(Editor’s note: The following is a statement from U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) following the final State of the Union address by President Barack Obama:
WASHINGTON — “Tonight, in his final State of the Union address, the president reminded the American people how strong we are and how far we’ve come. He reminded us that ‘We the People’ means all and urged us to focus on what unites us — a commitment to hard work, an enduring courage, and the same grit and determination that helped us overcome the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and set our country on a path to a brighter, more innovative, and more secure future.
“As we continue working together to move our country forward, we must not forget our progress or take for granted the hard work that helped us reach this point. When the president took office seven years ago, our country was losing 800,000 jobs a month, too many Americans had to choose between buying groceries and providing healthcare for their families, and the American auto industry was in crisis. Today, our country is experiencing record job growth, 17 million Americans have healthcare coverage for the first time, and the American auto industry has come roaring back, ending 2015 with record-breaking sales.
“This is a true American comeback story, yet more progress is needed to ensure every American has a shot at their own comeback. Tonight, the president rightly reaffirmed our responsibility to ensure that young people aren’t burdened by crushing student loan debt and that families don’t face financial hardship because their child gets sick or they need to take time off to care for a loved one. We must continue working to ensure American families have the tools and support they need to get ahead and build a secure future.
“We also must continue to innovate, which is why it was so important that the president highlighted the comeback of the auto industry. Now the industry is poised to enter a new era with connected and autonomous vehicles, and it is critical that we continue to make investments in this area so the testing and development of these technologies stay in the United States. As we saw at the North American International Auto Show, Michigan is still in the driver’s seat when it comes to producing and designing next-generation vehicles and I cannot wait to see the president there next week. Many promising new technologies have the potential to completely transform transportation in this country and can increase safety and decrease energy use. We are already working to convert the former Willow Run plant in Ypsilanti into a testing facility for autonomous vehicles. We’re going to be working hard to ensure the United States continues to build, test and debut the most innovative cars and trucks in the world and make sure that the auto industry, the backbone of the American economy, continues to thrive.
“These are not Democratic or Republican priorities. It will require teamwork and all of us pulling together to cross the finish line, which is something our guests at tonight’s State of the Union know something about. Coach Jim Harbaugh and his wife, Sarah, are true inspirations. Coach Harbaugh inspires his team to work together every day and embodies hard work, determination and teamwork. He represents the best of what this country is and should be, and that’s something we need more of in Congress. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to continue our American comeback story.”