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Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Representing the 12th District of Florida

Congressman Bilirakis Issues Statement in Response to State of the Union Address

January 30, 2018
Press Release

Please see the statement below from Congressman Bilirakis in response to tonight's State of the Union address. 


"I applaud President Trump’s bold and enthusiastic State of the Union address. He rightly focused on the undeniable economic revitalization that has been cultivated as a result of the pro-growth environment we have created by  passing historic tax reform to help middle class Americans and small businesses and the regulatory relief measures that have been signed into law over the last year.  Every day, we are seeing more businesses announce bonuses and expansion efforts that are putting real money in the pockets of every day Americans.  Millions of workers will also see increases in their take home pay over the next few weeks as the new tax law is implemented.   These positive results cannot be denied and efforts to diminish them are transparent and out of touch with the lives of hard working families.


I was encouraged by the President’s specific plans to build upon this success by investing in the infrastructure of our nation, which is long overdue.  This is something that I believe we can work together, across the aisle, to achieve.  We will have to ensure the infrastructure investment is made in a fiscally responsible manner.  As part of the way to fund the bill, I personally plan to propose redirecting funds currently spent on foreign aid to countries that hate America, and our values, back to this infrastructure project.  I believe that money can be better spent here at home.  As we work on infrastructure, one key is the existing regulations that currently stand in the way of necessary infrastructure improvements. For example, the Ridge Road Extension is a vital public safety project in Pasco County, and it has been waiting for federal permitting for almost 2 decades. I've been engaged on this issue for the past 4 years and have received assurances that the end is finally near. However, tonight the President committed to limiting federal permitting to one year. 


With respect to broader foreign policy; however, I agree that we must continue to work with our allies to ensure continued economic prosperity within an interdependent economy that leverages the strength of American innovation, American entrepreneurship and the American worker.  We must also present a united front against radical Islamic terror.  There is no other choice but to lead from a position of strength, and this requires continued investment in our world class military, which is what the House did with the bill we passed today.  Proper funding, at the levels requested by our military leaders, is essential to our national security.  If we are not safe, then nothing else matters.  Achieving this paramount objective is multi-faceted  and involves securing our borders, ending chain migration, and ensuring visas are granted on a merit basis. 


I was also proud to hear the President discuss the positive steps we have taken to help our nation's Veterans.  By empowering the VA Secretary to fire bad actors, streamlining the appeals process to ensure compensation claims are processed more quickly and fixing the problems within the CHOICE program to ensure Veterans have access to quality medical care close to their home, within a timely manner we are honoring our commitment to serve those who have proudly served us. 


Another important priority of mine that the President mentioned tonight was the work I have been doing in health care. The skyrocketing prices of Rx drugs have gotten out of control, which is why I have filed bi-partisan legislation to create competition within the generic drug market in order to bring down the cost of drugs. I have also been working to streamline the FDA approval process while maintaining safety standards in order to develop treatments and cures for rare diseases and get them in the hands of sick patients.  


While we work on these issues we must continue to make progress in tackling the opioid crisis. As the President mentioned tonight, it is a public health crisis. I helped secure $27 million in grants for the state of Florida with more on the way, and I remain committed to additional reforms that are needed as we have continued to see the death tolls rise in Pasco and Pinellas counties just this past year. With input from local Sheriffs and substance abuse professionals, I have incorporated meaningful provisions into legislation currently being considered. 


All of these issues reflect an ambitious agenda for the year ahead and I look forward to working with my colleagues in a respectful manner to find common ground and do the right thing for our country,” said Congressman Bilirakis.