Alaska’s delegation responds to the State of the Union

President Obama in the Oval office

President Obama in the Oval office

President Barack Obama laid out his vision for the country last night that include new gun regulations … climate change legislation … and a new immigration policy.

The president struck a forceful tone, telling the Congress if it failed to act on certain issues, he’s willing to move his agenda without the legislature.

“I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a market based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take now and in the future to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy,” Obama said last night.

The plan the president mentions focuses around a cap and trade system. That’s something that Senator Lisa Murkowski says is unlikely in this Congress. But she does appreciate his call for bipartisanship on such a contentious issue.

“That is much better suggestion and proposal than ‘If you guys don’t do what I hope you’re going to do, then I’m going to use the backdoor and do everything through regulation,’” Murkowski says.

Senator Murkowski says she appreciates the president’s plan to create an energy security trust … taking money from oil royalties to pay for renewable energy projects.

She says it’s something she’s proposed in previous energy proposals.

“It helps us pay for some of the good ideas. And these good ideas do not come without a price tag. And I think we recognize that’s been the problem,” Murkowski says.

The energy trust the president lays out would specifically deal with transportation fuels. Senator Mark Begich also likes the idea, so long as it meets certain criteria.

“It sounds like he’s interested in revenue sharing in a broader way, putting money from oil and gas aside for renewable energy, in a sense is not a bad idea. But I would hope that doesn’t take away some of the issues we have – which are revenue sharing for our local governments, tribes and communities that are impacted,” Begich says.

In the most emotional point of the speech, Mr. Obama laid out a series of votes he want s the Congress to take … up or down motions on gun control … limiting the size of magazines and more background checks for gun sales.

The president will have a hard time getting Senator Begich on board.

“I have to see what they’re talking about. At this point, there’s no proposal on the table. I’d rather not be hypothetical. The second thing I’d say is I’m not interested in banning anything. Any amendment that comes forward with that, I’m not for,” Begich says.

The one policy area of the president’s speech that seemed to get every lawmaker of their feet was immigration. Congressman Don Young says that’s the only issue this congress can pass in a bipartisan way.

In addition to hearing the president’s ideas on immigration, Congressman Young says he was happy to hear talk of education reform, and changes to the federal minimum wage.

“I think he’s right in that one sense – I think it should be tied to the cost of living,” Young says.

Now that the president has laid out his vision for his country, he takes his message to the road.

He’ll be traveling the next couple of days … to rally support for his plans, and hope his supporters will in turn, deliver the message to Congress themselves.

 

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