Casey, Toomey outline what Trump should highlight in State of the Union address

Steve Tawa
February 05, 2019 - 2:35 pm
From left: Sen. Pat Toomey, Sen. Bob Casey

Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/MCT/Sipa USA; Chris Dunn/York Daily Record via USA TODAY NETWORK

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Each member of Congress gets to take a guest to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday evening, and Pennsylvania's U.S. senators have symbolic reasons behind their choices. 

In advance of the address, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey held separate conference calls with reporters. 

Casey will have in tow a TSA officer and Army veteran from Pittsburgh. During the recent government shutdown, Monica Hughes' family had to use their savings and apply for food stamps to make ends meet.

"I want him to say that there will be no more shutdowns. This is impacting the wrong people," she said.

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Toomey is bringing a CEO from the Lehigh Valley, the senator's home turf. John Malloy, a business and community leader — plus a personal friend of Toomey — runs the Easton-based Victaulic, the world's largest manufacturer of mechanical joints for piping systems. 

Both know Trump will be standing before a Congress bitterly divided over his demand for border wall funding, which resulted in a 35-day partial government shutdown.

Toomey said the president has made a strong case for stronger border security. He hopes for compromise legislation, rather than Trump declaring a national emergency to bypass Congress on Feb. 15, the deadline for another agreement to keep the government open.

"I'm not very comfortable with an emergency declaration," said Toomey. "It's entirely possible that the president has the legal authority to do that."

Casey said declaring an emergency "does not make any sense and is not warranted."

"These should be left for more real emergency situations," he added, "where Congress isn't available in a few hours' notice — there's some crisis — and the president has to act."

Casey continued that instead of "trash-talking the process," Trump should take both the emergency declaration and the possibility of another shutdown off the table, and work on bipartisan solutions.

"Leave the TV drama to some other walk of life," he said.

Toomey also wants the president to underscore the strength of the economy.

"This is the strongest economy of my adult lifetime. Economic growth has surged, unemployment has dropped tremendously," he said.

Casey, however, wants the president to stay more fully engaged on what he calls "the country's urgent infrastructure needs."

"We've got more than 4,000 structurally deficient bridges in Pennsylvania. It would be good to have an infrastructure investment that could prioritize those and to start repairing them," he said.

Casey also is pushing for his big-ticket agenda item to help children get a better start in life, comparable to the Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild Europe after World War II. His to-do list includes early learning, health care, children's safety and economic security.