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Compilation of Florida politicians’ reactions to the State of the Union

Addressing a deeply divided nation, President Donald Trump called for a “new American moment” of unity Tuesday night and challenged lawmakers to make good on long-standing promises to fix a dangerously fractured immigration system, warning of evil outside forces seeking to undermine the nation’s way of life.

Trump’s State of the Union address blended self-congratulation and calls for optimism amid a growing economy with dark warnings about deadly gangs, the scourge of drugs and violent immigrants living in the United States illegally. He cast the debate over immigration — an issue that has long animated his most ardent supporters — as a battle between heroes and villains, praising the work of an immigration agent who arrested more than 100 gang members and saluting the families of two alleged gang victims.

Here is a compilation of Florida politicians reactions to the State of the Union:

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson:

“The American people are sick and tired of the partisan politics that’s going on in Washington. We need leaders who are willing to put aside party politics and work together for the good of the country. We need a president who will not only call for more bipartisanship, but shows he’s willing to work in a bipartisan way.”

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio:

“President Trump is right to reverse President Obama’s dangerous decision to release terrorists from U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay and seek closure of this important facility. Far too many terrorists released from GTMO have returned to the fight and directly threaten the safety of American troops and our citizens at home and abroad. The United States must continue to use all lawful tools, including detention of enemy combatants at GTMO, in our ongoing armed conflict against al-Qaida, the Taliban, and associated forces, including ISIS. Going forward, I urge the Administration to capture those former GTMO detainees who have been released and resumed hostilities against the United States, and bring them to justice.”

U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn:

“Tonight, President Trump laid out an ambitious plan for the country — one that focuses on making a better future for all Americans. A future that is safer, more prosperous, and offers more opportunities for everyone. We had a productive year. We cut taxes for Americans at every income level and we provided a much-needed boost to businesses of all sizes. We opened a pathway of repatriation of trillions of dollars trapped overseas, and established the lowest tax rate for small businesses since 1931. We grew our economy by slashing government regulations and red tape. We are getting the government off your back. We repealed the Obamacare penalty tax. The tax cuts are here now and hardworking Americans are already reaping the benefits. We are finally rebuilding our military and we voted to give our troops a much needed and much-deserved pay raise. And we are attacking the layers of bureaucracy to fix health care for our veterans. I will continue to work with President Trump on our agenda and I commend him for his commitment to our great nation. The best is yet to come.”

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford:

“President Reagan once asked the American public when evaluating presidential leadership, ‘Are you better off than you were?’  One year into the Trump Administration, we know the answer is a resounding yes.  Tonight, we heard from the President that the state of our union is strong thanks to the strength of our citizens, and it will grow even stronger when we unite to seize the opportunities before us to improve the lives of every American.”

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy:

Tonight, President Trump stated that we are one American family.  However, my sense is the vast majority of Americans do not feel that way; instead, while they are deeply patriotic, they believe our nation is being torn apart by excessive partisanship, severe dysfunction, and a lack of civility and mutual respect. If we truly aspire to be one American family — to unify as a nation — the President and Congress must put country above party and people before politics.”

U.S. Rep: Darren Soto:


“President Trump’s State of the Union address was yet another display of hollow pledges and divisive rhetoric. At a time when Congress is working on bipartisan efforts to craft a DREAMers — TPS — Border Security deal, Trump’s fear-inducing message paints a dangerously inaccurate picture of immigrant communities across the nation. Immigrants are good people, immensely contributing to our country. It is irresponsible, and simply wrong, for the President to categorize all immigrants as criminals and gang members. We cannot accept this false agenda!

“The President failed to address disaster relief in a meaningful way, as Florida Citrus growers are still reeling from Hurricane Irma. Also, the same night the President told Puerto Ricans “we are with you, we love you”, his administration discontinued food and water aid to over a million Americans in Puerto Rico who are still suffering. Not only did Trump fail to address the dire situation on the island during the State of the Union, he also failed in the recovery efforts and ultimately has failed Puerto Rico.

“We were pleased to hear about infrastructure, albeit brief and in scant detail, as well as proposals for lower prescription drugs. Yet, President’s Trump’s self-congratulatory claims on the GOP tax plan were worrisome. The fact is that under this new plan only high-income Americans will receive tax cuts. And while Wall Street is surging, main street faced an unimpressive 2.3% economic growth rate in 2017. The majority of middle-class American families will not receive tax relief. The “forgotten Americans” that the President often refers to, were forgotten in this speech, and that group is present in Central Florida.

“The state of our union is indeed strong, thanks to resilient Americans who continue fighting for opportunities for everyone. Let’s not allow the sowing of division and hate from the President to dishearten us. Americans will always rise above.”

U.S. Rep. Val Demings:

“I considered it my duty to represent my constituents at the speech this evening, but I have been shocked to see the unrelenting disfigurement of American values and institutions by this administration and its enablers in Congress.

“Donald Trump has attempted to attack the press, disrupt democratic elections, and politicize the justice system. Before his speech today, President Trump rejected his required constitutional duty by refusing to implement Russian sanctions as ordered by Congress, and it’s been reported that he’s exploring a fraudulent partisan investigation of Special Counsel Mueller. That is unacceptable.

“I believe in a fair and open democracy, so I’ll fight to investigate foreign hacks into our elections — including in Florida. I believe that truth and law shouldn’t be partisan, so I’ll fight to protect the independence of the Justice Department. I believe that no one is above the law, so I’ll fight to protect Mueller’s Special Investigation.

“America’s institutions and norms are not a byproduct of America’s greatness, they are the reason for it. What Donald Trump doesn’t understand is that America’s greatness has never been about the size of our skyscrapers or our bank accounts. America’s greatness is our drive to become better — more democratic, more just, with more opportunity for all.”

U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster:

Tonight, President Trump shared that the State of the Union is strong, thanks to regulatory rollbacks, a forecast of regulatory certainty, and the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. As promised, this administration has made it clear America is open for business — and the results are clear.  Jobs are coming back to America and wages are on the rise!

“President Trump also has kept his campaign promises to invest in our military readiness and rebuild our military.  From enacting the largest pay raise in 9 years and investing in the tools and equipment to be mission ready, we have taken a huge step forward in rebuilding our national defense. In just one year, with a President focused on delivering what our military needs to achieve its mission, American forces have dealt ISIS a string of crippling defeats.

“There is more work to be done and President Trump and House Republicans remain focused on the issues that matter the most to the American people.”

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross:

“President Trump has accomplished much in his first year ever as an elected official. Our economy is booming and capital investment is high. The stock market has taken off. We’ve reformed the tax code so Americans can keep more of their own money. Our nation has taken the fight to ISIS and stood firm against our other enemies. Florida will benefit greatly from the work we’ve done just in this first year, and there’s more to come, particularly on infrastructure. I look forward to working with my colleagues on these crucial issues.”

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast:

Tonight, I was glad to hear the President outline a bipartisan agenda to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, including our waterways. Decades of failures to fix water infrastructure issues in Florida have created an untenable situation resulting in massive discharges of toxic water directly into the heart of our community. Working together, I’m hopeful we can turn the President’s proposals into legislation that addresses these issues in a robust and bipartisan way because our community can’t afford to wait any longer.”

U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney:

“Looking ahead, the President has outlined a list of issues which we need to address. Immigration reform that prioritizes skill-based migration, ends the “diversity” lottery and “chain” migration, while securing our borders, will be the first order of business. Rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure is another top priority. Just drive, fly or take a train to see how badly we need this. Finally, promoting fair and reciprocal trade agreements with partner nations around the world will lead to even greater growth and prosperity here at home. America continues to have great potential for success and we are already seeing results from a return to more limited government, lower taxes, and projecting strength in the world.”

U.S. Rep, Alcee Hastings:

“One evening of faux-bipartisanship does not erase the President’s failures over the past year. I do not believe for one second that the coming year will be any different. Tonight, President Trump further proved what we already know about him. He sees the Presidency as tool for self-aggrandizement. He sees himself as infallible, even as his policies jeopardize the well-being of the most vulnerable Americans.”

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel:

“Tonight’s speech was full of fake news. Mr. Trump took credit for President Obama’s strong economy, while bragging about throwing millions of Americans off health care and proposing a cruel, foolish immigration policy. Incredulously, he called for unity, even though he spends most of his days tweeting divisive, hateful things. Here are a few things the President didn’t talk about: his refusal to implement Congressionally-mandated sanctions on Russia, he ignored the tremendously powerful MeToo movement where women — and men — are demanding safe, equal workplaces, and his tireless, endless attempts to sabotage the health and economic security of women in this country and around the world.”

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis:

“I applaud President Trump’s bold and enthusiastic State of the Union address. He rightly focused on the undeniable economic revitalization that has been cultivated as a result of the pro-growth environment we have created by passing historic tax reform to help middle class Americans and small businesses and the regulatory relief measures that have been signed into law over the last year. Every day, we are seeing more businesses announce bonuses and expansion efforts that are putting real money in the pockets of every day Americans. Millions of workers will also see increases in their take home pay over the next few weeks as the new tax law is implemented. These positive results cannot be denied and efforts to diminish them are transparent and out of touch with the lives of hard working families.

“I was encouraged by the President’s specific plans to build upon this success by investing in the infrastructure of our nation, which is long overdue. This is something that I believe we can work together, across the aisle, to achieve. We will have to ensure the infrastructure investment is made in a fiscally responsible manner. As part of the way to fund the bill, I personally plan to propose redirecting funds currently spent on foreign aid to countries that hate America, and our values, back to this infrastructure project. I believe that money can be better spent here at home. As we work on infrastructure, one key is the existing regulations that currently stand in the way of necessary infrastructure improvements. For example, the Ridge Road Extension is a vital public safety project in Pasco County, and it has been waiting for federal permitting for almost 2 decades. I’ve been engaged on this issue for the past 4 years and have received assurances that the end is finally near. However, tonight the President committed to limiting federal permitting to one year.

“With respect to broader foreign policy; however, I agree that we must continue to work with our allies to ensure continued economic prosperity within an interdependent economy that leverages the strength of American innovation, American entrepreneurship and the American worker. We must also present a united front against radical Islamic terror. There is no other choice but to lead from a position of strength, and this requires continued investment in our world class military, which is what the House did with the bill we passed today. Proper funding, at the levels requested by our military leaders, is essential to our national security. If we are not safe, then nothing else matters. Achieving this paramount objective is multi-faceted and involves securing our borders, ending chain migration, and ensuring visas are granted on a merit basis.

“I was also proud to hear the President discuss the positive steps we have taken to help our nation’s Veterans. By empowering the VA Secretary to fire bad actors, streamlining the appeals process to ensure compensation claims are processed more quickly and fixing the problems within the CHOICE program to ensure Veterans have access to quality medical care close to their home, within a timely manner we are honoring our commitment to serve those who have proudly served us.

“Another important priority of mine that the President mentioned tonight was the work I have been doing in health care. The skyrocketing prices of Rx drugs have gotten out of control, which is why I have filed bipartisan legislation to create competition within the generic drug market in order to bring down the cost of drugs. I have also been working to streamline the FDA approval process while maintaining safety standards in order to develop treatments and cures for rare diseases and get them in the hands of sick patients.

“While we work on these issues we must continue to make progress in tackling the opioid crisis. As the President mentioned tonight, it is a public health crisis. I helped secure $27 million in grants for the state of Florida with more on the way, and I remain committed to additional reforms that are needed as we have continued to see the death tolls rise in Pasco and Pinellas counties just this past year. With input from local Sheriffs and substance abuse professionals, I have incorporated meaningful provisions into legislation currently being considered.

“All of these issues reflect an ambitious agenda for the year ahead and I look forward to working with my colleagues in a respectful manner to find common ground and do the right thing for our country.”

Gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham:

“I have seen Trump’s failures firsthand while working across our state with entrepreneurs, students, families — real Floridians. While the rich and well-connected are benefiting from Trump, working Floridians are finding it harder and harder to get ahead.

“Donald Trump has set Florida children and families back by placing the education industry in charge of our public schools. The appointment of Betsy DeVos has only encouraged more high-stakes testing and the privatization of our public schools.

“Donald Trump has threatened Florida’s entire environment and economy by withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement and threatening to drill off our beaches.

“And Donald Trump has made it more difficult for working Floridians to get ahead by undermining the Affordable Care Act and caving to the insurance companies, special interests and lobbyists who are making health care more expensive

“Millions of Floridians have raised their voices to stop Trump’s most dangerous proposals — and we will continue to make our voices heard until the last day of his administration.

“As governor, I will stand up to Donald Trump when he betrays our values and hurts working Floridians. I will take on the president to defend our public schools, protect our environment, and strengthen health care.”

Gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine:

“The most encouraging thing about America is how the strength of the nation has been able to weather the harm this leader has tried to do — to working families looking for a break, to women looking for equity and respect, to children looking to protect the environment they will inherit, and to every person looking for someone to champion their right to affordable health care. As President Trump used tonight to continue boasting about himself, the rest of us are looking to restore the American Dream where people have the freedom and opportunity to succeed — regardless of their gender, their race, their sexual orientation or their politics. … The President keeps score by listing winners and losers. As Governor, I will make sure that no Floridian is left behind or left out, because in our world, everyone deserves a shot at being a winner. Everyone.”

Gubernatorial candidate Chris King:

“What we heard from President Trump was deeply dishonest and bigoted speech that ignored a simple truth: one-party rule isn’t working for regular middle-class families.

“Here’s the real state of our union: From Washington, D.C., to Tallahassee, Republican politicians would rather serve their special interest donors and party leaders than find real solutions to grow our economy.

“Floridians deserve better than to hear more empty speeches from politicians who are more loyal to their wealthy donors than to the people who elected them. It’s time for big ideas, new leadership and a governor of Florida who focuses tirelessly on creating quality jobs, raising wages, and lifting up Florida’s hardworking families.”

Florida Democratic Party:

“The only thing this President has done during his first year in office is increase taxes on Florida’s working families to pay for tax cuts for the very wealthy, while continuing his hateful rhetoric against women, immigrants, and people of color. Tonight’s SOTU indicates more of the same. While Democrats work to create opportunity, an economy, and a country that works for all Americans, Trump and Republicans have made it clear that they’ll continue to reward the wealthy at the expense of hard-working Americans.”

Congressional candidate Cris Dosev:

President Trump threw down the gauntlet in tonight’s State of the Union address, challenging Washington’s establishment to put aside their differences for the good of the nation.

The President reinforced the key, basic truth that it’s our people who make us great; and that the future of our country depends on a government that works for We the People.

I proudly join President Trump in urging governmental leaders to come together to support our middle class, our military, our national infrastructure and our world leadership role.

Tonight, as the President spoke of real hope and progress, he reminded all of us that the American dream is alive and well, and the inalienable right of each and every citizen of this great country.

I applaud the President’s inspiring outreach to all Americans, regardless of political leaning or background.  I join him in reiterating that America’s strength as a nation rests in our focus on faith, values and family; and in his call for unity going forward to build on those assets.

It’s time to set political grandstanding aside and put America’s first.  It’s time, as the President noted, to get the job done.

It’s time to restore our nation’s focus to where it belongs:  on We the People.  I hope, for the sake of all of our families’ futures, that Washington’s political establishment agrees.

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

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