Lawmakers Praise, Deride President Obama’s First State of the Union Speech


Several lawmakers spoke with us in the U.S. Capitol immediately after President Obama’s State of the Union address Wednesday night. Here’s what they had to say about the speech and the road ahead:

Rep. Mike Pence, R- Ind., is a member of the House Republican leadership. He said he approved of the president’s call for fiscal discipline but that he was disappointed that he wants to freeze some government spending later, instead of now. Pence added that he was profoundly disappointed that President Obama renewed his commitment to a “government takeover of health care.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said that the president was calling on the Senate to give bills an up-or-down vote, instead of using delaying tactics to stall legislation. “Stop the filibuster,” Leahy told us. “The American people want us to vote.”

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said he liked 80 percent of what the president said in the speech, but was sure that he would disagree with 80 percent of what President Obama will likely do. “He is not willing to do the necessary things to get job growth,” Hensarling told us.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., said she appreciated that the president focused on the suffering of Americans during hard economic times. She told us that she thinks President Obama’s involvement in health care reform legislation is key to its passage.

Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., said the president reminded Congress that it has higher imperatives than political infighting. He added that while he thinks the House is working to pass legislation, the Senate is falling behind. A supporter of health care reform legislation, Weiner said the president’s commitment to the issue was key in seeing it pass Congress.