MISSOULA, Mont. - Speaking in his fifth State of the Union address, President Obama pronounced 2014 to be the "year of action."
Obama outlined his goals and priorities for the year ahead, and vowed to act on his own, bypassing the partisan fight in Congress.
Obama said he'll sidestep lawmakers when necessary to reduce the wage gap between the rich and poor. He also promised to improve American education from preschool through college, and called for new incentives for cleaner fuel and energy independence.
Following the president's speech, we monitored reaction from Montana's congressional delegation.
Senator Jon Tester reacted to the president's mention of housing finance reform.
"I was particularly pleased he talked about the housing finance reform bill that we have," Tester said. "I think if we're going to get housing going again, if we're going to get the economy to be all it can be, housing is a big part of that."
Senator Max Baucus reacted in a written statement, saying he was "encouraged" by the president's "commitment to increasing opportunities for working class families." He called the farm bill "our nation's jobs bill," and said significant strides were made this week.
Congressman Steve Daines weighed in saying he did not hear the jobs message he was hoping for.
"It's time for the president to take action on the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would create 800 good Montana jobs," Daines said.
He went on to say "the American people deserve real solutions that provide good paying jobs."
For more on the State of the Union address, click here.
Sen. Jon Tester's full statement:
I was pleased the President laid out a vision to strengthen our economy and create jobs. I'm particularly glad he vowed to push forward with housing finance reform. Improving our housing finance system will better support the 30-year mortgage and protect taxpayers while letting more Americans realize the American Dream. I look forward to working with the President and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to get this bipartisan initiative across the finish line.
I think the President laid out a strong vision for the future economically. I think that's important. He spoke about the middle class and how important it was to have a vibrant middle class so that we can continue to lead the world. I think that is critically important. I was particularly pleased that he talked about the housing finance reform bill that we have. I think if we're going to get housing going again, if we're going to get the economy to be all it can be, housing is a big part of that. And this housing reform bill is an important bill so I was pleased he spoke about that too.
Sen. Max Baucus' full statement:
As I watched the State of the Union, I was encouraged by the President's commitment to increasing opportunities for working class families. Creating jobs must remain our number one priority and we've made significant strides this week on our nation's jobs bill: the Farm Bill. I'll be doing all I can to bring this bill to the finish line because one-in-five Montana jobs depend on agriculture.
Rep. Steve Daines' full statement:
Last year, the Chairman of the Crow Tribe, Darrin Old Coyote, was my guest of honor for the State of the Union. The Crow Reservation faces high unemployment and poverty—and when asked what the three things the Crow people needed most, his answer was simple: ‘Jobs, jobs, and jobs.' I did not hear that tonight from the President.
It's time for the President to take action on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would create 800 good Montana jobs and help keep energy prices low for hard-working Montana families. It's time to rein in the overreaching regulations that are hurting Montana's coal industry and the hundreds of Montana union jobs that our coal-fired power plants support. Chairman Old Coyote recently testified before the House Natural Resources Committee and stated ‘the war on coal is a war on our families and our children' – it's time for President Obama to stop his war on coal and allow Montana's energy sector—allow Montanans— to grow and create jobs.
We also must fight for our veterans and work to ensure they can put their skills to use when they return home from battle. I believe that we must work to protect the benefits that our veterans have earned and ensure that our wounded warriors have access to the quality care they deserve.
I've heard a lot from Montanans that it's time to stop the NSA's mass data collection program and implement new safeguards that protect Montanans' privacy from big government overreach and broken government websites.
President Obama and I agree: it is the American people and their determined spirit that indeed make our nation strong. But the American people deserve real solutions that provide good paying jobs for our families, and grow opportunity.