Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard: “The policies President Obama outlined in his State of the Union address are a victory for all Americans, and especially for middle-income families. As our economy continues to grow stronger, the President understands that America’s working families are not feeling the full impact of our economic recovery. Too many Americans are looking at their paychecks and wondering how they are going to pay all their bills, let alone set aside money for the future. That is why I am pleased the President’s speech outlined a bold and effective series of steps which will make Americans more financially secure and move more families up into middle-income status. “Among those proposals, the President will put more money in the wallets of working families by cutting their taxes.
“By proposing to give students two free years of community college, President Obama is giving our nation’s youth critical help in competing for the high-wage jobs of the future.
“The President’s support for reducing annual mortgage insurance premiums will help more Americans realize the dream of homeownership, including families in our own communities.
“By vowing to protect the Affordable Care Act against efforts to weaken it, the President is continuing his commitment to help Americans obtain affordable health care.
“I am glad that President Obama is taking bold action to expand paid leave for American workers, because paid sick leave, as well as paid family and medical leave, are essential to the health of our families, our children, and our workforce.
“Finally, I thank the President for standing by his executive orders to improve our nation’s broken immigration system and grant relief to qualified undocumented immigrants. I hope the President’s firm commitment to his executive orders will move Congressional Republicans to end their efforts to undo these immigration initiatives, and instead build on the President’s orders by passing bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform.
“I applaud the President’s agenda to help America’s families. For our nation’s recovery to take firm hold, all Americans need to feel a fuller benefit. It is long past time for members of both parties to unite around the President’s common-sense, mainstream proposals and get this important work done.”
Sen. Ted Cruz: “Tonight, America saw a powerful demonstration that it is time to move on beyond President Barack Obama. Just two months ago we had a national election, in which the American people spoke loud and clear and said the path we’re on isn’t working. The American people said the Obama economy isn’t working, millions are hurting, and we want a different path.
“Previous presidents have been on the receiving end of crushing electoral losses in midterm elections. And previous presidents, when that has happened, have come with contrition and said to the American people and to the voters ‘I hear you, I hear your message, and we will change paths.’
“Tonight the President told the American voters not only does he not hear their message, but he intends to do precisely the opposite. He intends to double down on the failed policies of the last six years. He intends to have yet more and more government spending and taxes and debt and all of the policies that are hurting hardworking Americans.
“Tonight, not a word was said about radical Islamic terrorism. Those words did not come out of the President’s mouth. We cannot win a war on radical Islamic terrorism with a President unwilling to even say the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’
“Tonight it was also striking: the President did not mention his illegal and unconstitutional executive amnesty. He issued that in defiance of the voters, in defiance of the Constitution, and in defiance of the law and yet when he stood at the State of the Union, he could not bring himself even to bring it up. It underscores the obligation of Republicans in Congress to honor the promises we made, to honor the promises number one: to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare and number two: to stop the President’s illegal and unconstitutional amnesty.
“And it also underscores that even if this President is not willing to work in a bipartisan way, even if this President is not willing to help solve the fiscal and economic problems facing this country that it’s time to move on. It’s time to move beyond him and to focus instead on new and bold leadership to bring back jobs, to bring back economic growth, to bring back opportunity, to rekindle the miracle of America.
“That’s what I saw tonight. Thank you and God bless you.”
Congresswoman Linda Sanchez: “Tonight President Obama laid out a vision for the country that builds on the progress we have made under his leadership and refocuses our efforts on helping working families succeed.
“Despite continued job growth and the lowest unemployment rate in seven years, too many American families are struggling to make ends meet. Stagnant wages, rising childcare costs, and the burden of college loans are making it hard for middle class families to make ends meet.
“Pursuing policies that prioritize higher education, address our broken immigration system, and reform our tax code field will give Americans the economic security previous generations enjoyed.
“While I understand Republicans will not agree with everything that President Obama outlined tonight, the time for partisanship is over. Our future as a country depends on Congress’ ability to set aside the bickering and find common ground. We cannot continue to let political games get in the way of progress and doing our jobs as legislators.”
Sen. Joni Ernst: “I’m Joni Ernst. As a mother, a soldier, and a newly elected senator from the great State of Iowa, I am proud to speak with you tonight.
A few moments ago, we heard the President lay out his vision for the year to come. Even if we may not always agree, it’s important to hear different points of view in this great country. We appreciate the President sharing his.
Tonight though, rather than respond to a speech, I’d like to talk about your priorities. I’d like to have a conversation about the new Republican Congress you just elected, and how we plan to make Washington focus on your concerns again.
We heard the message you sent in November — loud and clear. And now we’re getting to work to change the direction Washington has been taking our country.
The new Republican Congress also understands how difficult these past six years have been. For many of us, the sting of the economy and the frustration with Washington’s dysfunction, weren’t things we had to read about. We felt them every day.
We felt them in Red Oak — the little town in southwestern Iowa where I grew up, and am still proud to call home today.
As a young girl, I plowed the fields of our family farm. I worked construction with my dad. To save for college, I worked the morning biscuit line at Hardees.
We were raised to live simply, not to waste. It was a lesson my mother taught me every rainy morning.
You see, growing up, I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry.
But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet.
Our parents may not have had much, but they worked hard for what they did have.
These days though, many families feel like they’re working harder and harder, with less and less to show for it.
Not just in Red Oak, but across the country.
We see our neighbors agonize over stagnant wages and lost jobs. We see the hurt caused by canceled healthcare plans and higher monthly insurance bills. We see too many moms and dads put their own dreams on hold while growing more fearful about the kind of future they’ll be able to leave to their children.
Americans have been hurting, but when we demanded solutions, too often Washington responded with the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like Obamacare. It’s a mindset that gave us political talking points, not serious solutions.
That’s why the new Republican majority you elected started by reforming Congress to make it function again. And now, we’re working hard to pass the kind of serious job-creation ideas you deserve.
One you’ve probably heard about is the Keystone jobs bill. President Obama has been delaying this bipartisan infrastructure project for years, even though many members of his party, unions, and a strong majority of Americans support it. The President’s own State Department has said Keystone’s construction could support thousands of jobs and pump billions into our economy, and do it with minimal environmental impact.
We worked with Democrats to pass this bill through the House. We’re doing the same now in the Senate.
President Obama will soon have a decision to make: will he sign the bill, or block good American jobs?
There’s a lot we can achieve if we work together.
Let’s tear down trade barriers in places like Europe and the Pacific. Let’s sell more of what we make and grow in America over there so we can boost manufacturing, wages, and jobs right here, at home.
Let’s simplify America’s outdated and loophole-ridden tax code. Republicans think tax filing should be easier for you, not just the well-connected. So let’s iron out loopholes to lower rates — and create jobs, not pay for more government spending.
The President has already expressed some support for these kinds of ideas. We’re calling on him now to cooperate to pass them.
You’ll see a lot of serious work in this new Congress.
Some of it will occur where I stand tonight, in the Armed Services Committee room. This is where I’ll join committee colleagues — Republicans and Democrats — to discuss ways to support our exceptional military and its mission. This is where we’ll debate strategies to confront terrorism and the threats posed by Al Qaeda, ISIL, and those radicalized by them.
We know threats like these can’t just be wished away. We’ve been reminded of terrorism’s reach both at home and abroad; most recently in France and Nigeria, but also in places like Canada and Australia. Our hearts go out to all the innocent victims of terrorism and their loved ones. We can only imagine the depth of their grief.
For two decades, I’ve proudly worn our nation’s uniform: today, as a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard. While deployed overseas with some of America’s finest men and women, I’ve seen just how dangerous these kinds of threats can be.
The forces of violence and oppression don’t care about the innocent. We need a comprehensive plan to defeat them.
We must also honor America’s veterans. These men and women have sacrificed so much in defense of our freedoms, and our way of life. They deserve nothing less than the benefits they were promised and a quality of care we can be all be proud of.
These are important issues the new Congress plans to address.
We’ll also keep fighting to repeal and replace a health care law that’s hurt so many hardworking families.
We’ll work to correct executive overreach.
We’ll propose ideas that aim to cut wasteful spending and balance the budget — with meaningful reforms, not higher taxes like the President has proposed.
We’ll advance solutions to prevent the kind of cyberattacks we’ve seen recently.
We’ll work to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
And we’ll defend life, because protecting our most vulnerable is an important measure of any society.
Congress is back to work on your behalf, ready to make Washington focus on your concerns again.
We know America faces big challenges. But history has shown there’s nothing our nation, and our people, can’t accomplish.
Just look at my parents and grandparents.
They had very little to call their own except the sweat on their brow and the dirt on their hands. But they worked, they sacrificed, and they dreamed big dreams for their children and grandchildren.
And because they did, an ordinary Iowan like me has had some truly extraordinary opportunities because they showed me that you don’t need to come from wealth or privilege to make a difference. You just need the freedom to dream big, and a whole lot of hard work.
The new Republican Congress you elected is working to make Washington understand that too. And with a little cooperation from the President, we can get Washington working again.
Thank you for allowing me to speak with you tonight.
May God bless this great country of ours, the brave Americans serving in uniform on our behalf, and you, the hardworking men and women who make the United States of America the greatest nation the world has ever known.”
Congresswoman Grace Napolitano: “Tonight President Obama reminded us we are on the right track, but there is still work to do. He made his strongest case yet to strengthen the middle class through job creation and a fairer tax policy, so hardworking families can remain in their homes and see their paychecks go farther. 2015 offers a fresh start and opportunity to concentrate on what is good for the country. By putting politics aside and investing in our future together to create good-paying jobs, America can once again lead in the world economy.
“Our job in Congress is first and foremost to represent the people. In the San Gabriel Valley, I remain focused on our region’s most anticipated challenges and those we may not see coming. From increasing outreach to veterans and their families to preparing for future drought cycles and rebuilding our infrastructure, we must continue to work with local elected officials and businesses to meet the needs of our communities.”
Published: Jan. 22, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 41