President Obama seeks to raise federal minimum wage
President Obama convened a joint-session of Congress on Tuesday to deliver his fifth State of the Union address since taking office.
He pledged to use executive authority to expand opportunity for Americans whenever possible.
Obama announced that he plans to sign an executive order that raises the minimum wage paid to government contract workers from $7.25 to $10.10.
White House officials say the new measure would be beneficial to government, business, workers and the economy overall.
Obama also urged Congress to increase the federal minimum wage for all Americans.
“Give America a raise,” he said in the speech.
The president faces an uphill battle.
The latest NBC News/WSJ poll indicates that 51 percent of Americans disapprove of his job performance, while 43 percent approve.
That same poll also revealed that 63 percent believe that the country is currently on the wrong track.
The president sought to damper any doubts about his leadership by delivering an assertive and hopeful message to rally the nation.
“It is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong,” he said.
The president cited immigration reform as a crucial part of promoting economic growth, and called on congressional leaders to have reform legislation on his desk by the end of the year.
He also defended his signature healthcare law, which was marred by a botched rollout.
The Healthcare.gov website was buggy, causing some users to miss the original deadline to sign up for healthcare, while some had to attempt the sign-up process multiple times.
The president asserted that House Republicans, who have voted to repeal the law over 40 times, have not provided any viable alternative solutions.
The president also reiterated his commitment to putting an end to tragedies caused by mass shootings.
“Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day,” he said.
Obama also noted that Congress has failed to act on most of his legislative goals from last year’s address.
“Let’s make this a year of action,” Obama said.
House Republican Chair, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), delivered the official republican response.
McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking woman in the House of Representatives, took issue with the Obama administration’s plans to combat unemployment.
She countered that the republicans are firm in their commitment to restoring the American dream and putting people back to work.
“Republicans have plans to close the gap, plans that focus on jobs first without more spending, government bailouts, and red tape,” she said.
In addition to the official GOP response, Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) each gave their own separate responses.
President Obama will spend the coming weeks meeting with business leaders and reviewing federal programs designed to train workers with skills that are in demand.