Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and Co-Chair of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, issued the following statement after President Obama's State of the Union Address. Breaking with congressional tradition in which Democrats and Republicans sit on opposite sides of the aisle in the House Chamber, Senator Stabenow sat next to Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts from Kansas for the second consecutive State of the Union.
"I was pleased to once again attend the State of the Union with Senator Roberts, the top Republican on the Agriculture Committee, to help urge bipartisan cooperation in Washington. Last year, the Agriculture Committee was the only Committee to develop a detailed bipartisan proposal to cut billions from our budget while strengthening initiatives that help farmers and businesses create new jobs. For the good of our country, Members of Congress must rise above election-year politics and come together to revitalize the economy, and I am confident the Agriculture Committee will continue to show this kind of leadership.
"The most important issue facing Michigan right now is transforming our economy to create new jobs and improving economic security for middle-class families, and I was very glad to hear President Obama focus on these priorities. I was especially pleased that the President embraced the idea of a trade enforcement unit to help crackdown on countries who continue to violate trade laws to gain an anti-competitive advantage over our businesses and workers. I wrote the bill to create a trade enforcement unit years ago and I hope this gives the idea the momentum to become a reality this year.
"American manufacturing is growing again thanks to new innovations and technology breakthroughs-with Michigan businesses and entrepreneurs leading the nation in clean energy patents and advanced battery research and production. I have been focused on promoting Michigan's strengths like agriculture, advanced batteries, clean energy and other 21st Century manufacturing, and the more the public and private sectors work together to make things and grow things, the stronger Michigan's future will be."
President Obama spoke about many ideas long promoted by Senator Stabenow. Stabenow is the author of the American Competitiveness Plan to get tough on countries who break international trade laws to gain an anti-competitive advantage over American businesses and workers. She is also the author of the Battery Innovation Act, the first comprehensive plan to help domestic advanced battery companies take root and expand here in Michigan and across the country. And Stabenow has championed a number of initiatives to help promote clean energy technology production in America. Stabenow is also a cosponsor of the STOCK ACT to hold Members of Congress accountable that abuse his or her position for financial gain by prohibiting congressional insider trading.
First Lady Michelle Obama hosted Michigan resident Bryan Ritterby, a lab technician for wind turbine manufacturer Energetx Composites in Holland, as one of her guests for the speech. After working for more than 25 years in the furniture manufacturing industry, Ritterby was laid off in 2009 at age 55. He completed a composite technician training program at Grand Rapids Community College and was hired by Energetx to test materials to be used in wind turbine blades.
Energetx Composites was one of twelve clean energy manufacturers in Michigan that received the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, which Senator Stabenow championed in 2009. The 30% tax credit provided much-needed capital for clean energy projects here in America, leveraging billions in private capital to create tens of thousands of clean energy jobs across the country.
Mrs. Obama also hosted Alicia Boler-Davis, plant manager of GM's Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping, where she is in charge of GM's small car program. The Orion Assembly Plant produces the Chevy Sonic and Buick Verano.