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Congressmen react to Trump’s SOTU

  • Congressman Richard Neal PAUL FRANZ



For The Recorder
Thursday, February 01, 2018

A day after President Donald Trump spelled out his accomplishments in his first State of the Union address, the region’s two congressmen said the president’s message failed to unify the country and touted a tax plan that will hurt the middle class.

Much of the divisiveness regarded immigration, said U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Worcester. Trump implied that many undocumented immigrants were members of gangs like MS-13, he said.

“I hoped for a speech focused on unity,” McGovern said.

Instead, McGovern was upset to hear these words from Trump, “For decades open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities … Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives.”

Trump recognized the parents of two teenage girls who were murdered, and six MS-13 gang members are facing charges, he said. He added that many of the members took advantage of the “glaring loopholes” in the law to enter the United States

“Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminal gangs, to break into our country,” Trump said in his address. “We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws, and support our ICE and Border Patrol Agents.”

Congressman Richard Neal, D-Springfield, said that while it’s important that Trump spoke of the opioid epidemic, more needs to be done. The epidemic was declared a public health emergency in October, but since then, there has been no action, Neal said.

“We clearly have work to do this year,” Neal said. “We must stop undermining the programs that provide coverage and treatment for those who need it and instead strengthen and improve access to care and coverage.”

McGovern agrees that while Trump has acknowledged the opioid crisis, no resources have been provided to tackle it.

“The community that I represent are tired of press releases and sympathetic statements,” McGovern said, adding that there needs to be funds treatment and prevention efforts.

“We need more than words,” McGovern said.

In his speech, Trump outlined four pillars of a plan for immigration reform — secure the border with Mexico with a wall, create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. at a young age, end the visa lottery, and end chain immigration that allows numerous family members to live in the country.

The president said the plan will also support the country’s response to the opioid crisis.

“In 2016, we lost 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses: 174 deaths per day. Seven per hour,” Trump said. “We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge.”

McGovern said Trump spent a lot of time bragging about the tax bill.

Trump boasted tax cuts and reforms were the biggest in American history, and that the cuts provide relief for the middle class and small businesses.

However, McGovern said that it hurts the middle class and the top 1 percent have the most to gain.

“The middle-class continues to struggle and the newly passed GOP tax bill will only make their lives harder,” Neal said. “The legislation puts the wealthy and well-connected first, while forcing 86 million middle-class families to watch as their taxes go up.”

Trump said that as the tax cuts create new jobs, the country should invest in workforce development and job training, as well as open vocational schools.

Neal said there are many individuals in Massachusetts struggling to find decent work.

“A strong economy can only be sustained by improved access to educational programs, especially on the community college and technical school level as we see a staggering number of employment vacancies in the skilled manufacturing field, especially here in New England,” Neal said.