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Congress Gives Mixed Reaction to Obama's State of the Union Speech

  • VOA News

Speaker of the House John Boehner reacts as President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015.

Speaker of the House John Boehner reacts as President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015.

U.S. lawmakers have expressed a mix of reactions to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, with a particular focus on his economic policies and the ongoing international negotiations on Iran's nuclear program.

After the speech Tuesday night at the Capitol in Washington, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Obama's speech a "powerful vision of opportunity and prosperity" for American families, and highlighted his plans to help those in the middle class.

But Republicans in the Senate, who reclaimed a majority this year, questioned how the president would fund those initiatives.

Senator Cory Gardner expressed opposition to raising money through new taxes.

"The President has had six years and the situation has gotten worse as people are working harder and harder each and every day to try to make ends meet. We need to make sure that we’re not increasing taxes on hard-working American families, on American job creators, and unfortunately that seems to be the President’s only plan," said Gardner.

On Iran, Obama said enacting new sanctions would "all but guarantee" the negotiations would fail, but some members of Congress are pushing for more economic pressure.

Senator Gardner said the current effort has given too many concessions to Iran, while not getting enough in return.

Democratic Senator Eliot Engel also wants more sanctions, which have hurt Iran's economy during the past few years.

"I happen to have felt, and still feel, that sanctions have brought Iran to the negotiating table and that further sanctions can force Iran to negotiate in better faith," said Engel.

Republican Ed Royce, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also criticized Obama's efforts to combat global terrorism, saying the president "has been eager to declare victory over jihadist groups."

Representative David Scott, a Democrat, expressed similar dissatisfaction with the president's counterterror policies.

"I would have loved to have seen him come out much more aggressive in the war against radical Islamic terrorism. He’s weak there and he has - is being perceived as weak on the world stage there. He’s a great guy, you cannot make foreign policy the way you want the world to be, you got to make your foreign policy the way the world is," said Scott.

Others backed Obama, including Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, who said he "showed his leadership when he talked about America leading a united world in confronting the threat of terrorism."

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