Last night, President Barack Obama delivered his fourth State of the Union Address before a joint session of the 113th Congress. Not since 1887, when President Grover Cleveland faced a divided 50th Congress, has a Democratic President been confronted (again) with the challenge of doing so, in this case a Republican House and a Democratic Senate. In words that still ring true 125 years later, President Cleveland “earnestly invoke[d] such wise action on the part of the people’s legislators as will subserve the public good and demonstrate . . . its ability and inclination to so meet the people’s needs that it shall be gratefully remembered by an expectant constituency.” (President Grover Cleveland’s December 6, 1886 Second Annual Message to the United States Congress.)
In setting forth his priorities aimed largely at advancing the interests of the middle class in a speech in which he made reference to the economy and jobs 62 times, President Obama called on the 113th Congress to, among other things, enact legislation to avoid the automatic spending cuts otherwise set to hit on March 1, to produce comprehensive immigration reform legislation, to “pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change,” to make preschool universal and adopt other educational reforms, to adopt cyber security legislation to address issues beyond those that he could implement through executive action, and to adopt a variety of other measures that would create jobs and grow the economy. In addition, he made an emotional appeal for Congress to vote on gun control measures. He pledged that the war in Afghanistan would be over by the end of next year. And closer to home, he announced the formation of a non-partisan commission to “improve the voting experience in America,” which we are proud to say will be co-chaired by one of our partners, Ben Ginsberg.
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