House Republicans pan State of the Union
Congressional Republicans weren't very impressed by President Obama's State of the Union address; for his part, the president didn't hide his suggestion that it's Republicans who are resistant to compromise, leading some Republicans to jab the president, particularly regarding his lack of clarity on how he would replace the so-called sequester cuts set to slash defense and domestic spending on March 1.
"What has he done?" asked Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. "He signed the sequester, he agreed to the sequester, he came up with the sequester and then he complains about House solutions to actually try to deal with it. This president is more interested in campaign-style rhetoric than actual solutions."
While many said there is some room to work with Mr. Obama on issues like immigration, and even some gun safety measures, his new proposals on everything from education to repairing the nation's crumbling bridges were panned not necessarily based on merit, but on the president's claim that the new programs would not increase the deficit "by a single dime."
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"I think it doesn't pass the laugh test" said the chairman of the conservative House Republican Study group Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. "People realize the President promised to cut the deficit in half and it's more than doubled."
"It's economic fairy dust that this President's working with," added Gardner.
On the president's call to address climate change and become more energy independent, Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., called the president's silence on giving the green light to construct the Keystone XL pipeline to pump oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico "deafening."
Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Fred Upton, R-Mich., also said "With a stroke of the pen, the president could unleash this $7 billion private sector investment. Yet nowhere in this evening's blueprint for the president's policy vision was this critical middle-class jobs project."
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, who is expected to be a key House Republican player in immigration talks as a Hispanic-American from a conservative state, said the president's State of the Union this year was "one of the least inspiring speeches I ever heard him give."
But Labrador said he does think Republicans and Democrats will ultimately be able to come together on an overhaul of the nation's immigration system.
"As long as the president and his party don't draw a red line and say that they have to get everything that they want."
Labrador was less optimistic about gun control. He compared his home state of Idaho with low crime and few gun regulations to Mr. Obama's home state of Illinois as an example of why gun laws aren't necessarily effective.
"It has the most stringent gun control legislation and it has some of the highest crime in the United States" Labrador said of Illinois. "Clearly gun control is not going to protect those families."
And while Labrador said he believes the president cares about the victims of gun violence and their families that attended the speech, he said they should not be used as "political pawns."
Labrador said, however, that as a father of five children he was so upset by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that he could not speak of the shooting for two days. He said "if there's things that we can do to save lives without violating the second amendment I think we should consider it."
Democrats gave the speech high marks. In a statement, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she urged the two parties to work together and said "it is time to heed the President's call for real progress to reverse the rising tide of climate change, enact comprehensive immigration reform, and prevent gun violence."
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