Obama: ‘America Does Not Stand Still — And Neither Will I’

Your complete viewing guide to the State of the Union.

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on January 28, 2014 at the US Capitol in Washington.
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Jan. 28, 2014, 3:48 p.m.

Here’s your com­plete Cliff Notes for Pres­id­ent Obama’s fifth State of the Uni­on: what you need to know on the most im­port­ant top­ics, the biggest lines from the speech, and what is­sues the pres­id­ent will now push on his own.


“Now, I don’t ex­pect to con­vince my Re­pub­lic­an friends on the mer­its of this law. But I know that the Amer­ic­an people aren’t in­ter­ested in re­fight­ing old battles. So again, if you have spe­cif­ic plans to cut costs, cov­er more people, and in­crease choice — tell Amer­ica what you’d do dif­fer­ently. Let’s see if the num­bers add up. But let’s not have an­oth­er forty-something votes to re­peal a law that’s already help­ing mil­lions of Amer­ic­ans like Aman­da.”


“Fi­nally, if we are ser­i­ous about eco­nom­ic growth, it is time to heed the call of busi­ness lead­ers, labor lead­ers, faith lead­ers, and law en­force­ment — and fix our broken im­mig­ra­tion sys­tem. Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats in the Sen­ate have ac­ted. I know that mem­bers of both parties in the House want to do the same. In­de­pend­ent eco­nom­ists say im­mig­ra­tion re­form will grow our eco­nomy and shrink our de­fi­cits by al­most $1 tril­lion in the next two dec­ades. And for good reas­on: when people come here to ful­fill their dreams — to study, in­vent, and con­trib­ute to our cul­ture — they make our coun­try a more at­tract­ive place for busi­nesses to loc­ate and cre­ate jobs for every­one. So let’s get im­mig­ra­tion re­form done this year.”


“In the com­ing weeks, I will is­sue an Ex­ec­ut­ive Or­der re­quir­ing fed­er­al con­tract­ors to pay their fed­er­ally-fun­ded em­ploy­ees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour — be­cause if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.”

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“To­night, I’ve asked Vice Pres­id­ent Biden to lead an across-the-board re­form of Amer­ica’s train­ing pro­grams to make sure they have one mis­sion: train Amer­ic­ans with the skills em­ploy­ers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now. That means more on-the-job train­ing, and more ap­pren­tice­ships that set a young work­er on an up­ward tra­ject­ory for life.”


“That’s why Con­gress should undo the dam­age done by last year’s cuts to ba­sic re­search so we can un­leash the next great Amer­ic­an dis­cov­ery — wheth­er it’s vac­cines that stay ahead of drug-res­ist­ant bac­teria, or pa­per-thin ma­ter­i­al that’s stronger than steel.”


“We’re of­fer­ing mil­lions the op­por­tun­ity to cap their monthly stu­dent loan pay­ments to ten per­cent of their in­come, and I want to work with Con­gress to see how we can help even more Amer­ic­ans who feel trapped by stu­dent loan debt.”


“Last month, thanks to the work of Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans, this Con­gress fi­nally pro­duced a budget that un­does some of last year’s severe cuts to pri­or­it­ies like edu­ca­tion. Nobody got everything they wanted, and we can still do more to in­vest in this coun­try’s fu­ture while bring­ing down our de­fi­cit in a bal­anced way. But the budget com­prom­ise should leave us freer to fo­cus on cre­at­ing new jobs, not cre­at­ing new crises.”


“Both Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans have ar­gued that our tax code is riddled with waste­ful, com­plic­ated loop­holes that pun­ish busi­nesses in­vest­ing here, and re­ward com­pan­ies that keep profits abroad. Let’s flip that equa­tion. Let’s work to­geth­er to close those loop­holes, end those in­cent­ives to ship jobs over­seas, and lower tax rates for busi­nesses that cre­ate jobs here at home.”


“Let’s con­tin­ue that pro­gress with a smarter tax policy that stops giv­ing $4 bil­lion a year to fossil fuel in­dus­tries that don’t need it, so that we can in­vest more in fuels of the fu­ture that do.”


“This Con­gress needs to re­store the un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance you just let ex­pire for 1.6 mil­lion people.”


“Last year, I asked this Con­gress to help states make high-qual­ity pre-K avail­able to every four year-old. As a par­ent as well as a Pres­id­ent, I re­peat that re­quest to­night.”

“Last year, I also pledged to con­nect 99 per­cent of our stu­dents to high-speed broad­band over the next four years. To­night, I can an­nounce that with the sup­port of the FCC and com­pan­ies like Apple, Mi­crosoft, Sprint, and Ve­r­i­zon, we’ve got a down pay­ment to start con­nect­ing more than 15,000 schools.”


“That’s why, work­ing with this Con­gress, I will re­form our sur­veil­lance pro­grams ““ be­cause the vi­tal work of our in­tel­li­gence com­munity de­pends on pub­lic con­fid­ence, here and abroad, that the pri­vacy of or­din­ary people is not be­ing vi­ol­ated.”


“And it is Amer­ic­an dip­lomacy, backed by pres­sure, that has hal­ted the pro­gress of Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram — and rolled parts of that pro­gram back — for the very first time in a dec­ade.”

“ANy long-term deal we agree to must be based on veri­fi­able ac­tion that con­vinces us and the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity that Ir­an is not build­ing a nuc­le­ar bomb. If John F. Kennedy and Ron­ald Re­agan could ne­go­ti­ate with the So­viet Uni­on, then surely a strong and con­fid­ent Amer­ica can ne­go­ti­ate with less power­ful ad­versar­ies today.”


“In Syr­ia, we’ll sup­port the op­pos­i­tion that re­jects the agenda of ter­ror­ist net­works.”

“Amer­ic­an dip­lomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al weapons are be­ing elim­in­ated, and we will con­tin­ue to work with the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity to ush­er in the fu­ture the Syr­i­an people de­serve — a fu­ture free of dic­tat­or­ship, ter­ror and fear.”


“Last year, I also pledged to con­nect 99 per­cent of our stu­dents to high-speed broad­band over the next four years. To­night, I can an­nounce that with the sup­port of the FCC and com­pan­ies like Apple, Mi­crosoft, Sprint, and Ve­r­i­zon, we’ve got a down pay­ment to start con­nect­ing more than 15,000 schools and twenty mil­lion stu­dents over the next two years, without adding a dime to the de­fi­cit.”

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“Let’s pass a pat­ent re­form bill that al­lows our busi­nesses to stay fo­cused on in­nov­a­tion, not costly, need­less lit­ig­a­tion.”


“Now, one of the biggest factors in bring­ing more jobs back is our com­mit­ment to Amer­ic­an en­ergy. The all-of-the-above en­ergy strategy I an­nounced a few years ago is work­ing, and today, Amer­ica is closer to en­ergy in­de­pend­ence than we’ve been in dec­ades.

“One of the reas­ons why is nat­ur­al gas — if ex­trac­ted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our eco­nomy with less of the car­bon pol­lu­tion that causes cli­mate change.”

10:29 p.m.: How the GOP Took the Speech

Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans showed their dis­ap­prov­al of the pres­id­ent’s agenda by largely with­hold­ing their ap­plause. When Obama said, “Let’s get im­mig­ra­tion re­form done this year,” House Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers clapped. Minor­ity Whip John Cornyn? Stone faced.

When Obama called for equal pay for equal work,  Cornyn and Minor­ity Lead­er kept their seats, while House and Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats stood to ap­plaud.

How about the sec­tion on min­im­um wage? Nope. Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers were stoics.

Of course, none of this is sur­pris­ing. But viewed through a polit­ic­al lens, the scene demon­strates just how much is at stake for Mc­Con­nell and Cornyn, who both face primar­ies in Ken­tucky and Texas. Their re­ac­tion also shows the rift that’s only deepened between Sen­ate Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans as Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id has re­cently in­creased his strong-arm tac­tics to push Obama’s ap­pointees through the con­firm­a­tion pro­cess without a Re­pub­lic­an bless­ing.

Per­haps the Sen­ate race has as great a chance as any of tip­ping the cham­ber in­to Re­pub­lic­an hands is that between Pry­or and Rep Tom Cot­ton, both of Arkan­sas. Pry­or sat on the GOP side while fel­low red-state Demo­crats Mark Be­gich, Kay Hagan and Mary Landrieu say with Demo­crats. While they ap­plauded, Pry­or fre­quently did not. But, not­ably, with Re­pub­lic­ans eager to fo­cus on the rocky rol­lout of the Af­ford­able Care Act in the hopes it could cost Demo­crats in red states, Pry­or did not sit on his hands when the pres­id­ent de­fen­ded the law.

“Let’s not have an­oth­er forty-something votes to re­peal (the) law,” Obama said.

Pry­or clapped. He did not stand.

10:28 p.m.: When the Pres­id­ent Is a Celebrity

As Obama ex­ited the cham­ber, a gaggle of House Demo­crats held out cop­ies of the speech he just de­livered and asked for him to sign. He in­dulged them in sev­er­al in­stances.

It’s not Oscars or Grammys but it’s about as close as it comes to it in #this­town.

10:26 p.m.: Who Are You?

After the speech, Rep. Jack King­ston, R-Ga., was mis­taken for a mem­ber of the press and asked to stand be­hind a red rope with rest of the me­dia. It’s a sign of just how many ad­di­tion­al Cap­it­ol Po­lice of­ficers, un­used to work­ing in­side the House, were called in to help with se­cur­ity. King­ston, a south­ern­er, was of course very po­lite about it.

10:21 p.m.: And It’s Over

There were a total of 90 in­ter­rup­tions for ap­plause, in­clud­ing 44 stand­ing ova­tions.

10:20 p.m.: Early Exits

Sev­er­al minutes be­fore the pres­id­ent fin­ished his speech, a hand­ful of mem­bers snuck out early to catch a little TV time. Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Dav­id Vit­ter and a half dozen House mem­bers beat their col­leagues to the cam­er­as to talk about their re­ac­tions to the speech they didn’t fin­ish watch­ing.

10:14 p.m.: Every­one Loves the Olympics

Obama turned the House cham­ber in­to a rally for the Amer­ic­an Olympic team. Some began chant­ing “USA! USA!” after the pres­id­ent de­clared the Amer­ic­ans will bring “home the gold.”

10:02 p.m.: Back to Guns

The pres­id­ent also touched on an is­sue that has been all but for­got­ten in Con­gress in re­cent months: gun con­trol. Though the line only re­ceived one para­graph in Obama’s 12-page speech, the pres­id­ent said that he plans to fight gun vi­ol­ence.

“I in­tend to keep try­ing, with or without Con­gress, to help stop more tra­gedies from vis­it­ing in­no­cent Amer­ic­ans in our movie theat­ers, shop­ping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook,” Obama said.

9:59 p.m.: The Biggest Ap­plause Line

The most rauc­ous ap­plause thus far came as Obama told Con­gress not to hold “40-something votes” to re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act. Demo­crats erup­ted in­to glee­ful ap­plause, al­most a re­lease of the frus­tra­tion they’ve felt in the House as bill after bill has been put on the floor to re­peal the pres­id­ent’s sig­na­ture law.

But when Obama said, “I don’t ex­pect to con­vince my Re­pub­lic­an friends on the mer­its of the law,” a num­ber of such Re­pub­lic­ans chuckled, smiled and even clapped.

9:55 p.m.: What a Fed­er­al Min­im­um Wage In­crease Would Mean For Wo­men


Per the Eco­nom­ic Policy In­sti­tute, work­ing wo­men would be more af­fected by a raise to $10.10 than men. See the wage in­crease im­pact by gender here. (EPI)

9:52 p.m.: Re­pub­lic­ans on Fair Pay

“It’s time to do away with work­place policies that be­long in a ‘Mad Men’ epis­ode,” the pres­id­ent said.

Though the ma­jor­ity of mem­bers stood up for fair pay, not many Re­pub­lic­ans stood up for Obama’s call to do away with the work­place policies of “Mad Men” and for Con­gress and Wall Street to “give every wo­man the op­por­tun­ity she de­serves.” One not­able ex­cep­tion: Rep. Bill Cas­sidy, R-La., who is chal­len­ging Landrieu for her Sen­ate seat this year.

9:47 p.m.: Ob­lig­at­ory Boehner Thumbs Up GIF

9:41: Thumbs Up for En­ergy

Demo­crat­ic Sen. Chuck Schu­mer turned around and gave a thumbs up to an ap­plaud­ing Sen. Mary Landrieu as Obama talked about the coun­try’s com­mit­ment to Amer­ic­an en­ergy. Landrieu, a Louisi­ana Demo­crat, is one of Con­gress’s top re­cip­i­ents of cam­paign funds from oil and gas in­terests and is poised to take over the power­ful En­ergy Com­mit­tee next year.

Landrieu did not, however, join her col­leagues in ap­plaud­ing one of Obama’s later lines: “Let’s con­tin­ue that pro­gress with a smarter tax policy that stops giv­ing $4 bil­lion a year to fossil fuel in­dus­tries that don’t need it, so that we can in­vest more in fuels of the fu­ture that do.”

9:40 p.m.: Hope for Im­mig­ra­tion?

House Re­pub­lic­ans are headed to a re­treat this week where they will dis­cuss a series of prin­ciples they can agree on re­gard­ing im­mig­ra­tion re­form. When Obama called for im­mig­ra­tion re­form, a hand­ful of House Re­pub­lic­ans did stand and ap­plaud, in­clud­ing Paul Ry­an of Wis­con­sin, Mario Diaz-Bal­art of Flor­ida and Sean Duffy of Wis­con­sin.

Ry­an has long en­gaged in private con­ver­sa­tions with Re­pub­lic­an law­makers on the need for com­pre­hens­ive re­form. Diaz-Bal­art has also been work­ing the is­sue, and de­cided just a few hours be­fore the ad­dress to sit next to Illinois Demo­crat — and the lead­er on im­mig­ra­tion re­form in the House — Lu­is Gu­ti­er­rez.

9:33 p.m.: Obama Says Nat­ur­al Gas Can “Power Our Eco­nomy.” Here’s Why.

Nat­ur­al gas pro­duc­tion in re­cent years has soared.

(Energy Information Administration) Energy Information Administration

9:28 p.m.: Mitch Mc­Con­nell Cracks a Smile

The first en­thu­si­ast­ic ap­plause from Mitch Mc­Con­nell to­night, for Speak­er John Boehner. Mc­Con­nell has spent the ma­jor­ity of the speech with his arms fol­ded, but at men­tion of his House coun­ter­part, Mc­Con­nell cracked a wry smile and joined his col­leagues in a stand­ing ova­tion for the speak­er.

9:26 p.m.: Why Obama Is Push­ing on Min­im­um Wage, In Charts

Here, from The At­lantic‘s Jordan Weiss­mann, is what the real value of min­im­um wage has looked like from 1938 to 2012.

(Jordan Weissmann) Jordan Weissmann

9:18 p.m.: The View From the Sen­ate

In what’s be­come a rite of winter in Wash­ing­ton, with per­haps more sym­bol­ic sig­ni­fic­ance than le­gis­lat­ive re­ver­ber­a­tion, law­makers crossed the polit­ic­al aisle and the House cham­ber’s ac­tu­al cent­ral aisle at to­night’s State of the Uni­on.

Sen. Mark Pry­or, one of the most vul­ner­able Demo­crats fa­cing reelec­tion this year, sat with Re­pub­lic­ans, to the right of Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of the most mod­er­ate mem­bers of the GOP. Mark Kirk and Joe Manchin, who de­scribe them­selves as best friends, sat side-by-side.

Sen. Dean Heller, a Nevada Re­pub­lic­an, sat with Sen. Bri­an Schatz, a Demo­crat from Hawaii. Polit­ic­al po­lar op­pos­ites, pro­gress­ive Bernie Sanders and con­ser­vat­ive Jeff Ses­sions stood shoulder-to-shoulder.

The good will wasn’t uni­ver­sal. When first lady Michelle Obama entered, law­makers turned to­ward her in the gal­lery and ap­plauded, while Sen. Chuck Grass­ley of Iowa stood with his hands fol­ded be­hind his back.

Five Su­preme Court justices are in at­tend­ance: Chief Justice John Roberts and As­so­ci­ate Justices An­thony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Gins­burg, Steph­en Brey­er and Elena Kagan.

9:13 p.m.: Wait­ing on the Pres­id­ent

Some law­makers wait all day for the chance for some face time with the pres­id­ent and top-rank­ing of­fi­cials.

Rep. Al Green, for ex­ample, sat all day long to get a coveted aisle seat. But as the pres­id­ent walked by, the Texas Demo­crat only re­ceived quick hand­shake. Obama pivoted with the flow of foot traffic, turned around, and ex­changed a couple words with an­oth­er law­maker just be­hind him. Bet­ter luck next year, Mr. Green.

8:45 p.m.: Let the House Selfies Be­gin

For all of the noise made in re­cent years about high­light­ing bi­par­tis­an­ship through State of the Uni­on seat­ing charts, this year’s ad­dress fea­tures a mostly di­vided cham­ber.

Along with some “bi­par­tis­an couples,” like Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Jeff Flake and Demo­crat­ic Sen. Tammy Bald­win, there will be op­pos­ing camps: many House Demo­crats are seated to the right of where Pres­id­ent Obama will be speak­ing, and House Re­pub­lic­ans to the left.

As law­makers walked in­to the House cham­ber, they chat­ted and took pic­tures, some even snap­ping selfies — we’re look­ing at you, Rep. Peter Welch of Ver­mont.

Contributions by Matt Berman, Michael Catalin, Lucia Graves, Elahe Izadii, Marina Koren, Sarah Mimms, Brian Resnick and Matt Vasilogambros

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