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Fact-check: Stacey Abrams delivers Democratic response to State of the Union

NBC News examines claims of bipartisanship in Georgia, maternal mortality, the tax cut, and voting reforms.
Image: Stacey Abrams
Stacey Abrams gives the Democratic response to the State of the Union on Feb. 5, 2019.

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams delivered the Democratic response to President Donald Trump's second State of the Union address.

Abrams gave an impassioned speech criticizing Trump on a number of issues, including the recent partial government shutdown that made history as the longest shutdown in history.

Here is how some of her claims stand up to the facts.

Claim: A bipartisan history in Georgia's legislature

"So, when we had to negotiate criminal justice reform or transportation or foster-care improvements, the leaders of our state didn’t shut down — we came together," Abrams said.

Abrams pointed out the bipartisan support for these measure during her time as Democratic leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, while lambasting Trump for the 35-day government shutdown.

Georgia did in fact pass several of these reforms with overwhelming bipartisan support, some during Abram's tenure and some after.

Abrams notably worked on Georgia's Special Joint Committee on Criminal Justice Reform in 2011, which recommended provisions for a 2012 reform law that passed the House 162-0.

The state's more recent criminal justice reform bill, SB 407, passed in the House 172-0 and was signed by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2018, several months after Abrams left office.

Similarly, a bill to dramatically expand Georgia's transit system, HB 930, passed in a 172-0 vote in the chamber. Abrams voted in favor of a 2015 transit bill that would allow for additional revenue to be used to fund the state's transportation system.

A bill to overhaul the state's adoption system in order to make it easier for potential parents, HB 159, passed in the state's House in a 168-0 vote last year; the first vote took place in the House while she was still Democratic leader, but did not pass both houses until the next year.

Claim: GOP tax bills 'rigged the system' against working class

“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,” Abrams said.

Trump claimed that the GOP tax reform bill would give working families relief, and while the majority of Americans — including the working class — did see a tax cut, corporations were the biggest benefactors. Corporate tax cuts are permanent, while individual tax cuts are set to expire in 2026.

There’s little evidence that the tax bill has created more jobs, either. A study published last month by the National Association of Business Economics found that while some companies reported accelerating investments because of lower corporate taxes, 84 percent of respondents said they had not changed plans.

"A large majority of respondents, 84 percent, indicate that one year after its passage, the corporate tax reform has not caused their firms to change hiring or investment plans," NABE President Kevin Swift said, according to CNBC.

However, several prominent corporations, including General Motors, have pointed to the president’s tariffs — and not the tax bill — as the cause of layoffs and plant closures.

Claim: American mothers risk death to deliver birth

This is true. The U.S. has one of the highest maternal death rates in the developed world, the World Health Organization reported.

Black women are three to four times more likely to die than white women during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of the factors that contribute to the death of pregnant women are persistent poverty and inadequate health care.

Claim: Americans must reject the belief that voting reforms are a 'power grab'

Abrams' statement is a jab at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who took issue with a Democratic bill in the House, known as H.R. 1, the "For the People Act of 2019," that proposes a series of election reforms.

McConnell criticized the bill last week, taking issue with the bill's effort to make Election Day a paid federal holiday and to give additional paid time-off for federal workers who wish to work on campaigns.

"A power grab is smelling more and more like exactly what it is," McConnell said Wednesday.

The bill would also require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns and encourage states to adopt public campaign finance systems.