Markey Statement on President Obama’s Final State of the Union Address

Washington (January 12, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) issued the following statement after President Obama delivered his final State of the Union address. Senator Markey’s guest at the address was Massachusetts gun violence prevention and opioid addiction recovery leader John Rosenthal. John is co-founder of several of Massachusetts’s most effective organizations addressing public health issues such as gun violence, homelessness and substance abuse.

“President Obama’s message tonight to the American people was clear: We have come far but there is more work to do to ensure that all Americans can maximize their God-given abilities. He recognized the challenges that lay ahead, and offered a vision of our nation’s future built on the time-honored values of fairness, hard work and opportunity. I was honored to be joined tonight by John Rosenthal, a Massachusetts leader who has dedicated so much of his life and career implementing innovative solutions to some of our nation’s greatest challenges.


“As America goes, so goes the world on climate action. As a nation, we have made significant progress in the transition to a clean energy economy, creating good jobs building wind turbines and installing solar panels, and reducing the pollution causing climate change. American leadership was key to reaching the global climate agreement in Paris. Now we must continue to lead the global clean energy revolution that will make a 100 percent renewable economy a reality.


“Leading on climate change means leading by example in how we manage the oil, gas and coal resources that belong to the American people. I welcome the President’s call to implement reforms that I have been fighting for to ensure that we are not worsening climate change by giving away these fossil fuel resources at bargain basement prices.


“Last year saw more Americans die from opioid overdoses than from auto accidents, and this public health crisis is only worsening. I applaud the President’s commitment to work with Congress on the substance abuse and addiction scourge that is devastating families. The fight to end the prescription drug and heroin epidemic is my number one priority this year, and it should be for the entire U.S. Congress. We need to expand access to opioid overdose remedies, mandate medical education on safe prescribing and increase treatment and recovery services. The least we can do this year is pass legislation that will help stem the tide of this epidemic.


“We cannot allow the empty seat at tonight’s address to be an empty promise to Americans to stop the mass shootings and gun violence that is devastating neighborhoods in Massachusetts and across the country. President Obama has taken popular and sensible action to reduce gun violence through executive actions, and now it is up to Congress to stand up to the gun lobby and pass commonsense gun safety legislation, including strengthening background checks and implementing smart gun technology. 


 “President Obama inherited two wars, a meltdown in the nation’s financial markets and a severe economic recession on the day he took office. He has shown tremendous leadership, optimism and dedication addressing the challenges we face at home and abroad. His hope for our nation has not wavered, and tonight’s address outlined the values and aspirations that will continue to guide our nation, this year and beyond.”