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Wyden, Merkley, Chavez-DeRemer offer reaction to President Biden’s State of the Union address

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress  Tuesday night as Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., applaud.
Jacquelyn Martin, Pool
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night as Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., applaud.

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Oregon's two U.S. senators and Fifth District Republican congresswoman shared their divided views on President Biden's State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.

Here are their statements, in full:

Washington, D.C. — Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., released the following statement on President Biden’s State of the Union speech:

“The president is absolutely right that the tax system in America is deeply unfair. There’s one set of rules that applies to people like nurses and firefighters who work for a living, and there’s another set of rules that lets billionaires pay what they want and when they want. It’s long past time to fix that unfairness, and I’m going to continue fighting to get it done.

“The U.S. has created 12 million jobs in two years, unemployment is the lowest it’s been in more than half a century, wages are up, and inflation is down. Over those two years, Democrats have focused on helping middle class families get ahead by addressing big challenges like infrastructure, climate change, and sky-high drug prices. Even though we’re in a divided Congress, members ought to be working together to keep our growing economy on track, but House Republicans aren’t interested in that at all. 

“The biggest danger to our economy and job market is the threat that House Republicans will cause a catastrophic default. Everybody understands that a divided Congress will bring tough policy debates, but this kind of hostage taking that could destroy millions of jobs and trigger a serious recession is unacceptable. This crisis is entirely manufactured, and Republicans who voted for clean debt ceiling increases under Donald Trump are opposing one now. The economic damage will start to build up even before we reach a default.

“Republicans must stand down on the debt ceiling. When they do, there’s a lot for us to work on together, including bringing down the costs of housing, energy and health care, investing in more good-paying jobs, and supporting families with paid leave and more affordable child care.”

Merkley Applauds President Biden’s 2023 State of the Union Address:

America is Stronger When We Come Together to Lift Everyone Up

Washington, D.C. – Tonight, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following response to President Biden’s State of the Union Address to Congress:

“If there’s one takeaway tonight that will stick with me, it’s how much stronger our country can be when our leaders focus on working together to lift everyone up instead of sowing division and trying to tear each other down.

“In the last two years, Democrats have delivered huge wins for working families—from a bipartisan infrastructure law that’s creating jobs and modernizing Oregon, to the Inflation Reduction Act capping seniors’ insulin at $35 a month and tackling climate chaos, to the CHIPS and Science bill that’s reinvigorating Made in America manufacturing. In his address, President Biden celebrated those achievements and remained focused on what Americans at kitchen tables across the country are feeling every night. While we read headlines of record low unemployment, working families are being squeezed by big corporations every day – from burdening student loan debt to buying eggs at the grocery store, and big oil yet again breaking profit records while Oregonians still see gas prices near $4 a gallon.

“The President has gotten the State of the Union on the right track. Under his leadership, we’ve brought the economy back from the pandemic and created a record 12 million new jobs in two years. But we need to make sure we are building back an economy that restores the opportunity for working families to thrive.

“To start, I’m encouraged to hear the President calling to put a fairness tax on billionaires and quadruple the tax on corporate stock buybacks. Stock buybacks are a shameful practice that allows wealthy corporations and their executives to line their own pockets, while many continue to undermine and take advantage of the employees that are providing value and wealth to their work. I’ve called for such taxes for many years, and it’s time to make them law along with other tax policies that make the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share.

“A key to an economy that creates opportunities and prosperity for working families is supporting unions and a strong worker voice in the workplace. As the son of a union machinist, I know the difference that a union can make in delivering fair wages and the strong workplace protections that every worker deserves. My guest tonight was fellow Oregonian and AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. Liz and I have fought together to include strong labor standards and Made in America provisions in legislation to fund clean energy development and infrastructure projects. American workers should get a fair share of the wealth they create.

“I am so grateful for a president who welcomes all people, regardless of who they are or what they look like, into the American family. We have too much division in the country, and too many who live in fear of violence or prejudice because of who they are. To hear the President of the United States speak directly to trans youth and LGBTQ+ Americans was a powerful reminder of how far we’ve come, but a reminder of the human and civil rights we need to protect, including by passing my Equality Act. In the audience tonight were too many families going home without loved ones senselessly lost to brutal violence at the hands of the state. It’s on all of us as leaders to promote accountability and a public safety system that respects the dignity of our humanity.

“Tonight, the President also laid out a comprehensive vision for domestic and global leadership. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I know that our work on climate change, strengthening democracies, and security will never be effective if we don’t lead on the global stage. Since Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, the United States has stood by our Ukrainian and European allies to defend democratic values, bolster NATO, and provide critical economic and humanitarian assistance. Just like America is stronger when we stand together, the international community is stronger when democracies stand together for our shared values.

“I’ve been holding town halls across Oregon, and I can tell you what the President talked about tonight reflects what is on the minds of many Oregonians: cost of health care and prescription drugs, the need for more child care, the lack of affordable housing, the need to address mental health, and workforce shortages – especially in nurses and teachers.They want us to focus on solving our communities’ challenges and building for the future, not pursuing partisan warfare for politicians’ own gain. President Biden has led us in creating a foundation to lift up all Americans, and now, it’s time for us to build on the successes of the last two years and get to work fighting for working families to have the foundations they need to thrive.”

Chavez-DeRemer Reacts to President Biden’s 2023 State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This evening, Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05) released the following statement after attending President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address:

“President Biden’s State of the Union address was a mixed bag. I agree that certain policies, like the bipartisan infrastructure law, were necessary investments that will continue to pay off. But others ended up doing more harm than good – like the $1.9 trillion spending bill in early 2021 that sparked 40-year high inflation and the massive interest rate hikes we’re dealing with today. Despite the rosy economic picture the president painted, our labor force participation rate is at its lowest point in decades and real wages haven’t kept up with inflation.

“Additionally, I’m disappointed that he failed to adequately address several issues of importance to Oregon and the 5th District. Oregon ranks worst in the nation for drug problems. Portland just saw its deadliest year in history, with over 100 homicides. There were at least 18,000 homeless people living on the streets every day last year. And these issues are causing businesses to leave Oregon – Portland’s commercial vacancy rate is 26 percent, which is even higher than Seattle or San Francisco. Yet plans to truly address fentanyl and border security, crime, homelessness, and unfavorable economic conditions were noticeably lacking from his speech. Instead, we heard fearmongering about cutting Medicare and Social Security. Let me be clear: I do not and will not support cuts to these programs.

“President Biden likes to quote his father as saying, ‘Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.’ The president’s budget was due yesterday, and he missed the deadline – making it difficult to fully understand what his priorities are for the upcoming fiscal year. However, moving forward, I remain optimistic that we can find common ground and address the problems facing Oregonians. It’s clear the status quo is not working,” Chavez-DeRemer said.

Chavez-DeRemer brought Portland police officer Jordan Zaitz as her State of the Union guest. It was the first time a Portland police officer has ever been invited to attend. Zaitz, a mother of two, has been with the Portland Police Bureau for 19 years and serves on the front lines of the homelessness and drug crises in Oregon as a member of the Neighborhood Response Team.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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