pitting groups of people against each other is indicative of leadership, and definitely not the kind of leadership this country needs. President Obama elevated the discussion tonight and reminded us all, I think, that we live in a country that has a proud history of celebrating diversity, inspiring creation and innovation, and protecting equal rights for all people.

“Our to-do list is long, but I, like the President, am optimistic about the future. Last month, we saw the good and the productivity that comes from building bipartisan coalitions. We passed a transportation bill that provided predictability and invested in our infrastructure; we passed a budget that prioritized critical needs like national security and medical research; we passed an education bill that overhauled No Child Left Behind and put power back in the hands of educators who are charged with fostering a love of learning in our children. I hope that is only the beginning, because I know Congress can do better and we can do more to build consensus and work with the President for the good of the American people. I am ready to get back to work tomorrow, and to get back to the principles that make America great.”