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Rep. David Cicilline says Biden's State of the Union address struck the right tone

The Providence Journal
The Providence Journal
 2022-03-02
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Large numbers of Americans continue to lose their lives to COVID-19.

Americans are divided politically like never before, with large numbers of Republicans continuing to rally around a former president, also a potential future candidate, Donald Trump, who refuses to acknowledge that he lost the 2020 election.

And last week the United States was unable to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from launching a brutal attack on Ukraine.

So was President Biden reaching a little when he referred to the “State of the Union” as “strong” in his address Tuesday night?

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline says the president was correct to say the union is “strong” because “the American people are strong.”

“I think his speech hit the right tone," Cicilline said Wednesday. “It acknowledged the challenging moment we're in, the tremendous progress he made.”

In his outlook on the Ukraine situation, Cicilline said he sees strength in the president’s leadership, the Western alliance and the sanctions imposed on Russia.

He called them “crushing” and said he believes they will weigh heavily on Russian’s oligarchs and power elite.

"They're going to put pressure on Vladimir Putin and realize this is not going to end well," he said.

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“This is not just about Ukraine and not just about the security of Europe, but the security of the international architecture that kept peace and stability around the world,” Cicilline said. “It matters a lot that we repel this kind of aggression by a dictator like Putin who won't stop at Ukraine if he can proceed without consequence.”

Cicilline, who has visited Ukraine, says the world “has now seen ... the strength and the resilience and the determination of the Ukrainian people.”

“We have to make sure they have all the help that they need to prevail in this fight,” he said.

4 charts:Explaining Biden's State of the Union address

For context, he provided examples of such help: lethal assistance, ammunition, arms, training, intelligence and obviously now humanitarian assistance.

When he was asked if the president has been progressive enough, Cicilline focused on the Build Back Better legislation that failed to win passage in the Senate last year.

"I always think that progressive refers to core Democratic values," he said. 'If you look at Build Back Better, those are extraordinary: Child care, paid family leave, support for small businesses, a serious attack on the climate crisis. It provides substantial help to working families, which I would consider progressive."

Cicilline said every provision in the legislation is "wildly popular" with "working people."

The defeat of the bill came down to two Democratic senators, Cicilline said — Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va.

What does the progressive response to President Biden's State of the Union address mean?

Now, he said, Democrats just need to get a better read on what was problematic for the two holdouts in the party.

Challenging Cicilline for the First Congressional District seat in the House, Republican Allen Waters said Biden’s infrastructure proposal was "loaded with wasteful partisan spending on pet projects."

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