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Katko: Biden's State of the Union address a 'mixed bag'

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Central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) called President Biden’s State of the Union speech this week, a mixed bag. Katko, a four-term Republican, gave a Biden thumbs up for the administration’s handling of severe sanctions against Russia following the Ukraine invasion.

“There’s more they can do and more they should do, and I hope in coming weeks they do that,” Katko said. “But for the most part, you’ve got to give him props for dealing with the sanction component of it."

Katko was also happy to hear Biden say he rejects policies of defunding police.

“That was a major swat to the left of his party,” he said. “So I applaud him for that as well if he wants to build up police forces again."

But Katko said there were some major disappointments.

“He literally did not mention cybersecurity in his speech,” said Katko. “And that was shocking to me given the fact that the number one threat to the country, by far, from a Homeland Security standpoint is cybersecurity."

Katko, the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, said Russia is likely planning cyberattacks against the United States.

"You can bet your bottom dollar that very serious cyberattacks are being contemplated by Russia at this very minute against us,” he said. “They use a series of proxies within Russia to do that. They’re perfectly capable of creating mayhem. And we have to work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s a very serious problem.”

He was also upset that Biden didn’t address border security.

“In the age group of 16 to 40, the number one killer is drug overdoses, and that’s never happened before,” he said. “It’s because the border’s not secure, and people are flying over the border in record numbers, and that pulls Border Patrol off the front line and makes it easy for drug traffickers to get drugs across."

This was Katko’s last State of the Union address as a member of the House, as he’s retiring from his seat at the end of this year.

"Definitely a little nostalgic for sure. But I’m comforted by the fact I can see the State of the Union anytime I want on the floor of the House. I have access to the floor for the rest of my life.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.