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New Mexico Telegram » Delegation, Featured, National News » Obama delivers State of the Union, delegation reacts

Obama delivers State of the Union, delegation reacts

President Barack Obama gave the first State of the Union address of his second term in office Tuesday evening, calling for up-or-down votes on his proposals related to guns and calling for an increase of the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.

The backdrop of recent shootings hung over the speech, as many members of Congress wore green ribbons to honor shooting victims.

Many survivors of gun violence were also in the chambers as guests of members of Congress. This included Tijeras, NM mayor Gloria Chavez who attended the State of the Union as a guest of Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M.

The Albuquerque Journal reported:

Lujan Grisham’s decision to invite Chavez is part of a larger plan by the House Democratic caucus to attend the speech with people who hope to help raise awareness of gun violence and support for stricter gun laws.

Obama finished his speech with a passionate call that the victims of gun violence “deserve a vote” on his proposals, which include calling for universal background checks.

“Overwhelming majorities of Americans – Americans who believe in the 2nd Amendment – have come together around commonsense reform – like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals,” Obama said. “Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned.”

The minimum wage proposal is another that is expected to get a lot of attention — though it would have a tough road in the Republican-controlled House.

“Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families,” Obama said. “It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead. For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets.”

In the hour-long address, Obama also spoke about climate change and that the United States would have all troops out of Afghanistan “by the end of next year.”

Delegation reaction

The New Mexico congressional delegation all issued releases following the speech. The full releases are below:

Sen. Martin Heinrich

“Like President Obama, I believe a strong economy begins with a thriving middle class.

“I was encouraged by his commitment to addressing and recognizing the urgency of climate change by supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives, and his determination to invest in science and technology programs to prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow. New Mexico leads in these efforts of American energy independence and innovation.

“Additionally, small businesses and American manufacturers deserve the tools they need to succeed because they are a backbone of a growing economy. Building a 21st century infrastructure creates jobs, spurs growth, and keeps American jobs at home.

“I was also encouraged by the President’s commitment to fixing our broken immigration system. We need accountable and responsible immigration reform where undocumented immigrants have an opportunity to earn their citizenship.

“Families in New Mexico deserve the chance to work their way into the middle class. Both parties must come together and set aside their political differences to find the practical and commonsense solutions that middle-class families deserve and expect.”

Sen. Tom Udall

“The vitality of our economy is rooted in the middle-class. Tonight, President Obama presented a clear vision for growing the economy from the middle-class out through job creation in homegrown clean energy development, manufacturing and by rebuilding bridges and roads across the country.

“We have a big task ahead to find common ground and pass a budget that reduces the deficit and advances our values. But we won’t achieve this goal by gutting the programs seniors depend on or cutting investments in education and training for our kids. Strengthening our economy must be our top priority and we need to work in a bipartisan fashion to provide the certainty and confidence our businesses need to keep hiring.“

Rep. Lujan Grisham

“The President detailed a strong path forward that will create jobs and strengthen middle class families. His proposals offer a broad-based, balanced approach to creating jobs and reinvigorating our economy. The quickest way to turn around our economy is to put people back to work. Whether is it through new clean energy initiatives, a revitalized manufacturing industry or infrastructure investments, we can put Americans back to work right now, ensure long term economic growth and move our country forward.

“I strongly agree with the President that we can remain competitive as a nation in a global market by creating a stronger education system that invests in early childhood education and equips the students of today for the skills they’ll need tomorrow.

“It is important that we address the gun violence that is plaguing our country. Too many families continue to be effected by this epidemic. We can all learn from the bi-partisan actions of the New Mexico legislature that are working to close the gun-show loophole. That’s why I joined many of my colleagues and invited the Village of Tijeras Mayor Gloria Chavez to be my guest. Mayor Chavez has lost several members of her family due to gun violence and is part of the nationwide effort, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. It is the actions and efforts of leaders like her that will allow us to change the system to make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have it.

“I was encouraged by the bi-partisan support in the room when the President addressed the issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. This is an issue whose time has finally come and we have the opportunity to get right. We can finally move families out of the shadows and onto an earned pathway to citizenship.

“We have critical challenges we are facing, but together we can strengthen the middle class and move America forward. That was demonstrated here tonight by the show of bi-partisan support for many of the issues the President addressed. It’s time for us to work towards our common goal of building a stronger America. I look forward to working with the President and my colleagues in the House to get it done.”

Rep. Steve Pearce

“The President focused heavily tonight on our economy, and the need for policies that will allow our middle class to prosper,” said Pearce. “I sincerely hope that his actions will match his words in the months ahead: Americans are desperately in need of a government that will allow the freedom, innovation, and opportunity the President spoke of. I agree with the President’s proposal that we must ‘attract more jobs to our shores.’

“I spent the evening in New Mexico, with the very Americans the president spoke of: Americans who have invested, who have worked hard, and who have taken initiative. But tonight, these Americans had to come together to make sure that the federal government does not take away their jobs. I insist tonight that the President puts his words into practice, and allows these Americans to prosper, instead of struggling under the weight of more new taxes, more debt, and more inflation.

“The President spoke of putting America’s needs before party,” Pearce continued. “This is a time when Americans are asking for solutions. The nation is founded on diverse ideas and different parties—the House, Senate, and President are elected to determine together the course of the country. The same people who elected the President also elected the Republicans to the House of Representatives. Tonight, I call on the President to address the needs we can all agree on: jobs, debt, and freedom to prosper. These are not questions of party or ideology, but of America’s future. People are tired of political posturing and political deals. They want solutions: solutions to the debt and deficit, solutions to the inflation that comes from the Federal Reserve’s printing of money, solutions to our continued joblessness.”

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan

“Tonight, President Obama put the focus back on what should be our top priority – creating jobs. He correctly pointed out that reducing our deficit cannot be the only path we take if we want to grow our economy, rebuild the middle class, and spur job creation in New Mexico and across the country.

“While we must work to responsibly reduce our deficit with a balanced approach that prevents the sequester’s arbitrary cuts, it is vital that we make investments that lay the foundation for a stronger economy. Strengthening STEM and early education, promoting entrepreneurship and job training, investing in a clean energy economy, and encouraging innovation will help grow a stronger middle class that is the key to a brighter future for New Mexico.

“I was also pleased that the President announced that 34,000 American men and women will be coming home from Afghanistan as we wind down a decade of war. I hope for the swift and safe return of our troops who are serving bravely in harm’s way.

“Moving forward, one area that we must hear more about from the President is his goal of reducing our nation’s nuclear weapon stockpile. It will be critical to examine the details of this plan to determine its impact on New Mexico; however, I believe Los Alamos National Laboratory has an important role to play in achieving this goal and in maintaining and ensuring the safety of a smaller nuclear deterrent.

“In his address this evening, President Obama laid out a path forward for our country that includes many elements that have already received significant support from the American people. I am hopeful that we can come together to address the challenges we face, put an end to the manufactured crises that have impacted an economic recovery, and make progress that moves our nation forward.”

Written by

Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

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