2015 State of the Union was met with Congressional opposition

The annual State of the Union Address took place this year on Jan. 20, to varied reactions amongst Urban students and politicians. While President Barack Obama spoke of the betterment of the nation under his leadership, the room remained tense, perhaps due to the progressive nature of a few of his talking points. No president had ever mentioned the rights of transgender people, or racially charged issues as respect for human dignity in a State of the Union Address. His comments were met with ecstatic applause from many Democratic members of congress and stony silence from many Republicans, highlighting the stark political differences in the room. While many may have found the president’s comments groundbreaking or inspirational, critics chiefly claimed that they exacerbated disagreements in an already politically divided congress, given the Republican majority in both houses.

“There’s not a thing in that speech that Congress will get behind … they will either disagree with everything stated and send confrontational bills that they know won’t survive a veto, or Congress will do nothing substantive and wait until the results of the 2016 presidential election,” said Greg Monfils, Urban English and History teacher.

Some critics even claimed that Obama completely neglected to address issues that Republican and Democratic congresspeople could potentially agree on. “State of the Union 2015: Obama misses opportunity with Republican Congress,” read the headline of a somewhat sarcastic Fox News article in reaction to the speech. The article cited many issues that Republicans and Democrats can potentially agree on, arguing that the President should have taken the opportunity to bridge the water between the two parties.

“Governing with a Republican led congress doesn’t have to be this hard,” stated Fox News Republican Opinion writer Matt Kibbe, in the article.

However, the Republican rebuttal to the speech was met with criticism for being inflexible and inconsiderate of the President’s appeals. While the non-Tea Party affiliated rebuttal focused chiefly on Joni Ernst’s working class upbringing in rural Iowa, Ernst also commented on Republican approval for the Keystone XL pipeline, tax and trade reform, and cutting back rights to abortion and ObamaCare coverage.

“(A prominent) part of the rebuttal for me was the Republican desire to get rid of Obamacare. (Obama) is obviously in favor of it, so he is going to veto them every time. It’s a dead end idea on their part, and I also personally think that Obamacare helps so many families and individuals get the health care they need for cheaper, so it makes no sense why Republicans feel the need to repeal this,” said Kara Fleishhacker (‘16), on the denial of compromise in Ernst’s rebuttal.

“(The Republican rebuttal) wasn’t one, insofar as they did not have a copy of Obama’s speech ahead of time. So it was just their own State of the Union,” said Monfils.

While some consider Obama’s address to be too radically left, the clear opposition demonstrated by the Republican rebuttal was disconcerting to many members of the Urban community.