For Immediate Release
The 2015 State of the Union Address was important for Floridians and all Americans. The legislative agenda outlined by the President to rebuild the middle class are commonsense strategies for struggling working families. The reverberations of these noble measures will be felt not only for the next two years, but for decades to come.
Moving forward, Congress must focus on continuing to rebuild the middle class and concentrate on legislation that can actually pass. Wasting precious resources voting for legislation for the sole purpose of making a statement is an example of a wasted vote, and a vote is a terrible thing to waste.
Both major parties concur: taxes should be fair, and education should be affordable. These are issues that both major parties agree upon. Both. Major. Parties. But not the Tea Party.
Foreign affairs will play a bigger role this session, now more than ever, especially for Florida since Cuba is in play. Foreign affair gaffes aside, Curt Clawson, my opponent, and the Tea Party with which he aligns himself, lacks a basic understanding of foreign policy issues.
These are the issues that will define America in the 21st Century. These issues must be taken seriously and not dismissed with a single tweet.
Issues like the military campaign against ISIL:
We need to build a dynamic regional alliance that includes neighboring nations and states committed to fighting ISIL in their own backyards, while also addressing the political situation in Iraq. Ultimately, success depends on a fully resourced, long-term strategy to counter the violent extremism in fragile states, and we must use every tool in our national security's armamentarium to accomplish that goal.
Here at home, we need strong, local partnerships as well. Domestically, efforts to counter violent extremism requires us to forge strong, local communities based on the common values of inclusiveness and opportunity.
Issues like ongoing negotiations with Iran:
Since talks began, Iran is less of a threat. Its nuclear program is frozen and under constant surveillance. We are safer today than we were a year ago.
Congress has an important role to play. Just as Congress gives military commanders flexibility in fighting wars, they must provide the same flexibility to our diplomats, and not micromanage them as they forge an effective agreement.
The only deal the U.S. should accept is one that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Anything else is unacceptable. Period.
Issues like a responsible transition of power in Afghanistan:
It is in America’s best interest to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly and give the Afghani people and their newly elected leadership the best chance at securing their country.
A responsible military withdrawal from Afghanistan is contingent upon continuing the progress that has been made, and sustaining that type of political engagement at every level. This past year, in the face of incredible odds, the Afghani people held their first democratic elections. A responsible transition of power will also honor the service of the brave men and women who fought in America’s longest war.
Issues like Immigration Reform:
Immigration is not about keeping people out. It’s about keeping America strong and competitive—true to our founding values. In the past two hundred years, America has been at its strongest when we have had a hardworking, new generation of immigrants contributing in our communities.
The American immigration system should welcome the best and brightest, and enable us to be the most innovative country in the world. Simultaneously, our immigration system must maintain our security and keep out those who would do us harm.
As the Tea Party's response has reminded us—as Mr. Clawson has consistently reminded us with his gaffe-filled performances including the Tea Party’s State of the Union response—he and his party lack a basic understanding not only of foreign policy, but also domestic policy, and how Congress is supposed to work. They even lack an understanding of the budget process, Congress's most basic function.
Moving forward, let's contemplate, let's deliberate, and let’s rethink the way we vote. Let's rethink the way we treat the middle class and working families—the undisputed backbone of America. Let's rethink our positions on both foreign policy and domestic policy. Let's think long and hard about the direction we are taking our great nation. And perhaps most importantly: let's vote wisely, and often.
Thank you and God bless.