Oregon & Wash.'s delegations respond to State of the Union

Oregon & Wash.'s delegations respond to State of the Union
President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Oregon and Washington's delegations respond to State of the Union:


Senator Jeff Merkley

“President Obama was absolutely right when he said, ‘A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs – that must be the North Star that guides our efforts.’ There is no better program of any kind than a good, living-wage job as a foundation for a successful family.

“The President mentioned many strategies to spur job creation, now and for the future. Let’s have that discussion right now on how we can get our economy back on track. Let’s invest in our infrastructure and put people back to work rebuilding America’s crumbling roads and bridges. Let’s offer low-cost loans for homeowners to make their homes energy-efficient. Let’s hire back the teachers that were laid off during this terrible depression, and help prepare our children for the jobs of the future. And let’s do more to make sure that anyone who works hard can make ends meet, by raising the minimum wage.

 "We won't make America stronger, create jobs, or build for the future by making life tougher for seniors or turning our back on the hungry and hurting.  Businesses won't invest while we're lurching from cliff to cliff, with uncertainty looming over government policy every few months.  It's time to end the manufactured crises and focus on making this country work for the middle class. 
"I look forward to working with my colleagues to move our country forward. Let’s heed the President’s call to work together to focus on creating good jobs now and growth for the future.”

Senator Ron Wyden

“President Obama laid out an economic vision that includes rebuilding our infrastructure, strengthening American manufacturing and overhauling the tax code. If Congress is serious about creating jobs, there is no better place to start than tax reform. Bipartisan tax reforms like the ones I have been working on would create a simpler, more business-friendly tax code that would increase tax revenue without raising tax rates. In fact, we would lower corporate tax rates to make American businesses more competitive – helping businesses to create jobs that pay middle class wages.
I am also pleased that the President supports the principles behind the Student Right to Know Before You Go initiative I've drafted with Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla.  We need to work together to ensure that parents and students get the most bang for their educational buck.  We will soon be reintroducing the legislation to make sure this happens.
President Obama also got it right tonight by highlighting the importance of national infrastructure as a way to create jobs and rebuild our crumbling bridges and highways. You can't have big league economic growth with a little league transportation system. I have always believed that private investment follows public investment. That is why I've teamed up with Senator John Hoeven, R-N.D., to champion the Transportation Regional Infrastructure Project bonds. These bonds, like their predecessors, Build America Bonds, will save local government millions of dollars in financing public works projects. It is time for Congress to build on that success.

It is past time for Congress to take action to address the issue of climate change and the associated health and environmental impacts. Only Congress has sufficient tools to address the global nature of the problem and pursue a solution that will reduce domestic emissions while also keeping us competitive in the world market. I will continue to work to pass laws to address climate change by increasing clean energy use and reducing America’s carbon footprint.”

Representative Suzanne Bonamici – 1st District

“President Obama outlined a strong second term agenda that includes a comprehensive plan to strengthen our economy, invest in education, reduce our deficit, reform our broken immigration system, prevent gun violence and address global climate change. Now is the time for action to address these priorities, and I look forward to working with the President and with all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to end the gridlock and find constructive compromises.

“I applaud the President’s renewed commitment to investing in education. The President, Oregon business leaders and job seekers, and I agree that we need to match our curriculum and training to the demands of the 21st century economy. Soon I will introduce legislation to bridge the skills gap, and I look forward to strengthening public education as a member of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The President’s proposal to commit resources to a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps is another good place to start. This week I am launching a STEAM caucus (STEM + arts) to ensure that arts and design are brought into the STEM discussion. We frequently discuss the importance of STEM education, but we can’t ignore the importance of engaging and educating both halves of the brain. Creative, critical thinking leads to innovation and creates good jobs.  

“As a representative of coastal Oregon and the ranking member of the U.S. House Science Space and Technology Subcommittee on the Environment, I was particularly enthused by the President’s commitment to addressing climate change. We are already seeing the harmful effects of climate change, and now is the time for action to ensure that jobs and homes are protected in our coastal communities and across the country. The President’s proposal to double renewable energy from wind and solar, and establish new energy efficiency incentives would help us achieve this goal.”

Representative Earl Blumenauer – District 3


President Obama’s State of the Union speech dealt with critical issues that we, as a nation must address to secure our future. He, and we all, must deal with the issues of climate change, gun control, and immigration reform in this Congress and not let opportunity pass us by. I strongly support the President’s call to create jobs and grow our economy by renewing and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and investing in clean energy manufacturing that will keep us competitive on the global market.

Along with progress in these areas, we can right our fiscal ship by making smart cuts to wasteful programs such as our outdated nuclear weapons program, ending tax subsidies to big oil companies, and eliminating direct payments to large agribusiness. At the same time, we should explore new revenue sources.  The 113th Congress does not have to be like the 112th – we can make rational, commonsense progress on the many important issues that affect all Americans. While it’s probably impossible for this Congress to be as bad as the last, we must commit to making sure that’s the case.

Representative Peter DeFazio – 4th District

U.S. Congressman Peter DeFazio tonight responded to President Obama’s State of the Union address. The following are DeFazio's remarks:

"President Obama kicked off his State of the Union speech by expressing strong concern for putting Americans back to work. That will resonate with many Oregonians. He followed up with an emphasis on investing in our crumbling infrastructure, something that has the capability of quickly putting millions of Americans back to work. That’s not just in construction, but in manufacturing, engineering, small business contractors, and others. I have long urged the administration to get serious about this kind of investment, and will push the president to follow through on this pledge and for increased investments. 

“He talked about security for our seniors. I agree that we cannot take away the promise of Social Security, and we cannot privatize Medicare or deny people benefits in their time of need.

“He talked about security for our kids. I agree that we must give the next generation a good solid education that will prepare them for post-graduate education in fields with good paying jobs and we need to make that opportunity more affordable.

“He acknowledged the mountain of debt we’re going to leave to our kids and grandkids. We can reduce this debt in a fair way by asking the wealthiest among us, the large corporations, and others that get special tax breaks to pay their fair share. The president talked about the stupidity of the so-called sequester and the indiscriminate across-the-board budget cuts to programs like county payments which will impact law enforcement and other vital programs in Southwest Oregon.  He said it should be replaced with targeted cuts, and targeted revenues by closing corporate and special interest tax loopholes. I couldn’t agree more.

“He talked about the need to put partisanship behind so we can meaningfully address some of the most pressing problems confronting our nation. I’m only hopeful that many of my colleagues listened and that we can begin again in this new congress to tackle these issues on a much more bipartisan basis.”

Representative Kurt Schrader – 5th District

“I was pleased that the President’s speech led with the need to reduce our nation’s debt and deficits using a balanced, comprehensive approach—including tax and entitlement reform and spending cuts. That is the best way for us to create the economic certainty necessary for our private industries to want to invest and create American jobs.

“I share the President’s call for the funding of early childhood education, college affordability initiatives and workforce training programs and believe they are integral steps in generating a workforce that is able to out-research, out-innovate and out-compete the rest of the world. Comprehensive immigration reform, an all-of-the-above energy policy and investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure are other areas of vital importance if our country is to flourish in the twenty-first century global economy.

“I was disappointed that the President failed to mention how Congress must solve the problems of America’s rural communities, who have been hit harder and longer during our economic recovery. Passing a twenty-first century farm bill, promoting coherent forest policy that preserves healthy forests and rural communities and reforming our guest worker programs are all issues that Congress must address.

“I applaud the President’s announcement of an accelerated withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan. Now, we should use that money for nation building here at home. That means making sure that our heroes come home to the jobs and investing in the middle class of the future.

“Tonight, the President laid a broad framework for long-term, long-lasting economic prosperity. Only by working together with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and bipartisan organizations like No Labels, can Congress trust each other, produce results and ensure that our children and grandchildren are left with a better, stronger nation than we inherited.”

Representative Greg Walden – 2nd District

“In over forty town hall meetings in just over a year, I’ve heard from hardworking taxpayers throughout Oregon that they want good jobs that pay the bills, that they are concerned about health insurance premiums going up, not down, and they are worried about the government borrowing and spending so much. 

“I’m disappointed that the President didn’t do more tonight to extend an olive branch to work with Congress to solve the country’s problems. Instead, he doubled down on his agenda from the past four years: more spending, more debt, higher taxes, and a bigger federal government more involved in our lives than ever before. This approach has not produced a strong economy or the kind of family-wage jobs that Americans need and deserve. The federal government must stop throwing up barriers to job creation and learn to live within a budget.”


Senator Maria Cantwell

“Tonight, President Obama put the focus where it should be: on growing the economy and the middle class,” Cantwell said. “President Obama is right to prioritize investments in manufacturing jobs and workforce skills that will keep America competitive in a global economy. The President doesn’t need to look any further than Washington state to see the importance of manufacturing, innovation and trade to America’s jobs. I’ve seen the power of our trade economy across Washington state, whether it’s manufacturing grain silos in Spokane, growing cherries in Yakima, shipping grain from the Port of Vancouver or developing software in Seattle.

“But in order for our economy to grow, we need to make a true commitment to developing a skilled workforce. Tonight, the President correctly called for new investments in STEM education that will power our innovation economy for generations to come.
“I’m also encouraged that the President supported bipartisan, market-based solutions to avert the growing impacts of climate change on our communities. And, we must continue innovation to support clean energy job growth that moves America closer to energy independence.

“Finally, I applaud the President for moving forward on his plan to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year, including bringing 34,000 more troops home by next February. We are proud of the thousands of Washingtonians who have served overseas since 9/11, and we look forward to welcoming more men and women in uniform back home soon.”

Senator Patty Murray

“Tonight the President laid out a robust agenda for continuing to build a more secure middle class and an economy that provides opportunity for everyone. He described how by investing in manufacturing, our infrastructure, new and cleaner forms of energy, our schools, and the skills of our workers we can create the economic growth needed to put Americans to work and reduce our deficit responsibly.

“The President also spoke about the core American ideals of compassion and opportunity that will be so important as we tackle issues that should unite us, like finally passing comprehensive immigration reform. And the President delivered welcome news that more of our troops will be coming home in the coming year. As they do, it is going to be critical that the Pentagon and the VA do more to work together to give these brave men and women access to health care, employment opportunities, and the benefits they have earned to help ease their transition back into civilian life.

“On the tough fiscal battles ahead, the President repeatedly stressed the key principle that will be required for us to make progress: balance. He made it clear that while we absolutely need to tackle our deficit and debt responsibly, the number one priority right now needs to be protecting our fragile economic recovery and creating strong middle-class jobs. This means we need to move quickly to replace the automatic and damaging cuts from sequestration with a balanced mix of responsible spending cuts and new revenue from the wealthiest Americans. And it means that any budget plan we put forward needs to be fair and not call on seniors, our men and women in uniform, and our most vulnerable to bear the burden of deficit reduction alone.

“Families in Washington state and across the nation are hungry for bold solutions to the challenges they see their families and neighbors confront each day. Tonight the President spoke directly to them and reassured them that their daily struggles will continue to drive his agenda. In the months ahead I will be doing the same by laying out a pro-growth budget that that puts jobs and the middle class first, tackles the debt and deficit responsibly, calls on the wealthy to pay their fair share, works for seniors and families, and lays down a strong foundation for long-term and broad-based economic growth.”

Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler

“Tonight, President Obama laid out his priorities for our nation.  His vision and mine don’t always align, but where we can find common ground I look forward to working with him.  The residents of Southwest Washington don’t want to watch more pointless fighting among politicians.  They want results. 

“We’ve seen a little improvement in the Southwest Washington economy lately, but it’s not enough.  It’s important that we stay in dogged pursuit of solutions that will put people back to work.  As long as they are fiscally responsible and focused on private sector job growth, I’ll support any of the President’s efforts aimed at getting people employed again.
“The President also mentioned the need to tackle our nation’s debt.  There is no way to overstate the threat this $16 trillion debt poses to the economic security of Southwest Washington families and individuals.  Earlier this year the President insisted on letting some tax cuts expire, and he got most of what he asked for.  Now it’s time to address the other, more serious side of the debt equation -- decades of federal overspending.  If he really wants to solve our debt crisis, I’ll work with him.  We have to protect hardworking folks from our national debt’s catastrophic consequences before it’s too late.”