WASHINGTON President Barack Obama has used his fifth State of the Union address to tell lawmakers that he's still willing to work with Congress. But Obama said he'll sidestep obstructionist lawmakers "whenever and wherever" necessary to reduce the wage gap between rich and poor.
One executive action he'll take is to increase the minimum wage for some federal contract workers to a minimum of $10.10.
The president called on Democrats and Republicans in the House to follow the Senate's lead and approve an overhaul of immigration laws. He called on them to pass legislation this year.
He also addressed foreign policy. He said any U.S. troops that remain in Afghanistan after 2014 will only help continue to train Afghan forces and carry out counterterror operations against extremists.
Obama also said negotiations to limit Iran's nuclear program will be difficult and may not succeed. But he warned Congress that any new economic sanctions against Tehran while the discussions are ongoing will be vetoed.
Statement from Senator Time Kaine:
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on President Obama’s State of the Union Address tonight:
“Tonight the President laid out a practical agenda with specific ideas to continue moving our country forward by creating more opportunities for all Americans and rewarding hard work. I’m glad he was optimistic about where our nation’s economy is headed, because I am too. And I agree raising the minimum wage to $10.10 is exactly the boost our country needs next, along with other steps to restore economic security for hardworking Americans and their families and help long-term job seekers find work. I hope the President continues to challenge Congress to tackle these priorities and other issues like the debt ceiling by building on the bipartisan spirit we’ve seen with passage of a budget agreement, an appropriations package, and most recently a deal on the farm bill.
“I’m also pleased the President addressed one of my biggest priorities for 2014 – ensuring we are investing in a skilled workforce. By strengthening career and technical education, we can help Americans get the right training for the 21st century jobs that are available today.”
Statement from Bob Goodlatte:
Congressman Bob Goodlatte released this statement following President Obama’s sixth State of the Union address:
“Tonight’s speech talked a great deal about opportunity, but little about how the policies of his Administration have consistently stood in the way of those hard working Americans looking for a brighter future. I would agree with the President that it is our shared responsibility as Americans to ensure the promise of opportunity that generations of Americans have experienced. However, the President's push for yet another round of failed big spending, big government programs like Obamacare is the latest example of just how out of touch with the needs of average hard working Americans he is.
“At every turn throughout his time in office, President Obama has sided with big government policies that restrict the freedoms and liberties of Americans. He spoke of opportunity tonight, but it is impossible for Americans to take advantage of what opportunities are out there when the heavy yoke of the federal government is stopping job creation, stifling individual rights, and generally holding back the great promise of America. The House has passed dozens of measures which give our nation’s entrepreneurial spirit the opportunity to thrive and advance prosperity. If the President is serious about restoring opportunity, there is a growing stack of House-passed bills promoting job creation waiting on the Senate’s doorstep that he should support.
“I was also alarmed by the President’s brazen announcement that he intends to act on his own where he cannot work with Congress. The Constitution does not confer upon the President the ‘executive authority’ to disregard the separation of powers by unilaterally waiving, suspending, or revising the laws. Circumventing Congress, the people’s branch, to enact his bad policies is completely unacceptable. I will continue to pay very close attention to the President’s executive actions and will continue my efforts as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to conduct strong oversight of what he does, and does not do, as President.”
Statement from Senator Mark Warner:
Senator Warner released this statement following the President’s State of the Union tonight:
“Tonight, the President announced plans to expand economic opportunities for the middle class. I also will continue working to pass significant bipartisan legislation I have proposed that will power job growth: promoting more business startups, investing in infrastructure, and reforming the government’s role in housing finance to protect taxpayers while preserving access to affordable home mortgages. I would have liked to hear more about our nation’s fiscal challenges in tonight’s speech, and fixing our debt remains one of my top priorities.”