Tuesday night President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address before Congress.
Nationally televised, the hour-long speech in the House chamber was short on policy details and focused more on being urging Americans to be more tolerant.
“I want to focus on the future,” the president opened his speech.
Obama continued, “America has been through big changes before – wars and depression, the influx of immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, and movements to expand civil rights. Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears.”
Here’s what the Alabama delegation had to say about his final speech:
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL):
President Obama’s policy agenda on trade, crime, immigration, spending and debt all have one common feature: they make life harder for working Americans and put the country at needless risk.
With wages down, record numbers not working, and crime rising in cities across the U.S., the next person to occupy the oval office will have to chart a dramatically different course.
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL):
Tonight’s address was another political speech full of empty rhetoric that offered no real solutions to the issues facing American families and businesses each day. While the President used the podium tonight to tout his record, Americans at home know that he is poised to leave behind a legacy of failed policies that have damaged our economy and made America weaker across the globe.
The American people deserved to hear from the President tonight about his real, comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism. They also deserved to hear that he will not circumvent Congress, unilaterally infringe on law-abiding Americans’ Second Amendment rights, or allow thousands of improperly vetted Syrian refugees into our nation.
The American people are sick and tired of this President’s blatant disregard for the Constitution, policies that prioritize what is best for Washington over what is best for America, and speeches to score political points. While I’m pleased that this is his last State of the Union address, the American people would be better off if it were his last day in office.
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01):
If you like the direction our country is headed, then you probably enjoyed tonight’s speech. If you don’t think our country is headed in the right direction, then you were probably disappointed. I certainly was.
President Obama tried to paint a rosy picture tonight, but the facts simply aren’t on his side. A quick glance around the globe shows our enemies growing stronger and our allies under attack. Right here at home, wages are stagnant, our borders remain unsecured, and veterans still aren’t receiving the care they deserve.
Tonight marks the beginning of the post-Obama era, and it is time to start looking past this time of big government toward an America where the government actually works for the people and not the other way around.
U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02)
For all President Obama’s lofty rhetoric and aspirational soundbites, tonight’s speech offered little in substance for how to actually address the nation’s problems. I was particularly disappointed that, once again, the president came up short of delivering a bold, decisive, comprehensive strategy to defeat Islamic State terrorists. Instead, we got a lecture on the semantics of war.
I did appreciate President Obama admitting how he regretted the deep divisiveness of his presidency. He said he wants to ‘do better,’ and if he’s serious, he can start by engaging with the people’s elected representatives rather than attempting unilateral executive orders every time he doesn’t get his way.
Unfortunately I believe we can count on the opposite. That’s why I remain committed to fighting Executive Branch overreaches at every turn, should they occur. Whether it’s an attempt to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants or a power grab by the Environmental Protection Agency or a threat to erode Second Amendment rights, Congress must stand up and fight back against abuses of executive power during this last year of President Obama’s time in office.
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-03):
Tonight’s speech will be more of the same. Over the past seven years, we have seen our country’s economy struggle, watched our national debt grow to astronomical numbers and lost our spot as a defense superpower in this world. We have watched the Federal government grow and become more intrusive in our day to day lives at the expense of our Constitutional rights. I am relieved President Obama’s time in office is coming to an end because no matter how much ‘hope and change’ was promised, our country is weaker and more polarized than ever.
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04):
The good news is that this was the President’s final State of the Union address. The bad news is that just like his previous seven addresses to Congress, it was unfortunately filled with the rhetoric, partisanship and divisiveness the American people have rejected.
President Obama is probably now worried about his legacy and exactly how he will be remembered. I do not think history will be kind to President Obama. We have seen that Obamacare is an abject failure. There is still no plan for defeating ISIS. The Iranian deal has isolated our allies while emboldening our enemies. And it is not fiction that our economy actually remains stagnant both in terms of growth and take home pay.
The focus of my conservative colleagues and I is to spend the next year focused on restoring a confident America and getting back to the basic principles of the Constitution. An America where people are empowered to make their own decisions and go after their own dreams and get government out of the way.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05):
No statement available at this time.
U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (AL-06):
No statement available at this time.
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07):
President Obama’s legacy will be one of a man who sought to unify a divided nation, and whose very election illustrates how far our nation has progressed since Martin Luther King, Jr., dreamed of equality.
… We cannot, as President Obama wisely noted, adhere to what Lincoln called the ‘dogmas of the quiet past.’ President Obama has once again called on our nation to work hand in hand to create more opportunities for our families and to raise our standard of living.
… Despite the gains our country has made and the vision that President Obama has outlined, Congress’ blind allegiance to party politics has gotten in the way of progress. We have witnessed a backlash to many of his signature achievements – from the passage of the Affordable Care Act to re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba – and such resistance done nothing to advance our collective national agenda. I implore my colleagues in Congress to set aside politics, and to work with President Obama in his final year at the White House.