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Response to the State of the Union Address

EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON | 2/12/2018, 8 a.m.
In response to the State of the Union address …
eddie bernice johnson

U.S. House of Representatives

In response to the State of the Union address …

On Transportation/Infrastructure: Almost an entire year has passed since Trump first addressed a joint session of Congress. Yet, we are no closer now than we were then to seeing a concrete plan on how the administration plans to shore up our nation’s infrastructure. The $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that Trump alluded to sounds great on its face. However, the devil is always in the details and there is still no substitute for direct federal spending when it comes to infrastructure, especially when we are talking about helping our rural areas.

In its last report, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that there is a current infrastructure gap of $1.5 trillion needed by 2025. The U.S. Department of Transportation also estimates that more than $800 billion is needed today just to bring our existing roads and bridges to a state of good repair. This is serious and our country is exposed to greater risk every single day that we do not act.

The U.S. economy relies heavily on a vast network of infrastructure to move people, goods and services. Without a robust transportation network, we are putting our nation’s economy and its people at risk. The time to act is now. This Administration owes it to the American people to deliver on his campaign promises to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

On the Economy: Now more than ever, we need to be protecting our most vulnerable – particularly communities of color. Our economy should be working for every American, not just a select few. Yet Trump’s only major legislative accomplishment during the first session of Congress was passage of a tax bill that overwhelmingly benefits the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations. This bill will end up costing the American people at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade, a heavy burden that future generations will be forced to bear for decades to come.

On Immigration: I am deeply disappointed in the president’s tone toward immigrants and the disregard to how they contribute to our nation. Trump seems to forget that this country’s history has been about tearing down walls, not building them up. The fate of 1.8 million young people should not be considered a bargaining chip for the president to use so that he can permanently reconfigure our legal immigration system by eliminating the diversity lottery and family reunification. Trump should not use the hopes and dreams of thousands of Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program recipients within my district as a tool to erect an expensive wall. For too long, these young people have only known the United States as their home. Congress must swiftly pass a bill to protect these individuals without damaging our reputation abroad as a place where dreams of a better life can come true.

On health care: Trump signed the Republican tax bill into law Dec. 22, 2017. His tax bill is just the beginning of the Republicans plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. The individual health care mandate, which is the primary enforcement mechanism under the ACA for individuals, will be repealed beginning in 2019. As a direct result of this repeal, more than 10 million Americans can reasonably expect to experience increased premiums. Ultimately, this will result in fewer Americans having health care coverage for their families.

Within the next year alone, Medicare will be cut by $25 billion – effectively placing the burden of these tax cuts on the backs of our senior citizens. Sadly, Republicans in Congress and Trump have demonstrated once again that they are willing to put the interests of a select few – the wealthy – ahead of the greater good of the American people. This bill will have a devastating impact on future generations for decades to come. We must continue to find a way to work with Republicans in a bipartisan manner to come up with real policy solutions to repair the ACA and ensure all Americans have access to affordable and effective health care.

U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas.