Area Lawmakers Want Action on Terrorism

WHEELING — Several area members of Congress said they had hoped to hear more from President Barack Obama on his plans to combat the threat of Islamic State terrorism during Tuesday night's State of the Union address.

"To be fair, the president has had some successes over the last seven years. But at their kitchen tables, families are asking fundamental questions," said Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va. "Paraphrasing President (Ronald) Reagan, they're asking are they better off than they were seven years ago? And is the world safer today?

"To the first question, most West Virginians would say no. ... At the end of 2008, West Virginia had the seventh-best unemployment rate in the United States. Now we're in last place. The consequences of Obama's policies have been catastrophic for West Virginia's economy," he continued.

As for whether the world is safer, McKinley pointed to the threat of Islamic State terrorists, instability in Libya, Egypt and Yemen and North Korea's testing of new nuclear weapons.

"America's foreign policy is a disaster," he said.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said Obama's speech included little to ease concerns about the threat of terrorism or offer hope for the future of West Virginia's economy.

"In his final State of the Union, I had hoped the president would lay out a plan to improve the bleak economic outlook in West Virginia and other states," she said. "Instead, he vowed to move forward with catastrophic regulations that threaten jobs and impede energy development while doing little to actually improve the environment. West Virginia has been crushed by the president's policies, already shedding jobs by the thousands."

Capito identified Obama's discussion of the nation's drug abuse epidemic as an aspect of his speech around which she believes Republicans and Democrats can work together.

"In the year ahead, I will continue to look for solutions to end addiction, improve access to treatment and stem this mounting public health concern," Capito said.

Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, criticized Obama's address as "legacy hunting" at a time when the national debt continues to grow and America's labor participation rate at its lowest point in almost 40 years.

"Never in my lifetime have I seen a president seem so small and insignificant in the face of so many tremendous global challenges - challenges that require American leadership abroad, and the ability to unite at home," Johnson said. "Tonight's speech didn't change any of that, and he continues to preside over the downsizing of the American Dream - with a record number of Americans pessimistic about the future."

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, had not issued statements reacting to Obama's State of the Union address at press time.

Earlier Tuesday, Portman said he hoped Obama would reach out to Congress in a spirit of cooperation instead of giving "a political speech."

"Washington is already too polarized and it's hurting the families I represent," he said.

Manchin, meanwhile, said a $19 trillion national debt is not a legacy for Obama to be proud of, and the president's regulatory policy has hurt West Virginia's economy.

"He will talk about all the jobs he created. But I would say to him, you are president of 50 states, not 39 or 40. That's not what you are charged to do as a country," he said, speaking with reporters Tuesday morning.

Source: The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register