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Reaction of U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Il-13th) To the State of the Union

Location: Washington, DC

Reaction of U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Il-13th) To the State of the Union

"The President did a good job in outlining goals on the domestic front, but clearly, the ‘800-pound gorilla' in the room is Iraq. For most Americans, Iraq is the premier issue that must be resolved in the coming months.

The one bright spot in his speech tonight and in America today is the strength of our economy. I fully agree with the President's goals of balancing the budget without tax increases, reducing and making more transparent earmarks, and reigning in the runaway growth in entitlement spending. Iraq may be the overarching issue, but the economy is our bread and butter.

As a member of the Education Committee, I was delighted to hear that the President's goals for NCLB include greater local flexibility and more money for students who struggle. NCLB is working, and I know we can help to make it work even better. Our competitiveness in the world economy tomorrow depends on our success in education today.

On health care, I agree with the President's goal of reducing the number of uninsured Americans. Association Health Plans, expanded Health Savings Accounts, health information technology and medical liability reforms can help us achieve that goal. I will consider his proposed health insurance tax changes, but I am not inclined to back any plan that raises taxes. I'm skeptical on this one, but I will take a look at it.

As for energy, I have long been a proponent of investing in technologies to develop alternative sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, cellulosics, and others. While I support increased café standards, I will want to see the details of his plan to ensure that it will not allow any backsliding.

On immigration, the President's plan sounded far too heavy on amnesty, too light on border security, and too much like the bill the Senate bill passed last year. I like the idea of a tamper-resistant I.D. card, or any proposal that will make it easier for employers to identify illegal workers. But the jury is out, as far as I'm concerned, on the rest of his proposals.

Last, I agree with the President that nothing is more important to our history than resolving the issues of Iraq and the Middle East.

I am willing to give the Iraqi government one last chance. In a way, we owe it to our troops -- and to those who have given their lives - to allow the new government one more chance to prove that they are willing to make the tough decisions, and step up to take responsibility for their own country. We must hold them to benchmarks - on oil revenues, rebuilding, reconciliation, local elections, and, perhaps most importantly, responsibility for their own security.

I wish that there were an alternative in Iraq, but I see none, and no other party or leader has stepped up to present one. As the President said tonight, the consequences of failure will be grievous and overarching, creating a contagion of violence that could drag the entire region into chaos and create new threats to our own security. That is unacceptable.

Lastly, I was moved, as always, by the power of the tradition of the State of the Union, and by the historic evening tonight that featured the first woman Speaker of the House in history. It was very moving and a great inspiration for all women in America."

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