Below are some excerpts from notable reactions to President Obama’s speech tonight …
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), a key GOP ally of the White House:
Recognizing the financial strain the price of health care is placing on millions of families and employers, the President rightly made clear his intent to reform the health care system through reducing costs and increasing coverage for the more than 47 million Americans without health insurance. As we work to address this mounting crisis, it is also imperative the administration include a wide-range of Republican voices as well – because we can only create a sustainable health care system for the future if it is built on strong bipartisan support and results from a clear and transparent process. Every major legislative initiative, from Medicare to Civil Rights to Clean Air, has enjoyed strong support from both parties because representatives from both sides of the aisle were at the conference table.
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA):
Tonight, President Obama set forth a powerful vision for our country and an agenda for change that deserves the support of all Americans. The President’s unwavering commitment to enacting health care reform this year makes clear that at long last we will achieve quality, affordable health care for all Americans. I am grateful for the President’s commitment to national service and his generous comments about me. I look forward to passing bipartisan legislation to enable all young Americans to do something for their country. I will continue to stand with President Obama to build a stronger, fairer, more prosperous America in the years to come.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):
As we work to address all these concerns, we will have our differences. Republicans believe the road back to prosperity is paved with greater personal freedom, not bigger government, and that in this moment of economic hardship, we should be more vigilant about spending taxpayer dollars, not less.
But one thing is clear: working through the current troubles will require a shared commitment as we address America’s challenges ahead.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine:
As President Obama made clear tonight, there is still a lot of work to do to get our country back on track. But better days do lie ahead. In his short time in office, President Obama has already offered a comprehensive approach to get our economy moving again now and in the future. With the help of the Democratic Congress, he implemented a responsible economic recovery package that will help millions of Americans get back to work and provides meaningful tax relief for 95 percent of working families. He has proposed common-sense solutions to tackling the housing, banking, and financial crises.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA):
I hope tonight’s speech marks a turning point for the new administration, that the new kind of bipartisan leadership the President promised in his campaign materializes, rather than the take-it-or-leave-it, we-won-the-election attitude of Democratic leaders in Congress, which resulted in an economic stimulus bill that was more about special-interest spending than economic stimulus. Bipartisanship takes hard work, and it starts at the beginning of the legislative process, at the discussion and drafting tables, not at the end of the process when the camera lights are on.
Sen.-elect Al Franken (D-MN):
Once sworn in, I’ll immediately begin to work hard alongside Sen. Amy Klobuchar to advance the President’s smart, progressive agenda and fight for Minnesota families. I’ll join colleagues on both sides of the aisle in holding the administration accountable for what we authorize it to spend. And I will strive to ensure that the measures we pass are fiscally responsible, free of waste, and protected from abuse, so that the mistakes of the last eight years will not be repeated.