Republican House leaders said they want to hear foreign-policy specifics from President Obama at tonight’s State of the Union speech — an address that advisers have noted will focus on “visionary” goals for America.
Outside of a closed caucus meeting on the Hill today, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said “while we’re not certainly expecting much new, there is one thing that we hope to hear from the president, and that is a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS.”
“Americans are so anxious right now about their security, about what’s going on around the world. Just look at what happened today in Istanbul in the tourist district where at least 10 people were killed. We’ve passed a law requiring the president to put forward a plan to defeat this threat and I hope that he will deliver,” Ryan said.
He added that Americans who “want to hear from a leader who has gotten things done” and “a positive vision to make America confident again,” they should tune in to the GOP responses delivered by Gov. Nikki Haley and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), who will give the Spanish-language response.
“I’m hopeful it’s not one of those farewell tours for the entire year of just speaking of what he thinks could have been accomplished,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said. “But the one thing that the speaker talked about, the number one issue in the country we hope the president talks about is security. From Paris to San Bernardino to Philadelphia to Istanbul this morning, we’re living in an unsafe world and it has to be addressed.”
McCarthy noted that before Obama enters the chamber tonight the House will have voted on new sanctions on North Korea. Tomorrow, before lawmakers leave for their retreat, the House will vote on new Iran sanctions, for which Obama has already issued a veto threat.
“You will find today’s vote will be a very large bipartisan vote from Republicans and Democrats,” he added. “If the House is addressing this issue, we hope the president will address the issue in his State of the Union.”
Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said “it’s clear to most people across the country” that Obama’s plan to fight ISIS “is not working.”
“So the president, if he wanted to reach across the aisle, would find a lot of strong bipartisan support to come up with a new plan to defeat ISIS and a willing partner in Congress to get that done,” Scalise said. “Unfortunately, he hasn’t taken that opportunity, hasn’t done that yet. I’d like to see him do that tonight. It’d be a good opportunity for him to take a different approach to help keep America secure, something that he’s failed to do so far.”
Diaz-Balart hoped Obama “will talk about how he will support our allies and how he will confront terrorism with a real plan, which we have not gotten to this day.”
“And also, what is he going to do to help those who are now, for example, just got elected in Venezuela? There’s a new parliament — elected a new congress elected in Venezuela. It’s struggling to just be able to take control of that parliament. What is the president going to do to help them?” Diaz-Balart added.
“What is the president going to do to help the people in Iran who are struggling for freedom and are giving their lives? What is the president going to do to confront the Castro regime that has now re-arrested some of those 53 that the president claimed was one of his big victories and now even we’ve learned has a high-technology missile from the United States, refuses to give it back, and the president again continues to give concessions? So I’m hoping that we will hear a president who understands that you have to support our allies, confront terrorism and tyranny, to make sure that the American people continue to be safe.”