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NH congressional delegation reacts to Obama's State of the Union address

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 28. 2014 11:38PM
Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman, right, stands with his rescuer, Carlos Arredondo, before the start of President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday night. (REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

President Barack Obama in his annual State of the Union address called on Congress to follow an example set by an executive order he will issue, which will raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors, by raising the overall federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

"This will help families. It will give businesses customers with more money to spend. It doesn't involve any new bureaucratic program. So join the rest of the country. Say yes," Obama said Tuesday night.

He said he is ready to offer "a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require congressional action, and I'm eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still — and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."

And he said states do not have to wait, either.

"To every mayor, governor, and state legislator in America, I say, you don't have to wait for Congress to act. Americans will support you if you take this on," he said.

"In tonight's speech, President Obama outlined what remains the most critical challenge facing our nation today: creating jobs and opportunity for middle class families," U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H., said in a statement. "I applaud the President's support for increasing the federal minimum wage. This will help many of our hardest working friends and neighbors earn a living and support their families."

"Both parties must work together on our most important priorities: helping create jobs, growing our economy, and strengthening small businesses in New Hampshire and across the country," U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said in a statement. "In recent weeks we've seen signs of bipartisan progress on important issues facing our country and I hope we will build on that cooperation to address the many additional challenges we face as a nation. I will continue to work across the aisle with anyone who is willing to work in good faith to move our economy, and our country, forward."

"The President is clearly focused on the middle class and their struggles," U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., said in a statement. "While the economy has improved and this country is moving forward, we are still leaving far too many people behind. I hope Congress and the White House will stay focused on finding solutions to the problems facing the middle class and work together to jumpstart the American dream."

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said in a statement that she was disappointed in what Obama had to say about the implementation of his signature health care law. Obama asked Congress to give the law a chance, rather than pass bills to repeal it.

"It was a glaring omission that the President's speech didn't address the serious problems with Obamacare. New Hampshire citizens have told me they're losing their doctors, seeing their coverage cancelled or having to pay more for it. We need to tackle these problems head on," Ayotte said in a statement.

Obama also called on Congress to pass immigration reform legislation, end tax loopholes that benefit companies that outsource employment overseas, launch more "hubs" that connect businesses to research universities and end the partisan gridlock that has seen the government shut down in the last year.

"For several years now, this town has been consumed by a rancorous argument over the proper size of the federal government," he said. "It's an important debate, one that dates back to our very founding. But when that debate prevents us from carrying out even the most basic functions of our democracy, when our differences shut down government or threaten the full faith and credit of the United States, then we are not doing right by the American people."

New Hampshire native and Boston Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman was among the guests invited to sit with first lady Michelle Obama during the State of the Union address.

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