Local delegation reacts to State of the Union address

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

Published:

 

2014 State of the Union address

• Report: Obama vows to use powers of presidency

• Full text of the 2014 State of the Union address, as transcribed at The Washington Post.

GOP response by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.

Southwest Washington's three representatives in Congress all struck a hopeful tone in response to President Barack Obama's call for action on immigration, tax reform and other issues during the State of the Union address Tuesday night.

U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, focused on economic issues, which were a major theme of the president's speech.

"One major goal the president and I share is to create better opportunities for folks who are out of work or struggling in low-income jobs," Herrera Beutler said in a released statement.

"I hope (that) he will look to join us on solutions Democrats and Republicans can support to get the private sector hiring again. The recent yearlong spending bill and farm bill compromise give us a great starting point from which to work. Let's keep going."

On immigration, Obama urged members of Congress to act this year. The U.S. Senate passed a sweeping reform bill in 2013, but the package stalled in the Republican-led House. Republicans have called for a piece-by-piece approach to tackling immigration -- a stance reiterated by Herrera Beutler during a small gathering in Vancouver this month. On taxes, the president called for closing loopholes and offering rewards for domestic investment.

"We all agree that our immigration and tax systems are broken," Herrera Beutler said Tuesday. "If the president is willing to find common ground, I'll work with him on solutions that will benefit the residents of Southwest Washington."

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., welcomed Obama's call for an increased federal minimum wage. He also urged lawmakers to address skill gaps in the workforce, close wage gaps between men and women, help the middle class and expand preschool opportunities for young children.

"These are proposals that Americans of all political stripes have said they overwhelmingly support," Murray said in a released statement. "So I am hopeful that Republicans will work with us to build on the bipartisan foundation we built with last year's budget deal instead of pushing our country to another absolutely unnecessary debt limit crisis."

Murray, a former preschool teacher, said she was particularly pleased to hear an emphasis on education during the speech.

"I am very glad that President Obama doubled down on his commitment to a national preschool initiative that will not only help our youngest children and pay dividends in future economic growth, but also empower millions of women who would be able to go to work and give back to their communities," Murray said. "I challenge anyone to explain to me why this should be a partisan issue."

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said she appreciated the president's highlighting the need to address the skills gap and nurture the "innovation economy." On that front, leaders can look to Washington and its aerospace, technology and manufacturing industries as an example, she said. The nation "can't afford to let our workers fall behind," Cantwell said in a released statement.

Cantwell also supports an increase to the federal minimum wage. She co-sponsored a bill to tie the wage to inflation, an approach used in Washington and several other states.

Cantwell also highlighted other parts of the president's agenda.

"It's time for Congress to take action on bipartisan proposals for comprehensive immigration reform, infrastructure investment and growing our clean energy economy," she said. "I'm especially pleased with President Obama's focus on agriculture exports and our trade economy."