What did Pennsylvania lawmakers think of President Trump’s State of the Union speech?

February 5, 2020
In The News

With the Senate impeachment vote and a long re-election battle ahead, President Donald Trump gave his pitch to a nationally televised audience Tuesday evening on why the country is on the right track.

Pennsylvania Republicans praised Trump on the economy, energy policy, and his focus on school choice, which included inviting a fourth-grader who attends an under-performing school in Philadelphia. The state’s Democratic lawmakers were less impressed, pointing to a House-passed bill to lower prescription drug costs in response to his call for bipartisan legislation on the popular issue.

Here’s more of what they had to say after the president’s remarks:

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey

"President Trump’s State of the Union address highlighted the great strides our nation has made over the past three years and set an optimistic and ambitious agenda for the future.

“The economy is the best it has been in my adult life. President Trump deserves a lot of credit for advancing pro-growth policies that have led to near record low unemployment, bigger paychecks for blue-collar workers, and U.S. companies bringing $1 trillion back from overseas.

“For five years, I have fought to end dangerous sanctuary city policies. I appreciate that President Trump continues to make our work to accomplish this a priority. Congress should pass my Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities legislation to help put an end to sanctuary city policies once and for all.

“President Trump was also right to discuss the need to expand school choice. Every child in our country deserves a high-quality education, regardless of zip code or income level. Right now, the school choice movement is facing unprecedented opposition in Pennsylvania. I’m glad Stephanie and Janiyah Davis from Philadelphia were in the chamber tonight to put a face to the problems facing Pennsylvania families who want to escape failing schools.

“Finally, President Trump has inarguably made our country safer. The administration deserves praise for taking out two of the world’s most dangerous terrorists and holding Iran to account for its hostile actions.”

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey

“For three years, President Trump and Congressional Republicans have pursued a corporate agenda that gives obscene tax cuts to the super-rich, rips health care away from millions and shortchanges our children. I heard nothing in tonight’s speech that leads me to believe the year ahead will be any different.”

Rep. Susan Wild, 7th District (Lehigh Valley)

“The division and partisanship in our country is reaching a breaking point -- that is something I think most individuals have seen firsthand. They’ve probably felt it at their Thanksgiving dinner tables and on their Facebook feeds. I certainly have. Tonight, I wanted to hear a speech from our President that encouraged unity. That gave us a sense of identity as Americans. That forged a path forward.

“In Pennsylvania, our delegation, both Republicans and Democrats, have found a way to work together. We cosponsor each other's bills, we work across the aisle, we come together for Pennsylvanians -- considering that this is an election year in which Pennsylvania is critical, the President should take note of how we behave in the Keystone State.

“Throughout my past year in Congress, I have been happy to support and vote for more than 275 bipartisan initiatives to lower the cost of prescription drugs, ensure protections for those with pre-existing conditions, expand and improve education, and lift up American working families.

“There are so many bills we’ve passed that would immediately improve the lives of those in the Greater Lehigh Valley and our country. Bills like H.R.3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which would finally put the interests of the American people over the interests of Big Pharma. Or H.R. 986, the Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions Act, which included my bipartisan amendment to stop the rising cost of health care premiums which passed with the support of 78 Republicans.

“Tonight, the president stated his desire to work in a bipartisan fashion on these very same issues -- if he’s serious about these intentions then the only thing I have to say is, let’s get to work.”

Rep. Dan Meuser, R-9th District (Schuylkill County)

“President Trump again delivered a message of optimism for our country and resolve to continue keeping promises to the American people. In the Trump Administration’s fourth year, our country is experiencing the full impact of pro-growth policies, such as better trade deals, an emphasis on skills training, lower taxes, and regulatory relief. These results, along with a more secure border, a foreign policy based on the principle of peace through strength, and renewed energy independence, prove the Great American Comeback is well underway.

“Our country and Pennsylvania are prospering again. Since the President’s election, 7 million jobs have been created nationwide – 162,000 in Pennsylvania alone. In our great Commonwealth, entrepreneurship has surged since 2017 and the more than 300 Opportunity Zones throughout Pennsylvania have endowed our communities with the promise of economic growth and greater opportunity.

“I have seen firsthand the Trump Administration’s commitment to our state when I have joined President Trump, Vice President Pence, and other Administration officials on their visits to Pennsylvania. House Republican leaders, including Leader Kevin McCarthy, Whip Steve Scalise, and Conference Chair Liz Cheney, have visited as well, and I am glad to know of their commitment to Pennsylvania’s future.

“To keep our future bright, we must keep our economy firing on all cylinders and provide necessary supports to develop a 21st Century workforce. The President’s Pledge to America’s Workers is helping to catalyze a reskilling revolution and close a skills gap that has left 1 million open jobs nationwide. I fully support this initiative and will work to ensure its benefits reach every corner of Pennsylvania’s Ninth District.

“Hardworking Pennsylvanians and Americans make our communities and country strong, and this Administration has demonstrated its incredible support for them. Through greater education choice and affordability, the next generation can meet new challenges and seize unimaginable opportunities. Congress must work with President Trump on this and on long overdue reform to lower prescription drug prices, eliminate surprise medical bills, and lower the cost of healthcare overall without diminishing quality of care.

“On the world stage, the United States has reclaimed our mantle of global leadership. New trade deals have ushered in a new era of free, fair, and reciprocal trade. A message of strength has kept America safe, reassured our allies, and kept our enemies on alert. Critical investments in modernizing and rebuilding our military have improved readiness and empowered America to lead again. With modern equipment and investments in space and cyber readiness that had long been neglected, America is no longer reluctant to lead. America seeks peace through strength, is resolved in its efforts, and requires accountability from every nation.

“In his fourth year as President, the results are clear: President Trump continues to deliver for the American people, disprove conventional wisdom, and set our country on a path to a decade of prosperity, peace, and American exceptionalism. I look forward to continuing to work with the Trump Administration and a pro-growth Congress to implement an ambitious and optimistic agenda for our country’s future.”

Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-8th District (Scranton/northeastern Pennsylvania)

“The president called for a bill to address the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. We’ve already sent one to the Senate: it’s called the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, and it’s among the hundreds of House-passed bills Leader McConnell is holding up.”

Rep. Fred Keller, R-12th District (Lycoming County):

“I thank President Donald Trump for delivering a forward-looking message of unity that strikes an optimistic tone for the future of our country.

“Thanks to President Trump’s leadership, we are in the middle of the great American comeback. In Pennsylvania, wages are up, unemployment is down, and new jobs have created a blue-collar boom for the middle class.

“I am especially appreciative of President Trump mentioning the importance of America’s new-found energy independence. On any given day, up to 10 percent of the nation’s natural gas supply is produced in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District. We are a leader in making the United States a net fossil fuels exporter. Not only does a robust American energy industry mean more good-paying jobs, community investment, and long-term economic growth, but it means a more secure America. No longer are we reliant on countries that hate us to provide us with energy resources. We are responding decisively to Iranian aggression and dealing with China and Russia from a position of strength now that we are not dependent upon foreign adversaries to keep our lights on and heat our homes.

“I will continue working with President Trump and fellow members of Congress to keep the great American comeback rolling. The American people have a leader in the White House who is committed to putting their interests, not foreign or special interests, first. I look forward to working together to lower prescription drug costs in a truly bipartisan way, secure our borders, strengthen our nation’s infrastructure, and promote American energy dominance at home and around the world.”

Rep. Dwight Evans, 3rd District (Philadelphia)

“No mention of America’s 40,000 gun deaths per year. Only talk of a few isolated incidents involving unauthorized immigrants. Universal background checks would save many lives. The Senate should pass #HR8!”

Rep. John Joyce, R-13th District (Blair County)

“From securing our southern border & rebuilding the military to strengthening the U.S. economy & making quality health care more affordable for American patients, our nation is moving in the right direction. It’s an honor to serve alongside @POTUS.”