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Rep. Martha McSally: Trump's SOTU Was Strong, Unifying

Arizona Representative Martha McSally said President Donald Trump's speech was "very strong," highlighted accomplishments
Posted at 9:55 PM, Jan 31, 2018

After President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address Tuesday, Newsy talked to several lawmakers about their impressions of the speech and priorities moving forward. Our full interview with Rep. Martha McSally is below.

Rep. Martha McSally: "I thought it was a very strong speech. It really highlighted the accomplishments of the last year that we've been able to do, working together: The historic tax cuts, opportunities for everybody. Our military is getting strengthened, ISIS is on the run, people are getting bonuses, and really being able to highlight all that, but also — in just a year — but also I think it was very unifying, strong and compassionate and focused on the things that really should bring us together, and that's what we're looking in the president and leadership. And I would really encourage our colleagues and everybody who is listening, let's put aside our differences and let's work together in that common vision and that common mission that he shared."

Newsy's Alex Miller: "He laid out a plan for immigration, which is obviously a very popular issue in Arizona."

"We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws and support our ICE and border patrol agents," President Trump said during the speech.

Alex Miller: "What did you think of the four-pillar plan that he put together?"

Rep. McSally: "Well, I have a piece of legislation that we're working through in the House that we've been working on for five months that addresses those pillars, plus some other issues that we think are the highest priorities. And we've got to get something through the Senate and the House, and the president does support our legislation as well. I appreciate that in the midst of what was going on in the Senate, I mean, he basically sort of put everybody on their heels, like, 'Well, what about this?' You know, he's showing that he is willing to negotiate, and some of the reactions that we saw to that, I think, showed some people's true colors, that they weren't willing to even, accept what he was offering. And so we've got to work through this. We do have some time, there's not a fake crisis in front of us in the next week and a half. These are complex issues, and it's got to get through both houses and signed by the president. So we're going to keep working on our bill in the House, getting more support for it as we go to our planning sessions here for the rest of the week and see where we can find that commonality to solve the issues. Our focus is border security. I represent a southern border district, one of only nine members of Congress who represents a border district. Eighty miles of the border. I brought Sheriff Mark Dannels here from Cochise County with me as my guest because this is such a critical issue for us. And I think we now have a partner, in the president, who is committed to making sure that we really secure our southern border. This is not a — I mean, this is serious business, this is not something to play around with. There are cartels that are trafficking through our communities. It's a public safety threat. And I think we now have the will and a partner in the White House that's willing to put the resources behind actually addressing this issue and securing our border. We've got to address the other issues that are public safety, MS-13 gang, sanctuary cities, all those types of things, because we've got to make sure that we have a safe country. And as we're dealing with the DACA population, we have to have a path forward that is fair for others who've been waiting for a long time. It doesn't reward or incentivize illegal activity or future illegal activity. And it makes sure we get to the root causes of why we have a DACA population in the first place so we're not in this same place again. And so that's really our focus on the House, and we'll keep working on it moving forward."

Alex Miller: "As someone who is on the front lines, I just wanted to get your reaction to what the president said about securing our border through an immigration program."

Sheriff Mark Dannels: "Well, on behalf of all the sheriffs in this country and law enforcement in general from state, local and federal: It's refreshing. It's very refreshing. Working with Congresswoman McSally on border issues, all different legislation that comes with that, I'm very excited to hear that. It — tonight was a speech that was very balanced, brought a lot of hope, brought a lot of achievement to the table. And if we can unify like he asked, I think we can make a lot of movement in this country for the good of America. And I think that's very important."

Alex Miller: "Do you think he did a good job of explaining why we need border security to be part of this legislation and not something that's separate from a DACA deal?"

Sheriff Dannels: "Oh, I think he did a very good job explaining a lot of his — bringing people to the table that have actually got personal experiences and suffered tragedy in this country based on a border that's not secure. So yes, I thought he did an awesome job doing that. And what we're trying to do — working in law enforcement for over three decades — we try and make communities safe. That's what it's all about. And I've got a president that says, 'Hey, I want to work with law enforcement on all levels to make that happen.' How could I not be happy with the speech tonight?"

Alex Miller: "As a veteran, you know, he spoke a lot about national security."

"I am asking Congress to ensure that in the fight against ISIS and Al-Qaeda we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists, wherever we chase them down, wherever we find them. And in many cases, for them, it will now be Guantanamo Bay," President Trump said during the speech.

Alex Miller: "He mentioned keeping Guantanamo Bay not only open but active. Do you support that?"

Rep. McSally: "I totally support that. Look, we've got terrorists, this is a generational fight. We've got people out there that have killed Americans, that are plotting right now to kill us, our troops and our families and our way of life. And we've got to be able to detain them and be able to continue to fight this fight until it's over. I mean, that's the whole idea of a combatant is until the war is over, you are a combatant. And so there is no other place for some of these hardened terrorists to go. I have personally, when I was in the military, seen some of these individuals, terrorists, who were released in the past from Guantanamo, found their way back in the battlefield, and we were having to fight them again. And they were risking and killing Americans again. This is not the right thing to do, and we have got to make sure that we are keeping these terrorists at bay."

Alex Miller: "It was an hour and a half speech. Was there anything missing that you wish that the president had touched on or gone into a little bit more depth on?"

Rep. McSally: "I feel like the president did a great job tonight. Again, he wanted to communicate directly to the American people on what has actually gotten done in the last year. Sometimes it's hard to get through all the rhetoric and the all the hysteria and the resistance out there about what's actually happened since he's been in office just one year. And I think he laid out a very strong vision and unifying vision for the future: for our military, for our veterans, for everybody to have the opportunity to live the American dream; for border security, for infrastructure, the opioid crisis. I would encourage anybody at home, anybody who didn't vote for the president, anybody who doesn't even like the president, to listen to that speech again, and it should have impacted your family somehow. Something that he talked about matters to you. So let's all get on board, because there's more that unites us than divides us, and I really appreciated the hopeful, visionary, optimistic, future that he's talking about. And we all want that for our country as well."

Alex Miller: "Do you think that he's going to be able to, you know, not only reach across the aisle, but he talked about infrastructure and immigration, things that are not always popular in the Republican Party. Do you think that you're going to be able to get some of the Republicans that might be against a bipartisan immigration deal or against funding infrastructure on board with this kind of legislation in 2018?"

Rep. McSally: "Well, again, when it comes to the immigration issues, we have got to fix our failed immigration system. Now, we don't want to be tripping into anything comprehensive. But if we look at the root causes of why we have a DACA population, we have to address those issues. We have to secure our border. There are strong priorities that Republicans want that Americans should want, that the people I represent want, as we're looking forward to any sort of issue on this topic of immigration and border security. So I think there is a place to find common ground. Not everybody is going to get everything they want, but that's the way the Founding Fathers set it up. On infrastructure, every community is seeing, I think, hope in a future that we need stronger infrastructure. For us, we have the opportunity for increasing our ports of entry. We're a border community, and we really need some greater ports of entry. Douglas Port of Entry is one in a community I represent in Cochise County. It was built in 1933, is woefully underfunded and undersized for what's needed. And 90 percent of the hard drugs are coming through our ports of entry. So when it comes to infrastructure, this is something that's important for security and for increase in commerce and economic growth. But when we're talking about roads and bridges and airports and seaports, this is something that is worth investing in America, and we've got to do it as good stewards. We can't just be, you know, running up tabs that we can't pay. And so working with the president and the Senate and the House on both sides of the aisle, we have to figure out a plan that reinvests in our country and moves it forward."