Senators share hopes for speech

Pennsylvania senators Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville and Bob Casey, D-Scranton, both hope President Trump will address the recent government shutdown as well as commit to infrastructure improvements in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, among other things.

“I think the President has a very strong case for physical border security this newly invented notion by the Speaker that all of a sudden for the first time in history that I know of it is no longer acceptable to have a wall at our border that it’s somehow became immoral,” Toomey said to reporters Tuesday.

Although, Toomey said, the president should be more flexible on the amount of money to be made available and the timing, “it’s ridiculous” that some think we can no longer enhance border security, citing previous legislation such as the 2006 Secure Border Act, under President George W. Bush.

The president, however, should not revert to issuing an executive order to elicit funds, said Toomey. “I’ve said all along that I have a very strong preference that we do this through a legislative process.”

Toomey said he was in favor of President Trump negotiating strongly.

“Let’s be candid. Speaker Pelosi refuses to negotiate even after reopening the government,” said Toomey. “Which she said was the precondition necessary and she still says there can be nothing for a wall.”

But neither Congress nor President Trump had any interest in another shutdown, according to Toomey.

The United States economy being the strongest it has been in years; Toomey cited low unemployment rate among African Americans, Hispanic Americans and people — previously sidelined — coming back into the workforce, Toomey said he wanted the president to underscore that success story.

“Exactly as we had predicted, and hoped, that all of this growth is putting upward pressure on wages, and we’re now finally getting wage growth that’s distinctly above and beyond the rate of inflation, so workers are enjoying a higher standard of living,” said Toomey, who largely attributed it to the president’s emphasis on deregulation and tax reform.

Lastly, Toomey wanted to hear how President Trump views foreign policy, especially in regards to American forces in Syria, U.S. relations to Russia, negotiations with North Korea and trade deals with the European Union, United Kingdom and Japan.

In recent Tweets and interviews, Casey too, supported the notion that the president focus on avoiding another government shutdown, but also was focused on government workers who were affected.

He should speak directly to the shutdown, he should say ‘there won’t be another shutdown for as long as I’m president,’“said Casey, during an interview with CNN. “He should work to make everyone affected in the 120,000 federal workers, not just with back-pay but with other help as well.”

There is a lot of room for compromise on border security, said Casey, but recommended security that would be effective against stopping drugs from flowing into the United States — specifically 90 percent of cocaine and 80 percent of fentanyl in the U.S. comes from the U.S./Mexico border.

“We have to recognize what works with border security and I think there’s a lot of compromise within that negotiation but its not going to help if the president just tries to demonize and divide,” said Casey.

Infrastructure would be an easy avenue for the president to take that would garner bipartisan support, said Casey. “In our state we have more than 4,000 bridges that are structurally deficient, we’ve got a lot of bad roads and high-speed internet that’s not available in rural areas.”

Investing in infrastructure would create more job opportunities and raise wages, according to Casey.

On a more personal side, Casey said he hoped the president would lay out a comprehensive agenda for children, on issues such as early education and childhood nutrition.

Casey said he hopes the president uses language that unifies the country.

“The president has to lead it, the president not only has to say it once but to lead it and demonstrate it,” said Casey. “He has that opportunity tonight and we’ll see if he does”

Casey was not available for futher comment as of Tuesday afternoon.