North Country Congressional Reaction To State Of The Union Address

Jan 21, 2015


President Obama’s State of the Union address touched on a number of issues of concern in New York’s North Country and Vermont.

Vermont’s congressional delegation praised President Obama’s vision for the country. The state’s senior senator Democrat Patrick Leahy released a statement in which he agrees that partisan bickering must end, stating: “The weeks and months ahead in this new Republican-led Congress will be a test ...of whether they ....are willing to set aside...hyper-partisanship....”

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders agreed that the economy is stronger, but notes that millions of middle-class families are struggling. In a statement, said: “I support many of the initiatives the president outlined. His plan to make the wealthiest Americans pay more in taxes in order to reduce the rising cost of college and childcare moves us in the right direction...”

Meanwhile Democratic Congressman Peter Welch says the president spotlighted the country’s most pressing domestic issue - the middle class economy and prosperity.  “The economy is stabilizing and it’s giving everybody a little breathing space to focus on what really is the heart of the challenge and always has been: how do we give a pay raise to folks who have been working hard and haven’t seen the benefit of this recovery? I think people are getting a little more confident that that may be in the future.  I think it was a perfect opportunity for the president to say ‘Look it’s all hands on deck for the middle class.  Let’s help them figure out how to pay for college. Let’s figure out how to create jobs by rebuilding our roads and bridges. Let’s figure out how if we have tax breaks or tax cuts it’s going to put money in the pocket of middle income families.’  So I thought that was really a good message.”

President Obama called for bipartisanship in the 114th Congress—something Vermont Representative Welch is hoping for.  “Anything that we’re going to do that benefits America and will be sustainable always has to be bi-partisan. And there is a different dynamic, it’s not just what the president’s speech called for.  The Republicans have won the election and they’re in charge in the House and in the Senate. So they understand, Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell, that they’ve got to have something to show for being in power. That’s a strong incentive for them to try to pass legislation. And if they want to do that, as opposed to just pass message bills like repeal health care another 55 times, they’re going to have to work with the president and with many of us on the democratic side who are willing to work with them.”

Northern New York Congresswoman Republican Elise Stefanik is the youngest woman ever elected to the House. She says she will work with anyone who has solutions that benefit the North Country.  “I think the president should be taking his own advice and reaching out to Congress to work with them. We saw an historic number of veto threats issued at a State of the Union, more than any other president previous for veto threats. What I’m excited about is if you look at some of the legislation that has passed out of Congress over the past two weeks we’ve had significant bipartisan support. The Keystone Pipeline Act is an example. We’ve had fixes for Obamacare. One passed unanimously. So while I appreciate that the president referenced reaching across the aisle I think we deserve better from the White House and  and a willingness to work with Congress.”

This was President Obama’s sixth State of the Union address.