U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) released the following statement reacting to President Obama's State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. At this evening's address, Shaheen hosted Derry native and Army veteran David Taylor as her guest of honor. Taylor was wounded by an improvised explosive device while serving on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2011 and the two first met at Walter Reed Army Medical Center following Taylor's return from Afghanistan.
"I want to once again thank David for his service and his valor. David represents the very best of our country and I was honored to have him join me at this evening's address. In New Hampshire, we are extremely proud of his service, his selflessness, and his courage.
"Strengthening the economy in New Hampshire and the United States is my top priority. I was pleased the President echoed this focus tonight because nothing is more important than bolstering our economy and creating jobs for middle-class families. We should begin with a focus on small businesses, not only because of the role they play in New Hampshire's economy but because of their prominence nationally. Small businesses create two out of every three jobs in the United States so it is critical that we ensure they have the tools they need to flourish.
"I was also pleased to hear the President call for increased investments in education as this has been a priority of mine throughout my career. In the Senate, I have focused on increased investments in education, particularly with respect to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), because these investments will help us develop a homegrown, high-skilled workforce for the future. I'm hopeful the legislation I introduced with a bipartisan group of my colleagues to boost STEM investments, and my additional efforts on STEM education, will receive the consideration they deserve.
"I was similarly encouraged by the President's renewed commitment to addressing climate change. We need to protect our environment and the public health of future generations from climate change and we have a tremendous opportunity to do so in a way that will boost our economy and encourage investments in clean energy. We should start with energy efficiency, another issue that has been a priority of mine and that I was pleased to hear the President discuss this evening. A commitment to energy efficiency can help create jobs, save businesses and consumers money, and protect our environment. This year, I plan to continue my bipartisan efforts to implement a national energy efficiency strategy.
"The President was also forthright in assessing the challenges before us. Most notably, I'm concerned about the looming automatic federal spending cuts and the serious impact they could have on our economy. When it comes to our debt and deficit, we need an approach that is balanced, fair, and comprehensive that incorporates both spending cuts and new revenues. The consequences of automatic sequestration cuts must be avoided so tonight, I am renewing my call for Congress to come together and strike a compromise to avoid the implementation of these cuts. Inaction is unacceptable.
"I recognize there is much to be done but I also know our challenges are not insurmountable. As a nation, we have overcome tough challenges before and I'm hopeful that we can once again. Through compromise and bipartisanship, we will find the solutions to put people back to work and lay the foundation for long-term economic growth. I'm hopeful that my colleagues join me in working in good faith with these principles in mind to move our country forward this year."