Washington officials split along party lines in responses to State of the Union address

January 31, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Washington lawmakers split along party lines in response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

Dave Reichert

In a forceful speech to a joint session of Congress on Jan. 24, Obama laid out proposals for “green” energy, job creation and tax reform. (The president is due to visit Seattle on Feb. 17.)

“I’m pleased that President Obama, like me and my gubernatorial colleagues, has put a strong emphasis on rebuilding our middle class and preserving jobs that our citizens deserve,” Gregoire said in a statement. “He knows no challenge is more urgent. We must rebuild a nation where every citizen has the opportunity to succeed, where our middle class is secure and where the American dream is still within reach.”

The governor, a Democrat, attended the speech as U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s guest. Pelosi, a California Democrat, is the minority leader in the House of Representatives.

The lawmaker for the 8th Congressional District, Republican Dave Reichert, said the speech contained “divisive rhetoric.” (The district includes Issaquah, plus communities in eastern King and Pierce counties.)

“Americans expect and deserve a government that works together,” he said in a statement. “I am disappointed that tonight’s State of the Union was plagued by such divisive rhetoric and political angling by all sides. Our economy continues to struggle, and government must help create a climate of economic certainty in order for businesses to grow and workers to find jobs. Excessive government spending, regulatory overreach and political brinksmanship has caused uncertainty, sidelined investment and innovation, and slowed the recovery America needs.

Washington’s U.S. senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, praised the speech from Obama, a fellow Democrat.

“As the president said tonight, our country faces a choice,” Murray said in a statement. “We can move toward a stronger, fairer future for the middle class families who make our nation great. Or we can allow our nation to slide in the other direction, toward limited opportunity for the vast majority of families, more inequality and a country left weaker for our children than the one we inherited from our parents.”

Cantwell lauded proposals to increase employment in Evergreen State-based industries.

“Washington state is a national leader in many industries including aerospace, biotech, clean energy technology, software and agriculture. We need policies that will help the manufacturing sector grow,” she said in a statement. “We also need to invest in growing a skilled workforce capable of filling the jobs that employers need. That includes Washington’s aerospace industry, which needs thousands more skilled aerospace workers to keep pace with growth.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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