“I think very few,” Schumer said when asked. “The No. 1 thing the American people are frustrated about is government’s inability to help them. [It’s] government. They don’t say the legislative branch, they don’t say the executive branch. And they want some action. I think everyone prefers that we do it with Congress and there are a few signs we can do it within Congress on a few issues. But faced with the choice of nothing or executive, I think ... 90 percent of Americans and 90 percent of Democrats would say ‘go for it.’”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also cheered the speech.
“President Obama tonight described the progress we’ve made as a nation and pointed the way to where we need to go,” he said.
“Giving hard-working Americans a raise by increasing the minimum wage is a good place to start. The Senate will vote on this proposal in the coming weeks, and I hope Republicans will join us in turning this and other common-sense proposals into law.”
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., hoped the speech would lead the way to build on the bipartisan budget deal she helped craft last year. “I am ready to keep working to build on the bipartisan budget deal, and I hope Republicans are ready to join me at the table,” she said.
House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, meanwhile, urged the president to pay more attention to House GOP ideas on issues like immigration.
“If President Obama is serious about immigration reform, he will listen to new and different ideas presented by House Republicans to improve our immigration system because House Republicans and the American public have rejected the Senate approach and the President’s sweeping executive actions that have resulted in the dismantling of our immigration laws,” he said in his statement. “Our immigration system is in desperate need of reform and I remain committed to working on this critical issue with my colleagues. However, we don’t need another massive, Obamacare-like bill that is full of surprises and dysfunction after it becomes law,” he said.
Goodlatte also vowed to push for an overhaul of the NSA’s surveillance activities, and he backed the president’s call to end abusive patent litigation.
Other Republicans noted the central dichotomy of the speech — with Obama repeatedly offering to work with members of Congress and yet around them at the same time.
“There seemed to be an interest on reaching out, but he threw out some red meat for the base.”
“The President’s decision to issue Executive Orders, to make recess appointments, or to suspend enforcement of certain laws is inconsistent with our Constitutional system of checks and balances,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. “Americans are rightfully disappointed with the gridlock and partisanship so prevalent in Washington these days, and I share this frustration. The President is in a unique position to foster compromise, and he should recommit to work with members of Congress in order to reach consensus and move our country — and our economy — forward.”
Portman said Obama did give Republicans “some openings on trade” as well as energy.
Portman, looking from notes during the speech, said he is also interested in the proposal for startup retirement accounts.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.