Virginia Delegation SOTU Reaction: Military Spending and Infrastructure

Jan 31, 2018

Credit Rog Cogswell, Creative Commons

Virginia lawmakers have mixed reactions to President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, especially on his call for a massive new infrastructure spending package.

At the start of the Trump administration Democrats laid out a massive infrastructure plan and said they were eager to work with the president on it. Virginia Democrat Bobby Scott says that offer still stands but he fears the GOP already spent all the money on other Republican agenda items. "We have a $1.5 trillion dollar tax cut and so it's going to be very difficult for them to pay for the infrastructure that he promised, fund the military and fund the other essential forms of government,” Scott said Tuesday night.

Republicans disagree. They’re praising the president for painting an optimistic picture of the U.S. economy. Virginia Republican Rob Wittman thinks it’s only going to get better from here. "I do think that the $1.5 trillion dollar tax cut is something that will grow our economy. So, I think those are good things."

As for funding the president’s one point five trillion infrastructure package, Wittman says if there’s a will there’s a way. "There are other things that we can do, I think, to find the dollars necessary. And you heard of him to be imaginative with state and local governments and the private sector to look at leveraging those dollars there. I think there's a lot of places for us to look at, to be able to get those opportunities to bring resources together to make that happen."

Even some Republicans are criticizing Trump for not providing enough specifics, but they say there’s time to flesh out the details.

While some Democrats booed or shouted out “lies” as the president spoke, other refused to even attend the address. Northern Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly attended but he says President Trump failed to reach across the aisle. "He never looked at the Democratic side of the aisle, and you could see for yourself. Democrats almost never provided any support for anything he had to say. We certainly supported honored guests, and their contributions to the country, but in terms of him and anything he had to say by way of a plan or a program or a principle, you know, no."

Virginia Republican Scott Taylor says Democrats are being petty. "Resisting is simply protesting. It's not performing for the people. So, I just think it doesn't make any sense. It's pretty stupid."

Taylor is a veteran and represents many of the commonwealth’s military installations and soldiers. He says Trump laid out a great vision and if enacted it will benefit Virginia.  "It was everything that I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear about what he did. I wanted to hear about what he's going to do. And I wanted to hear a tone that was going to bring people together to move forward on common things. And, obviously, I knew that he was going to speaking strongly about veterans and our military. So, I think he hit it out of the park man."

But with a hyper partisan Congress it remains to be seen if the president will see many legislative accomplishments during this election year.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.