President Barack Obama said members of Congress are blocking his nominations for political gain and tangling Washington in “gridlock” instead of dealing with important issues.
In his weekly radio and Internet address released today, Obama said lawmakers should look to the “incredible example” set by the U.S. military and work together to achieve the goals outlined in his annual State of the Union remarks on Jan. 24, which included increasing U.S. manufacturing, creating jobs in clean energy and supporting domestic oil production.
Members of the military “focus on the mission at hand” and are “not consumed with personal ambition,” Obama said, repeating a theme from his State of the Union speech.
He repeated a message from his address, calling on Congress to pass a rule that would give all judicial and public service nominations a “simple up-or-down vote within 90 days.”
Obama pointed to a statement by Utah Senator Mike Lee, a Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who said he wouldn’t vote to confirm any of Obama’s judicial nominations until the president revokes his Jan. 4 recess appointments of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three members of the National Labor Relations Board.
The Constitution gives presidents authority to make appointments without confirmation when the Senate is in recess. Republicans say Obama’s recess appointments were unlawful, because the Senate stayed in session by holding brief pro-forma meetings every three days during the holiday break.
Obama said that Lee probably thinks the nominees are qualified and accused him of “gumming up the works” to earn political points in an election year. He said that all of his judicial nominees being blocked have support from Democrats and Republicans.
He also repeated another request from his State of the Union address calling on Congress to “stem the corrosive influence of money in politics” with a bill that would limit elected officials from “owning stocks in industries they impact.” He said that so-called bundlers, who raise large sums of campaign money, shouldn’t be allowed to lobby Congress.
In the Republican address, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said the president’s State of the Union speech “pit Americans against other Americans” by telling people concerned about losing their jobs “that the way to help them is to raise their bosses’ taxes.”
Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, called the president’s populist message “divisive.”
“For the first time in my adult life, we have a president who’s asking us to abandon our economic heritage,” he said.
Obama, he said, is proposing economic policies that would make the U.S. “like the countries people come here to get away from.”
Rubio, who hasn’t endorsed a candidate ahead of Florida (BEESFL)’s Jan. 31 primary, said that American capitalism was the reason his father got a job as a bartender and it allowed him to support his family.
Still, Rubio said he recognized that he benefited from student loans and grants to get his education and he said that the government has a role to play in people’s lives.
Americans have always believed “that those who have made it fairly, can stay there. And those who are trying to make it will have a real chance to join them,” he said in a reference to the debate over illegal immigration.
Obama didn’t talk about his administration’s successes in the State of the Union “because there isn’t much” to highlight, he said. Republicans in Florida are looking forward to the primary because they “believe our country is in big trouble,” Rubio said.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at firstname.lastname@example.org