Partisian congressional priorities dominate State of Union address reaction

World Today

Less than 24 hours after U.S. President Barack Obama laid out his 2015 agenda to the American people, there’s already a push by members of the opposition, Republicans, to implement their priorities. CCTV America’s Jessica Stone reported this story from Washington, D.C.

Partisian congressional priorities dominate State of Union address reaction

Less than 24 hours after U.S. President Barack Obama laid out his 2015 agenda to the American people, there's already a push by members of the opposition, Republicans, to implement their priorities. CCTV America’s Jessica Stone reported this story from Washington, D.C.

The day after the president called on Congress not to pass additional economic sanctions against Iran, Republicans did the opposite and invited Israeli prime minister to speak to Congress in February on the threat of radical Islam and Iran. They also showed no signs on acting on another request by the president to lift the embargo against Cuba.

In his hourlong State of the Union address before an antagonistic Congress, Obama cast a familiar vision for the new year, repackaging his administration’s economic policies to help the U.S. middle class and defending his major foreign policy decisions of the previous year.

On the fight against ISIL, he declared that a multilateral approach is working.

“In Iraq and Syria, American leadership, including our military power, is stopping ISIL’s advance,” Obama said.

There was no mention of ousting Syrian President Bashar al Assad, after nearly four years of calling on him to step down.

Obama described the promise of normalizing relations with Cuba; offering a warm welcome to State Department contractor, Alan Gross after five years in Cuban captivity and challenging Congress to lift the embargo.

That challenge turned to a veto threat if Congress passes new Iran sanctions.

Members of both parties are looking for the votes to override that veto, many saying they are ready to move forward.

“You’ll see a lot of Republicans and Democrats deciding that maybe we put the sanctions back on in order to pressure Iran,” Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., said.

Obama also offered the first direct acknowledgement of the new Republican congressional majority on Capitol Hill.

“A better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine,” the president said.

Members of congress had divided views.

“I think he gave us a good message, which is that we have things that we can unite on and why don’t we work across the aisle to do things that are better for America?” Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., said.

Meanwhile Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., said he didn’t like the president’s appraoch.

“The outreach tonight didn’t seem like outreach. It seemed like saying: ‘Well I’m going to do this and that, and if you are willing to do the things that I want, then I’ll work with you,’” Wittman said.

One area where the parties can work together is passing the Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, a procedure that could help speedup negotiations on completing free trade agreements with Europe and Asia this year.

“I think if the president says he needs TPA and picks up the phone and spends some time with House Democrats and Senate Democrats, he’ll have TPA as soon as he does it,” Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., said.

But passing TPA won’t be a slam dunk either. There is significant opposition from liberal Democrats who say supporting more free trade agreements will hurt the U.S. middle class.


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