Members of Washington state’s congressional delegation, it comes as no surprise, had very different reactions to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night.
U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray sang the praises of President Obama’s mission statement for the next four years. Republican U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings took the opportunity to wax poetic about the different houses of government he and Obama occupy, while fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert criticized the president’s leadership and called for a unifying approach.
“Last November, the American people reelected President Obama to the White House and Republicans to the People’s House,” Hastings, of Pasco, said in a news release.
It’s a not so subtle jab that pays little deference to Hastings’ previous comments in the leadup to the November elections: That they would be a referendum by the people on the president, who Hastings fully expected to lose to Mitt Romney.
“Since then, my Republican colleagues and I have looked for ways to work with the president,” Hastings continued. “However, it’s hard to do that when he has failed – for the fourth time in five years – to follow the law and send a budget to Congress by last week’s deadline.”
Meanwhile, Cantwell said Obama showed he was rightly focused on growing the economy and the middle class. She said he will prioritize investments in manufacturing jobs and workforce skills that will keep the nation competitive globally.
“I’m also encouraged that the president supported bipartisan, market-based solutions to avert the growing impacts of climate change on our communities,” Cantwell said in a news release. “And we must continue innovation to support clean energy job growth that moves America closer to energy independence.”
Reichert, whose district includes Kittitas County, said he agreed with Obama’s points on the need for economic and job growth, but disagreed with his policies on how to accomplish those things.
“We cannot spend our way to recovery, we cannot tax our way to recovery, and we cannot continue to go down the same path of outdated, unsuccessful policies that cripple small business and hurt American families,” Reichert said in his news release.
Without going into detail, Reichert also endorsed immigration reform in his news release, saying it would benefit Central Washington farmers “to hire the workers they need.”
Murray, a longtime advocate for veterans’ issues, welcomed Obama’s announcement that 34,000 more troops will be returning from Afghanistan in the next year.
As troops return, “it is going to be critical that the Pentagon and the (Veterans Affairs department) 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,” Murray said.