President Donald Trump will address Congress tonight amid an impeachment trial and in an election year, with Republicans and Democrats more divided than ever on their commander in chief. That backdrop makes for one of the most peculiar State of the Union addresses in the country’s history. What should Trump say?
The Tampa Bay Times asked Florida’s two U.S. senators and its 27 representatives what they hope to hear tonight from the president. Just like last year, each member of the delegation was asked to provide one word to describe the current state of the union. Republicans were optimistic. Democrats, less so. Division was a common theme. “Encouraged." “Fractured.” “Surging.” “Hot.”
Their responses are below. The story will be updated as more answers are provided.
Sen. Marco Rubio, Republican: Didn’t provide one word.
2019 response: “Encouraged.”
"The president deserves tremendous credit for bringing China to the negotiating table. I hope to hear the president discuss how his administration plans to continue their efforts to address the U.S.-China relationship. This is the defining geopolitical issue of this century, and finding a peaceful and workable path forward for our two nations will require us to increase our national strength. That is why I am wholly committed to furthering our national development through 21st-century American industrial policy compatible with and complementary to our free market system. The stakes could not be higher because the outcome will define the 21st century.
“I am also looking forward to the president discussing issues that families in Florida and across the country are talking about at their kitchen tables, not what fuels the media frenzy in Washington, D.C. Floridians are worried about the cost of living, how expensive it is to raise a family, and to pay for college. They want to be able to provide their children with the best opportunity in life to succeed, which means being able to decide what school is best for them. After spending the last few weeks on a partisan impeachment, I am looking forward to focusing on the priorities of the American people.”
Sen. Rick Scott, Republican: “Opportunity.”
2019 response: “Jobs”
“I look forward to hearing President Trump outline his plan to continue growing the economy and creating even more opportunities for American families, as well as his plan to make sure the men and women of our Armed Forces have the resources they need to protect our nation, support our allies and stand up for freedom across the globe.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach: Awaiting response.
2019 response: Didn’t answer.
Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Panama City: “Outstanding.”
2019 response: “Angry"
“The need for House and Senate Democrats to end their years-long partisan witch hunt into our duly elected President and get back to the business of working for the American people. Despite Democrats’ efforts, our country is experiencing unprecedented economic growth. Americans across the country in every income group are seeing the highest wages and salaries in decades and more than 7.3 million jobs were created in the last three years. I am committed to working with President Trump and his administration to keep this momentum going.”
Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville: Awaiting response.
2019 response: Didn’t answer.
Rep. John Rutherford, R-Jacksonville: “Winning!”
2019 response: “Great”
Rep. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee: “Fractured.”
2019 response: “Divided”
“I hope the president will discuss America’s crumbling infrastructure, the housing crisis, access to affordable health care, stronger consumer protections for student loan borrowers and a path to a more united nation. The State of the Union address should unify all Americans rather than further divide us. We are at a tumultuous time in our democracy, and it is vital that we bring our country together. I would like to hear the president deliver real solutions, and resolve to work with congressmembers of both parties in the best interest for all Americans.”
Rep. Michael Waltz, R-St. Augustine: “Strong.”
2019 response: “Resilient”
“Despite impeachment and a divided Congress, America is bouncing forward with a strong economy set to explode in the wake of new trade deals. Over the past year, President Trump has also kept our country safe. From taking out terrorists to providing for our military, the President has delivered. One of the biggest accomplishments for the future of our national security was the creation of the Space Force, the sixth branch of the military responsible for protecting our satellites and other assets in space. Florida has a significant role to play in the Space Force due to our history of shuttle launches and already-existing space infrastructure. I hope to see President Trump touch on the importance of the space industry, which will bring jobs and economic growth to our state.”
Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Winter Park: “Impatient.”
“Americans are tired of partisan gridlock and inaction. They are impatient for bipartisan solutions to end the gun violence epidemic, fight climate change, and reduce the cost of health care and prescription drugs. They want a Washington that works for them.”
2019 response: “Progress.”
Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge: “Move on.”
2019 response: Didn’t reply.
“I hear a lot from constituents who want Congress to break the gridlock, move on from partisan politics and get to work passing the priorities of the American people. I hope the President will urge members of Congress to work together.”
Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando: “Chaotic."
2019 response: “Crossroads”
Rep. Val Demings, D-Orlando: “Tested.”
2019 response: “Opportunity”
“In America no one is above the law. In America everyone counts, and everyone is accountable. The Senate may or may not choose to uphold our treasured values. But the American people will have the last word.”
Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Clermont: “Strong.”
2019 response: “Stronger."
How the economy has prospered for hardworking Floridians and the importance of investing in infrastructure.
Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor: “Strong.”
2019 response: “Dynamic”
“Congressman Bilirakis is hoping to hear about the President’s plans for building consensus on how to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, lower the cost of Rx drugs and more effectively tackle the problem of Veteran suicide," spokeswoman Summer Robertson said.
Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg: “One word isn’t sufficient. We’re the strongest nation in the world but we face significant challenges.”
2019 response: “I’m an optimist, hope springs eternal, especially when so much is at stake.”
“A serious commitment to combating climate change and sea level rise, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. There’s bipartisan acknowledgement and support to tackle those issues head-on this Congress.”
Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa: “Hot … and getting hotter!”
2019 response: “The importance of the climate crisis."
“The climate crisis is harming the people and places we love. Our health and way of life are at risk. The president must stop ignoring the climate crisis, which has exposed Florida to stronger hurricanes, increased flooding and dangerous summer heat indexes that push way past 100 degrees. Trump has sided with polluters over the public at every turn – including fuel economy, clean air, clean water and drilling off of Florida’s beaches. Trump’s policies have made it more costly for families and businesses to withstand the impacts of the climate crisis. The president should acknowledge that we’re running out of time to take meaningful action to protect future generations. America has an incredible opportunity to create good-paying jobs in the clean energy economy and save consumers money, and it is time for America to lead the way.”
Rep. Ross Spano, R-Dover: “Surging.”
2019 response: “Engaged.”
“I am looking forward to hearing President Trump speak on issues that directly affect FL-15 constituents: issues like transportation, small business, and human trafficking— and how we can continue to grow our booming economy.”
Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota: “Strong.”
2019 response: “Resolute”
“Ending Washington dysfunction and toxic partisanship.”
Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota: “Prosperous.”
2019 response: Didn’t reply.
“I applaud President Trump on his signing of the MISSION Act to improve our veterans’ healthcare options and I look forward to hearing his continued plans to improve the quality of care veterans in Florida, and across the United States, are receiving at our VA facilities. In this State of the Union address, I would like to hear from the president about how he intends to build upon this success to specifically address the access issues facing many rural veterans. I want to hear how we can increase community based healthcare options for a new generation of American veterans, including giving them a True Choice in their healthcare provider.”
Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City: Awaiting response.
2019 response: Didn’t reply.
Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Naples: “Divided.”
2019 response: “Florida’s economy is directly tied to our ecology.”
“I would like to see the President call for an enactment of policies to address the threats to Florida’s environment and economy from sea level rise that endangers our coastal residents, to the increase in the deep ocean heat content that produces more intense hurricanes, and the need to institute a ban on offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, east of the Military Mission Line (which we passed out of the House in September). These are issues which would enjoy bipartisan support and could begin to heal both our environment and the political divide we are facing in Congress.”
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar: Awaiting response.
2019 response: “It is my hope that the State of the Union takes a more balanced approach following the President’s disastrous shutdown last month."
Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach: “Divided.”
2019 response: "Something needs to be done about the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs.”
“Trump should talk about the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs and urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to finally take action by passing the Lower Prescription Drug Costs Now Act, which the House passed in December. This legislation would give Medicare the power to negotiate with drug companies, lower the costs of the most expensive drugs for all Americans, and stop pharmaceutical companies from charging more for drugs that are cheaper in other countries.”
Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton: Awaiting response.
2019 response: "Make our communities safer.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston: “Resolute.”
“The President needs to tell families he will stop his attacks on access to quality, affordable health care, and retract his stated interest in exploring cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Tonight I, along with my Democratic colleagues, stand resolute in our defense of Americans‘ access to quality, affordable health care and in opposition to Trump’s contempt for the Constitution and the reality of climate change
2019 response: “Polarized.”
Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens: “Scary!”
2019 response: “Misrepresented (by the White House)”
“I would like to hear Mr. Trump highlight voter protection and what he is going to do to protect the vote of my constituents and ensure that every vote is counted. What is the government going to do to prevent Russian or other foreign interference in the November election. What is being done about voting equipment that needs upgrading or does not create a paper trail? How will he help restore voting rights of people who have paid their debt to society like Floridians voted in favor of. How can he reassure voters that the election will not be rigged like the rigged impeachment with no witnesses was?”
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami: Awaiting response.
2019 response: “Strong”
Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Miami Dade and Monroe Counties: Did not provide one word.
2019 response: “Eager for truth.”
“President Trump will have a momentous opportunity to put people over politics and work with House Democrats to create meaningful change for our country. I am hopeful that seeing the younger generation of environmental leaders, like my guest tonight, Marsella Munoz, at this historic event will remind the president of the need to prioritize the conservation of our coral reefs, the protection of our clean water and addressing climate change. My colleagues, our guests, and I will serve as a reminder to the president that he has been historically absent in addressing environmental issues, putting forth a plan to expand access and lower the cost of quality health care, while protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions, and working with Congress to enact sensible gun safety measures that are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans. South Florida and the nation does not have time to wait—we need action now.”
Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Coral Gables: “Polarized.”
2019 response: “Exhausted”
“I would like see President Trump talk about his plans to expand access to affordable, quality health insurance in light of his administration’s efforts to dismantle the ACA and get rid of insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions—something that impacts so many people in Miami-Dade and across the state of Florida. I would also like to hear about the President’s thoughts on allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for everyone. He has spoken in favor of it before and now that the House has passed a bill that allows direct negotiation. I hope he will lend his support and help pass the bill in the Senate.”