U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13) today issued the following statement following the President's State of the Union Address:
"Tonight, the President made it clear that while the country may be focused on choosing the next president, he still intends to be an active and engaged commander-in-chief for another twelve months. That's good, for that's his job.
"It's difficult for any lame-duck president, but he laid out for the coming year an ambitious agenda, both foreign and domestic. And he called on Congress to show that we can work together to achieve results for the American people. Polls continue to show that Americans are dissatisfied with Congress, for good reason.
"Of huge significance to Illinois is that he remains committed to the American Competitiveness Initiative, which promotes scientific education and research.
"That means Fermi and Argonne National Labs, right here in the Chicago area.
"The importance of federal support for basic research in the physical sciences cannot be overstated. In fact, science and technology innovations have accounted for more than 50 percent of the growth of the U.S. economy during the last half-century.
"As we search for ways to bolster the economy and ensure high-paying jobs into the future, this is especially key.
"That's why I share the President's disappointment that this Congress failed to provide sufficient funding for scientific research during fiscal year 2008. As a result, both Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois were faced with unexpected and disruptive cuts to their budgets. These cuts not only threaten our country's technological edge, they threaten the livelihoods of hundreds of scientists and engineers right here in Illinois.
"Congress needs to work with the President to put funding for basic scientific research back on track. We must maintain our competitive edge and we must continue to train the top minds of tomorrow right here at home.
"Another part of the address I agreed with was President Bush's attack on earmarks. I think he's right to demand that Congress cut earmarks in half, but I think we should do even more. That's why I support an immediate moratorium on earmarks and the establishment of a bipartisan committee to reform the earmark process for future years. Its time to give Americans reason to trust Washington with their hard-earned money, and that starts with ending the current flawed earmark system that sends millions of dollars to the bridge-to-nowhere, the Christmas Tree Museum, and other nonsense.
"We can't tie the hands of our intelligence and law enforcement personnel who are keeping us safe from terrorism. On foreign intelligence surveillance - or FISA - the President is determined. The Protect America Act needs to be reauthorized immediately so American agents can continue to quickly intercept and act upon electronic communications between foreign terrorists. The law expires February 1st, and Democrat leadership in Congress wants another short-term patch while they play political football with the issue. That's not right.
"As the President indicated, we need to permanently give American intelligence agents the tools they need to thwart attacks on U.S. citizens, and we need to do it now.
"Finally, with respect to the economy, I applaud the President's willingness to come together with House Democrats and Republicans on a clean, targeted economic-stimulus package. The bill being crafted in the House promises to relieve the financial strain on hard-working Americans while providing a much-needed boost to the economy and housing market.
"I think the President was clearly talking to the Senators in the room when he asked that unrelated spending or tax increases stay out of the package. If the Senate agrees not to delay or poison the bill with partisan spending demands, we have a good shot at heading off a possible recession and giving a much-needed boost to job growth.
"The President also made it clear that extending the 2001 tax cuts should be a top economic priority for 2008. The other side wants to enact what would be the largest tax increase in history, but that is just plain wrong.
"If we are going to keep the American economic engine running strong in the long-term, it's obvious that Congress needs to prevent a return of the marriage penalty, death tax and Alternative Minimum Tax, along with higher taxes on income, dividends, and capital gains.
"The President also was right to stress the economic importance of opening new foreign markets to American-made goods and achieving energy independence.
"Pending trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea, and Panama could expand U.S. exports, lower consumer prices, create good jobs for Americans, and bolster our friendships with key countries. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the 13th Congressional District, which is home to so many major, world-class exporters.
"At the same time, I agree that America must continue to invest in the development of clean coal technology, solar, wind, nuclear power, and other renewable energy sources. Research on these important technologies will not only protect the environment and improve energy security, it will drive fuel prices down and economic growth up.
"As always, I was touched by the patriotism and positive energy that the State of the Union brings out. I look forward to working with the President and my colleagues in Congress to make 2008 a better year for all Americans. "