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The following are statements released in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday:
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard: “The President’s themes of opportunity, action and optimism were inspiring and are demonstrated clearly in the need for comprehensive immigration reform. By taking action and bringing a comprehensive immigration bill for a vote in the House of Representatives, we will expand our economic opportunities as a nation and create a brighter future for generations to come.
“The President was right: When women succeed, America succeeds. As the founder of the Congressional Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, I know that immigrant women are key to helping America succeed.
“Currently, our broken immigration system divides families and is especially hard on immigrant women. It makes them vulnerable to violent partners and unscrupulous employers, trapping them in abusive relationships and dangerous jobs. It keeps immigrant women in the shadows, unable to make the most of their talents and skills.
“Comprehensive immigration reform will bring these women out of the shadows, and enable them to seek fair treatment and wages, helping to lift their families out of poverty.
“I will continue to work with the President and my colleagues in Congress to ensure that the unique needs of immigrant women are represented in immigration reform.
“I was also pleased to hear the President’s plan for continuing to grow the economy, including making sure people earn a living wage. The President has taken a bold first step by raising the minimum wage for new federal contract workers to $10.10, and it is now time for Congress to pass legislation that raises the minimum wage for everyone. I am a proud cosponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage act which would raise the minimum wage across the country to the same level.”
Rep. John Boehner: “In one of the great traditions of our democracy, the president is invited to the House chamber each year to discuss how he and Congress can work together for the American people. After five years, President Obama is clearly out of ideas. With few bipartisan proposals, Americans heard a president more interested in advancing ideology than in solving the problems regular folks are talking about. Instead of our areas of common ground, the president focused too much on the things that divide us – many we’ve heard before – and warnings of unilateral action.
“The president must understand his power is limited by our constitution, and the authority he does have doesn’t add up to much for those without opportunity in this economy. The real answer for the president is to refocus his priorities and work with us on the things that we can achieve together to create jobs and promote greater opportunity: expanded markets for American exports, a solution to our broken immigration system, better skills and education programs, patent reform, new energy and water infrastructure, or any of the dozens of other House-passed bills awaiting action.
“Unlike the president, Cathy McMorris Rodgers delivered a personal message that transcended politics. She showed that when we focus on empowering people, rather than government, we can close the opportunity gap in America and allow people to meet their potential. She made clear that Republicans are not just the alternative party, but the party with better solutions. I applaud her for a job well done.”
Rep. Loretta Sanchez: “Tonight, President Obama called for a year of action, and I couldn’t agree more. I have always believed in the power of ideas over ideology and I stand ready to move forward on many of the issues the President spoke about tonight, issues that I have spoken about for years and issues that I believe have stalled long enough.
“We need to enroll every eligible American in the quality, affordable health care now available through the Affordable Care Act. We urgently need to extend emergency unemployment insurance for Americans who are doing all they can to find work and provide for their families. It is imperative that we pass comprehensive immigration reform for the 11 million people living in the shadows. We need to make early-childhood education universal because the best way to bridge the achievement gap in the twelfth grade is to do it in preschool. We must ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work and we must raise the minimum-wage nationwide so that those working fulltime aren’t living in poverty. And, as always, we need to make sure that our troops have all the support they need both on the battlefield and at home. The VA backlog must be eliminated so that our wounded warriors get the care they deserve.
“These are not novel ideas, but in this political climate it can be difficult to see the path forward. The President expressed – fairly – his disappointment with congressional dysfunction in 2013. I intend to work with my colleagues and with the President so that this year will, indeed, be a year of action worthy of the American people.”
Rep. Rob Woodall: “Tonight the President outlined his agenda for the upcoming year. While I too hope 2014 will be a year of action, it must not be a year of unilateral action by the President, and I will be working relentlessly with my colleagues in the U.S. House to ensure that it is not.
“President Obama expressed his frustration with Congress’ inability to come together on legislation that moves the country forward, and I share his frustration that the United States Senate, under the leadership of Harry Reid, has yet to begin the process of taking up the 171 bills that have been passed by the House and now sit unheard in the Senate.
“In these times of divided government the task of building consensus is difficult but absolutely crucial. Sadly, the President spoke much more forcefully about his willingness to go it alone than about his willingness to build solutions together. We cannot simply sit still while the country atrophies with partisanship, but neither can we allow the Executive Branch of government to assume more power than the Constitution allows.
“Notwithstanding his words tonight, my hope is that the President, and my colleagues in both the House and Senate, will embrace this Constitutional directive and craft the collaborative solutions that our Founders intended. The American people and the future of our great Republic depend upon it.”
Sen. Mike Lee: “Americans know in their hearts that something is wrong. Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the ‘American Dream’ is falling out of reach for far too many of us. … We are facing an inequality crisis – one to which the president has paid lip-service, but seems uninterested in truly confronting or correcting.”
Ilyse Hogue (president of NARAL Pro-Choice America): “Today, the American people saw two very different visions for America. President Obama laid out a bold, proactive plan to improve the lives of millions, while the Republican Party in the House of Representatives spent the day rolling back basic freedoms for women across this country.”
Published: Jan. 30, 2014 – Volume 12 – Issue 42