U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill says she agrees with President Barack Obama that a lot of progress has been made to create millions of jobs and pull the economy out of the ditch, but says more needs to be done.
“There are an awful lot of commonsense ideas still sitting on the table that could build on that success, if elected leaders stop kowtowing to the political extremes and start working toward compromise to get things done,” she said. “Raising the minimum wage for working families, building innovative private-public partnerships to invest in our roads and bridges, making the tax code fairer, and fixing our broken immigration system aren’t partisan initiatives. They’re commonsense goals that we should all be ready to rally behind to strengthen America’s middle class families.”
McCaskill says she has worked with Republican colleagues to write the Federal Permitting Improvement Act, a measure she says cuts through federal red tape to expedite job-creating infrastructure projects. She has also joined with a bipartisan group of Senators, including Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, to introduce the Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment (BRIDGE) Act, which would create a federal infrastructure bank to help finance infrastructure projects.
St. Louis Congressman Lacy Clay, also a Democrat, says Obama laid out a bold, optimistic agenda that challenged us to reward hard work, renew economic security for middle-class families and keep faith with senior citizens.
“I strongly support the President’s call to raise the minimum wage; pass comprehensive immigration reform, renew the Voting Rights Act, continue expanding access to affordable healthcare for all, and eliminate barriers to higher education that are keeping millions from achieving their dreams,” Clay said. “He also laid out a clear path that would continue our nation’s remarkable progress towards achieving energy independence and creating millions of new jobs in the emerging 21st Century green economy. I am hopeful that Congress can build on recent bipartisan agreements to move this progressive agenda forward to benefit all Americans.”
Kansas City’s U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver says the President’s message was one of opportunity, optimism, and action.
“This country was founded on the notion that if you work hard and play by the rules, you should have the opportunity to succeed,” Cleaver said. “It’s past time to make that happen. It is absurd for Members of Congress to dig into political positions and refuse to work in a bipartisan manner. It’s time to stop digging — and start building.”
Republicans say it’s not members of Congress standing in the way of moving commonsense legislation, that it’s Obama himself. Sen. Roy Blunt says Obama’s message that he’s got a phone and a pen and he’s not afraid to use them is concerning. He says Obama should use his phone to call Senate leader Harry Reid and tell him to take up bills passed by the House that would move our economy forward.
Congressman Sam Graves agrees, saying Obama spoke about income inequality, but failed to mention his own role in making that gap wider.
“The House has been ready to work with the president on ways to strengthen the economy, help get people back to work, and lower energy costs for families,” Graves said. “We have passed bills to scrap federal regulations that hamper growth, make it easier for Americans to access job training programs, and approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The president and the Senate should work with us on these worthwhile initiatives – and a host of others.”
Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer says Obama’s speech proves that he prefers class warfare and government hand-outs over “good old fashioned American ingenuity and hard work.”
“The president’s lip-service to cooperation in Congress was an insult simply because the Democratic Senate has continued to turn its back on bipartisan House-passed legislation that would help create jobs, reduce unemployment and create the conditions for economic growth,” Luetkemeyer said. ” The president did nothing more than lay out populist campaign themes that have more to do with the fortunes of his party this November and very little to do with the long-term future of America.”
U.S. Rep. Billy Long, Southwest Missouri, said if Obama’s proposals are worthwhile, he should be able to get Congress onboard.