Four of the eight Republican members of the Virginia congressional delegation issued reactions to President Barack Obama's 2014 State of the Union message on January 28, in addition to the official GOP response delivered by Washington state Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
Sixth District Representative Bob Goodlatte, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, released the most extensive response, offering general remarks as well as comments on four specific policy issues (immigration, FISA reform, the economy, and abusive patent litigation).
Goodlatte expressed his alarm over “the President’s brazen announcement that he intends to act on his own where he cannot work with Congress. The Constitution does not confer upon the President the ‘executive authority’ to disregard the separation of powers by unilaterally waiving, suspending, or revising the laws. Circumventing Congress, the people’s branch, to enact his bad policies is completely unacceptable.”
Regarding NSA spying and FISA reform, for instance, Goodlatte said that “President Obama finally acknowledged what I and many others concluded long ago, namely, that the Section 215 bulk telephone data collection program is in need of significant reform. I am glad that the Justice Department has already taken one step this week to help provide greater transparency to the American people about the nature of our intelligence-gathering programs. However, we need more than small administrative fixes—we need legislative action in order to ensure our nation’s intelligence collection programs include real protections for Americans’ civil liberties, robust oversight, and additional transparency.”
Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA9) said in his prepared statement that if Obama “is not willing to roll up his sleeves and work with Congress – even with those of us who generally disagree with him – then he is a failed leader. Shame on him for not seizing on the spirit of bipartisanship of the last two months in Congress, and instead threatening to rule by executive dictate. He must follow the Constitution and stay within the framework envisioned by our Founding Fathers, a framework of checks and balances where policy is debated and crafted by an executive branch and a legislative branch, neither of which can govern without the other. “
Forbes on Facebook
In a post on his Facebook page, Fourth District Representative J. Randy Forbes wrote: “There are many today who find it hard to believe that the big government that paws at their businesses and prys into their healthcare, might have a small ear when it comes listening to their private conversations. There are those that understand that a weak national defense is most often an invitation to confrontation, rather than an overture of peace. They argue that we ought to care less about a celebrity named Justin and more about the justness of forcing our children to pay tomorrow’s chits for today’s overspending. And they believe opportunity, as Thomas Edison said, is missed most often because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work. It is these people who give me hope – and because of them, I am certain our union is still strong.”
Virginia Beach's Rigell
Finally, Representative Scott Rigell (R-VA2) said in a press release that “the President made clear that he will continue to issue executive orders whenever he finds that Congress does not agree with him. By advancing his agenda with an end-run around Congress, the President weakens the structure framed by our Constitution, and that which is so essential to good governance. Americans voted in favor of a government that operates within a system of checks and balances, and the President does not have the authority to work around the law.”
As this article went to press, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA7) had not released a separate response to the State of the Union; nor had Representatives Rob Wittman (R-VA1), Robert Hurt (R-VA5), or Frank Wolf (R-VA10)