I had the distinct honor of watching President Obama deliver the State of the Union Address in the House Chamber. It was my first State of the Union as a Member of Congress, where I proudly represent the 15th Congressional District of California. We have big challenges in front of us, but while watching the President with my congressional colleagues I was reminded of our nation’s ability to come together and do big things to move our country forward.
President Obama’s speech laid out a strong agenda that will grow our economy and create jobs – my foremost priority as a Congressman. I was pleased by the President’s unequivocal support for clean energy – an investment I believe will help our economy and our environment. I also agree that we must bring down the deficit in a balanced way, so not to shoulder middle class families, students and seniors with the burden of deficit reduction.
There were many memorable moments from the speech, but one that will always stick with me is President Obama’s impassioned words about gun violence. It was especially moving to hear these words while in the same room as many gun violence victims, including former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
As a prosecutor, I saw too often the impact of gun violence on our communities, and tragic mass shootings from Newtown to Aurora show that we cannot wait any longer to act. We must enact commonsense gun violence prevention measures such as 100 percent background checks when purchasing a rifle and banning access to military-style assault rifles – a law already on the books in California.
One view that is clearly bipartisan is the need for immigration reform – both Democrats and Republican Members were applauding the President’s remarks about fixing our broken immigration system. Immigration reform should include allowing high-skilled foreigners educated at American universities to stay in the U.S. and contribute to our economy rather than competing against us. It also must feature a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers already living in the country.
We cannot do this alone. We need to come together in a bipartisan way to grow the economy and move forward as a country. That is why I arranged to sit next to Congressman David Valadao (R-CA) at the State of the Union as a demonstration of bipartisanship. While there may be policy differences, we can only accomplish big things when we work together.
It is a privilege to represent the 15th district and was a fantastic experience to be on the floor for the first time during a State of the Union Address. I look forward to following-through on the agenda the President laid out during the speech to keep moving America and our economy forward.