**WATCH Senator Gillibrand’s Remarks HERE**
Washington, DC – Hours before President Trump gives the State of the Union, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced her priorities for New Yorkers and our country, and what she hopes to see included in the president’s address.
Below are Senator Gillibrand’s remarks as delivered:
Thank you for joining me. Tonight, President Trump will deliver his State of the Union address, touching on the developments of the past year and his agenda going forward.
Of course, President Trump and I have very different visions for our country’s future, and divergent perspectives on his performance.
Today, I am going to highlight our achievements from the past year, and share my vision for New York’s future.
Few things make me prouder than working for 9-11 first responders and their families. Eighteen years after 9-11, the 9-11 Victim Compensation Fund Bill was finally signed into law. This bipartisan bill extends permanent health benefits for police officers, fire fighters, and other 9-11 first responders who sacrificed their health to help others. I am proud that these heroes will finally get the benefits they’ve earned.
I’m also proud that we passed the Blue Water Navy Veterans Act. The bill ensures that sailors exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam will have presumptive health coverage through the VA.
Finally, we passed bills to address the harmful effects of PFAS, toxic chemicals that can damage our environment and cause serious health problems.
However, there is still much work to be done.
Just a few weeks ago, President Trump opened the door to cutting Medicare and Social Security, and he is currently fighting in the courts to gut protections for pre-existing conditions.
I will do everything in my power to stop that assault and pass legislation to improve Americans’ health care, from lowering drug prices through my Stop Price Gouging Act, to helping families recover from the addiction epidemic with the Family Support Services Act.
America remains as the only industrialized nation in the world without a national paid family and medical leave policy. We must pass the FAMILY Act so that caregivers can care for their loved ones, and ensure that new parents can provide a healthy start for their children.
America is sick of inaction on common sense gun reform. We must pass universal background checks, close the gun show loophole, ban assault weapons, and end illegal gun trafficking. These are priorities supported overwhelmingly by the American people.
We have to break the chokehold of the NRA, and we can do it, if we get money out of politics. My Clean Elections Act would create publicly funded elections, to make every American’s voice as loud as the Koch Brothers.
For nearly two decades, Congress has yielded its constitutional authority to declare war to the President. I am pushing back for Congress to take back this responsibility by passing my bicameral War Powers Reform Resolution, which would reassert Congress’ constitutional authority. We must end forever wars, and prevent them in the future.
Earlier, I spoke about the Blue Water Navy Veterans Act, which helps ensure veterans exposed to Agent Orange receive the benefits they deserve. The next challenge is burn pit exposure. Our veterans have gotten ill from toxic exposure to burn pits. I will lead the way in ensuring that they get the healthcare and assistance they need.
While President Trump will tout his new trade deal, too many American jobs are still being shipped overseas, while big corporations enjoy huge tax breaks. It’s time for this to end. Any company laying off Americans in order to find cheaper labor overseas should also be stripped of their tax breaks and contracting preferences. We must ensure workers have the right to join together to fight for the pay and protections they deserve.
Tonight, I am honored to host Hacheler Cyrille as my State of the Union guest. Hacheler lost her job when she fell on a conveyor belt at the airport while she was 17-weeks pregnant. She had requested accommodations for her pregnancy, but she says that her employer failed to provide them. Hacheler has been fighting for her right to organize to prevent this from ever happening again. I am proud to attend the State of the Union with her, and lend my voice to her efforts.
Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. We must pass the Green New Deal, ramp up our use of renewable electricity, phase out fossil fuels, and set a price on carbon. We need to invest in our public transit and fix our aging infrastructure.
Although the House has passed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the Senate has yet to vote on it. There is absolutely no excuse for this delay. This bill provides critical resources to protect victims and survivors from domestic and dating violence, and other forms of sexual violence. We must pass it immediately.
In New York, we have seen too many anti-Semitic attacks, and other forms of prejudice and discrimination. We must show the country and the world that we are united against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate speech and hate crimes.
Finally, we must show the American people that we will not stand for corruption, misconduct and immorality.
We must uphold the oath we swore to defend the Constitution.
We made progress in 2019, passing good bipartisan legislation that helps veterans, first responders, and New York families.
However, there is still much more to be done, and I’m ready to get to work.