Weekly Democratic Address
February 3, 2018
Hi, I’m Senator Tina Smith from the state of Minnesota.
Earlier this week, President Trump delivered his first official State of the Union address. It was my first State of the Union as well. I’ve only been a member of the Senate for a little over a month. So I was eager to hear the President’s ideas for how best to move our country forward. I do not see eye to eye with President Trump and Republicans in Congress on many issues, but I firmly believe that people don’t send their elected representatives to Washington just to squabble. They send us here to get things done. So, where we are able to identify areas of common ground, and where the President is willing to work in good faith, I, and many of my colleagues, stand ready to work with him.
One of those areas is the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, an issue that President Trump addressed in his speech. Already expensive drugs and new price hikes are hitting Americans’ wallets hard and forcing families to make tough trade-offs. It’s not fair for Minnesotans and people across the country to pay twice what other nations pay for prescription drugs. Democrats have put forward proposals that would allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices and require that drug companies play by a fair set of rules, but Republicans have refused to put patients before profits. They need to work with us in order to tackle this issue and bring down the high cost of prescription drugs.
President Trump also addressed the need to invest in infrastructure. Democrats have long advocated to make smart investments in rebuilding our roads and bridges and modernizing our schools and hospitals. President Trump called for investing 1.5 trillion in infrastructure, which sounds great, but the devil will be in the details. If the President commits to making a serious investment from the federal government, he’ll have a partner in me and many of my Democratic colleagues, but if the plan that the President and Republicans in Congress unveils is little more than a giveaway to giant companies that stand to make huge profits, you can count us out.
When it comes to bipartisanship, President Trump talks a good game, but we expect him to back up his words with action. And, regrettably, what we’ve seen over the last year tells a different story.
When it came to health care, President Trump and Republicans in Congress refused to work with Democrats and pushed purely partisan bills that would have taken away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans. President Trump and Congressional Republicans – again, without meaningful input from Democrats, also passed a tax law that overwhelmingly benefits the richest 1% of Americans, and that will actually increase taxes on millions of middle-class families.
And then there’s immigration. In September, President Trump made the callous decision to end DACA, a program that allows nearly 800,000 young people brought to this country as children, including more than 6,000 DREAMers in my state of Minnesota, to live and work without fear of deportation. But when Democrats and Republicans joined together and presented him with a compromise, bipartisan proposal. President Trump rejected it out of hand. Instead, he has held DREAMers hostage, offering them a pathway to citizenship, but only in exchange for his most hardline anti-immigrant proposals.
When it comes to bipartisanship, President Trump must match his deeds with his words. The challenges we face can only be met if we meet them together, not just as Democrats or Republicans. Mr. President, Democrats stand ready to work with you, but if you are unwilling to work with us in good faith, know that we won’t back down from the fight.