Legislators React to the State of the Union

February 15, 2013
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President Obama delivered his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Feb. 12. Here is what area legislators had to say about the speech:


Congressman Frank Pallone Jr.,
D-6th Congres­sional District:  


President Obama offered a strong agenda to addressing some of our nation’s most challenging problems. I was encouraged to hear his emphasis on creating jobs, rebuilding our economy and working together to stem violence in our culture.

The president’s jobs agenda must be acted on by this Congress. As the president noted, manufacturing has been a bright spot for our nation’s economy and we should continue to take steps to encourage American businesses to make their products here in America. Manufac­turing can continue to be a driver of our economy and we should work together to foster growth.

I was also pleased to hear President Obama make a commitment to working to reform our energy future and address climate change. He rightly noted that weather events like Super Storm Sandy, which devastated so much of Jersey Shore, are a frightening indication of the power of climate change and why we can and must take action while we can still make a positive impact. I agree with the president’s position that we must take steps to expedite the transition to alternative energy, which will be good for our planet and our economy.

As the president said, energy is “just one part of an aging infrastructure” that needs to be addressed. I was excited to hear the president talk about his “Fix it First” and “Part­nership to Rebuild” plans. These could be positive steps that could create jobs while rebuilding our nation.

The most important thing we can do for the future of our nation is to provide the best education in the world to our children and I was interested to hear President Obama’s proposals on improving our education system. We need to create new opportunities for our children to continue to be competitive in the global economy.

President Obama also touched on the challenging issue of immigration reform and the need to address poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth by calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage. We need to improve wages in the United States so that we working families can gain access to the middle class.

Along with improved wages, must come equality and fairness when it comes to earning, which is why equal pay for equal work continues to be critical for improving our economy. Women must earn the same wages as men for the same work and not have to worry about discrimination in the workplace. I was also encouraged to hear the president call to the Violence Against Women Act that passed in the Senate today and I look forward to voting for in the House.

President Obama’s commitment to continuing to ensure our nation’s security while working to finish our job in Afghanistan will also be critical to strengthening the country. He noted that we face a different set of challenges now, so it is time to consider reducing nuclear weapon stockpiles while improving our security against cyber threats.

The president also touched on critical issues like equality and improving voting rights. I agree that we can and must find solutions to these pressing issues in the 113th Congress.

Finally, I stand with President Obama and plan to work with him to prevent gun violence in our nation. We cannot lose more innocent lives to gun violence in this country and we need to work together to develop a plan that protects all Americans.

President Obama’s State of the Union address set out bold plans for his presidency and the 113th Congress. Many of the president’s initiatives can be achieved with a bipartisan approach. Demo­crats and Republicans must work together to achieve these common goals and I look forward to addressing our nation’s challenges head-on with my colleagues in Congress.


U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J.:


The president showed tremendous leadership and a progressive vision for our nation. He made clear that a strong middle class will be the driver of our economy, and I am ready to get to work leveling the playing field so our middle class can thrive again.

As the president highlighted tonight, we can strengthen our nation by making important federal investments in education, infrastructure, and manufacturing. The investment choices that we make today will create jobs and enable America to maintain its leadership around the globe. In New Jersey, investments in our rails, tunnels, roadways and bridges will grow the state’s economy and strengthen transportation access for the region.

President Obama’s call to pass gun safety legislation, including my effort to keep supersized ammunition magazines out of our neighborhoods, was an especially important, timely message. Gun violence survivors seated in the House Chamber, including my State of the Union guest Matt Gross, brought a human face to the scourge of gun violence, and we must act now to stop the bloodshed. With the president’s strong commitment and the American people’s clear support behind us, I am confident that we can pass common-sense reforms that reduce gun violence and protect our families.


U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, D-N.J.:


Tonight, the president underscored America’s renewed leadership on global issues including climate change and his firm, clear response to North Korea’s nuclear threat. He renewed our shared commitment to reducing nuclear arsenals and securing nuclear materials, as well as our commitment to strengthening our non-proliferation regime. The president’s emphasis on counter-terrorism rather than counter-insurgency, which requires boots on the ground and continued deployment of American troops, is a policy I have long supported.

On the domestic side, I share the president’s commitment to common-sense gun laws and background checks to help prevent senseless massacres of the innocent. An emphasis on job creation to continue to spur our economic recovery is critical. The president’s call for comprehensive immigration reform will move the ball forward on our efforts in the Gang of 8 to bring 11 million people out of the shadows and on a pathway to productive citizenship.

Tonight, the president put words to the music we heard in his inaugural address, and laid out an agenda that continues the progress we’ve made toward robust economic recovery at home and strength­ening America’s leadership role abroad.

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