Congressmen React to SOTU
President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address last night included several initiatives for the year.
President Obama: "Tonight, this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: it is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong."
Obama's speech followed the standard tradition of talking about ideas, identifying issues and suggesting solutions. Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko of the Capital Region represents New York's 20th Congressional District. "I was happy to hear the tone of a focus of taking care of business here a home and providing for the upward mobility of the great number of us in the middle income community."
Hudson Valley Republican Congressman Chris Gibson, who represents the 19th district, says he listened for passages in the State of the Union where he and the president would see eye to eye. "I thought there were some areas where we could find common ground to help our constituents. Specifically with the priority to expand opportunities, economic growth and creating jobs."
During his address, the president vowed he would "take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families," essentially using executive authority to bypass Congress. Paul Tonko: "Well you know I'm a big believer in the legislative process. I think there's a great strength that comes with the legislative involvement. It fine tunes and gives that local flavor that strengthens the final consensus. However, this president has implored Congress over and over again and gone out of his way to approach us in a bipartisan spirited way and if we ignore that and with the sense of urgency for some of the issues there's no choice so he will circumvent congress but he is giving us that opportunity to act professionally bi-partisanly and in a way that will engage the legislative branch of government which is important."
Chris Gibson says the president hasn't really been a “big player” in issues between Republicans and Democrats in either chamber. "and today we passed the farm bill in the house, the conference report we're looking forward to the senate passing it as well and sending it to the president. I have heard the president intends to support it. We're excite about that. And then a water bill that will come shortly afterwards that will be a compliment to the Sandy Aid bill, that with both the farm bill and the water bill, the president really wasn't a big player. So when he says that he wants 2014 to be a year of action, I agree and I welcome I would like to see the president more involved because tax reform is not gonna be easy and we can use his help and his engagement."
The ball is now in the president's court as the nation waits to see his next move.