Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate delivered the Democrats’ formal response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address tonight with a blistering speech that called the shutdown a “stunt.”
Abrams delivered the Democrats’ response from the IBEW Local 613 union hall in southwest Atlanta with several members of IBEW Local 613 in the audience behind her, blasting the shutdown as a ‘stunt’ that hurt working Americans.
“Just a few weeks ago, I joined volunteers to distribute meals to furloughed federal workers. They waited in line for a box of food and a sliver of hope since they hadn’t received a paycheck in weeks,” Abrams said. “Making their livelihoods a pawn for political games is a disgrace.”
“The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the President of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people–but our values,” Abrams added.
During the 35-day shutdown, more than 800,000 federal workers were furloughed or forced to work without pay while Congress worked to reach a temporary budget deal.
Abrams also talked about the importance of voting and giving every citizen the best opportunity to make their voice heard.
“This is the next battle for our democracy, one where all eligible citizens can have their say about the vision we want for our country,” Abrams said. “We must reject the cynicism that says allowing every eligible vote to be cast and counted is a ‘power grab.’”
Abrams went on by touting the progress made with the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, but cautioned that there was still a lot of work to be done.
“We fought Jim Crow with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, yet we continue to confront racism from our past and in our present — which is why we must hold everyone from the very highest offices to our own families accountable for racist words and deeds, and call racism what it is. Wrong,” Abrams said.
The need to overhaul elections has become a top Democratic priority, which was reflected in Abrams’ speech. House Democrats have passed several reforms, including making Election Day a federal holiday, automatically registering voters and overhauling campaign finance laws.
Abrams also criticized Trump and Republicans for being out of touch with the economic needs of every day Americans.
“In Georgia and around the country, people are striving for a middle class where a salary truly equals economic security. But instead, families’ hopes are being crushed by Republican leadership that ignores real life or just doesn’t understand it,” Abrams said. “The Republican tax bill rigged the system against working people. Rather than bringing back jobs, plants are closing, layoffs are looming and wages struggle to keep pace with the actual cost of living.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra delivered the Democrats’ Spanish-language response to the president’s State of the Union.