Obama shook hands on the House floor as he made his way through the crowd to deliver his State of the Union address. In his remarks, the president called on Congress to pass gun control measures and rewrite the nation’s immigration policy.
“As long as I’m president, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place,” Obama said in 2012.
“We can’t wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about the other side, a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can,” Obama said in 2010.
Tuesday night, even when Obama wasn’t expressly criticizing Congress, he was alienating Republicans who were already annoyed that he outlined an aggressively liberal agenda in his Jan. 21 inaugural speech.
His State of the Union was not much different in that regard, despite the president’s focus on boosting the economy. Indeed, Obama returned to the same theme that helped him get re-elected: economic fairness.
“It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country — the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love,” Obama said.
Then he challenged Congress to find a way to find compromise. “The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem,” the president said. “They don’t expect those of us in this chamber to agree on every issue. But they do expect us to put the nation’s interests before party. They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can.”
It’s unclear whether 2013 will be the year when Congress finally heeds Obama’s call, but even if the parties came together, it likely wouldn’t be because he asked them to.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.