This evening, President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address to the nation. This will be the President’s final State of the Union as our Commander-in-Chief, and I am confident that, despite the incredible challenges we face as a nation, he will provide an inspirational and uplifting message as we embark on a new year with renewed hope, promise, and opportunity.
In a preview video on the White House website, the President confesses that, “since I took office seven years ago, in the midst of crisis, I don’t think I have ever been more optimistic about a year than I am right now.” I share his optimism, because no matter what obstacles we face, I know that the American spirit is resilient. And it is with that sense of optimism and enthusiasm that I humbly begin another year of serving you in Congress.
As my own State of the Union, so to speak, I want to let you know what my priorities will be for 2016. First, as a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, the safety of the American people is among my top priorities. I will continue to fight for policies that support our men and women in uniform, that care for our veterans, and that protect our national security at home and abroad. We live in a complex and ever-changing threat landscape, but we will not bow to terrorism or those who seek to dismantle our way of life.
Cybersecurity is a major component of not only national security, but of economic security, as well, and you can trust that I will remain a national leader in this area. As founder and co-chair of the Cybersecurity Caucus, I will push for more legislation that fortifies our cyber defenses, and for programs that better prepare a cyber workforce for our future. Strengthening information sharing and protecting critical infrastructure are at the top of this to-do list.
Closing the skills gap so we have qualified workers to grow jobs and our economy is an issue for cybersecurity and for so many other industries. I look forward to reaching across the aisle once again with my Career and Technical Education Caucus co-chair, Congressman ‘GT’ Thompson of Pennsylvania, to support policies that empower students and put them on a path to success. In particular, I hope we can pass my Counseling for Career Choice Act this year in order to ensure young people have all the information they need to make the right career choice.
The list goes on. I want to end gun violence by passing commonsense reforms that keep guns out of the wrong hands. I want to pass meaningful tax reform that supports a strong middle class. I want to fix our broken immigration system so we have stronger border security and provide a clear path to citizenship for those who seek the American dream. I want to improve upon the Affordable Care Act that has already reduced Rhode Island’s rate of uninsured residents by nearly 80 percent.
Friend, we can do all of these things, and I hope that 2016 is the time to do them. In his preview, President Obama said that what makes America great is “our capacity to change for the better.” Let’s change for the better this year and chart a brighter course for 2016 and beyond. I will be listening carefully to the President’s words tonight, but speeches aside, I can’t wait to take action to make 2016 a year for the record books.
Member of Congress