Press Release Records
Press Release of Senator King
King Reaction to State of the Union Address
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senator Angus S. King, Jr. (I-Maine), a member of the Armed Services, Budget, Rules, and Senate Select Intelligence Committees, released the following statement tonight after President Obama delivered his State of the Union address:
“Tonight, the President eloquently presented us with his vision for the future of America, describing the challenges that confront us today, as well as his solutions to crafting a better tomorrow. Central to his message was not only the desire for, but the vital need to achieve, greater economic growth and job creation within our country – a priority that is shared by every member of Congress irrespective of political affiliation. Now, the question becomes: are we, as members of Congress, prepared to work with each other and with the President, in good faith and in a nonpartisan fashion, to accomplish the necessary work of the American people? As I have said before, we are at a precipice in our nation’s history – a moment in which the problems that confront our country are arguably the greatest of our generation, and if we fail to act to address them, they will undoubtedly become the greatest challenges of our children’s generation as well. It is not only incumbent upon us, but it is our responsibility – as stewards of this government – to see that the nation we bequeath to posterity is stronger than the one left to us.
“Our first step to right America’s path must be to immediately address the looming sequester cuts – a collection of severe, indiscriminate, across-the-board spending reductions, which if implemented, will wreak economic havoc in Maine and across the country. In a recent Armed Services Committee hearing, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta characterized the current budgetary uncertainty as the single greatest threat to our national security. According to a recent study, Maine would lose approximately 7,000 jobs if the sequester is implemented. Further, that statistic does not even begin to describe the economic ripple effects sequestration would have throughout the state. That’s why it is crucial that the President and Congress work together to promptly alleviate this immediate threat – one that was originally intended to be so irresponsible and reckless that we could not even fathom considering it. Tonight, I reiterate my call on the President and Congressional leadership to meet immediately to resolve this issue.
“It is also paramount that Congress immediately undertake the process of creating a long-term budget – and I’m pleased that an agreement reached earlier this year around the debt limit binds us to do so. Frankly, I am astounded that this nation has operated for the past four years on short-term continuing resolutions and haphazard budgeting laws, which are themselves often agreed to at the eleventh hour of an arbitrarily imposed deadline. This reckless process has sapped America’s economic health and to continue functioning in this manner would be a disservice to the American people. Instead, it’s important now more than ever before that we introduce desperately-needed stability so that investors, entrepreneurs, and consumers will have the confidence to invest in our economy. As a member of the Budget Committee, I will work tirelessly with my colleagues to see that a budget blueprint is created, and I look forward to being an integral member of those discussions.
“Undoubtedly, as a part of that process, we will need to explore additional revenues and spending reductions to proceed in a balanced manner. We will also need to regain control of exploding government expenditures in healthcare, which are the primary source of future deficits. At the same time, it’s vitally important that we not lose sight of priorities that have been the strength of our nation by allowing them to fall victim to uncompassionate cuts. Simply said, we can neither tax nor slash our way to prosperity – we must continue to sensibly invest in education, technology, infrastructure, renewable energy, and environmental protections to ensure that these initiatives will continue to inspire our greatness for years to come. No one is going to be happy with how we get there, but we must make the tough choices and keep our promise to the American people.
“As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I also welcome the President’s announcement that half of our servicemen and women currently stationed in Afghanistan will be returning home by the beginning of next year. It’s imperative that we use this next year to continue to properly train and prepare Afghan security forces to take command of their security – and when our men and when in uniform return home, it is also imperative that we take steps to ensure that their transitions are smooth, that they have at their disposal any resources needed to cope with the change, and that we are doing all that we can to assist in their reintegration.
“Additionally, I was encouraged by the President’s pledge to keep Congress fully informed of his counterterrorism efforts, recognizing, as he said, that ‘in our democracy, no one should take my word that we’re doing the right thing.’ That is precisely why I proposed the creation of an outside judicial process – similar to the established Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for electronic surveillance – in order to provide an independent perspective in the case of a targeted-strike against an American citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda. I hope the President will strongly consider my proposal, as his nominee for Director of the CIA, John Brennan, has suggested to me he will.
“Of course, it goes without saying that we are also a country that continues to heal from national tragedies which have shaken us to our core. From Aurora, Colorado to Newtown, Connecticut, our hearts broke at the news of the shootings that senselessly claimed the lives of innocent men, women, and children. It is time for Congress to act on the scourge that is gun violence, and I remain absolutely committed to finding ways to address this problem in a meaningful, substantive, and enforceable way – from expanded background checks, restrictions on magazine capacity, and improvements in mental health services and resources.
“With respect to immigration, there are very few people who deny the important role that immigration has played in the formation and development of our country. Throughout our history, immigrants have impacted our nation in myriad and profound ways. Their contributions have not only strengthened us, but propelled us along the arc of progress. Yet, there are also very few people who deny that our current immigration system is broken and dysfunctional. That’s why I’m pleased that bipartisan efforts are underway that could allow Congress to address the failings of our nation’s current immigration system and that the President has introduced his own set of proposals to do the same. These combined efforts demonstrate a seriousness of purpose and a dedication to action that has been absent in Washington with respect to immigration reform for years now.
“In conclusion, we should not be daunted by the magnitude of the tasks before us, although we must recognize that they are considerable. Instead, we must see that in these trials lies tremendous opportunity – an opportunity for Congress to demonstrate to the American people that their elected officials still possess the ability to rise above the poisonous din of partisan politics to seek solutions and to govern sensibly and maturely. I believe we still possess that capacity and that a greater future for America is within our grasp.”
Senator Angus S. King, Jr.
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