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February 12, 2013 REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS U. S. Capitol Washington, D.C. - History

February 12, 2013 REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS U. S. Capitol Washington, D.C. - History



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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
_________________________________________________________________


9:15 P. M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, fellow citizens:


Fifty-one years ago, John F. Kennedy declared to this chamber that “the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress. ” (Applause.) “It is my task, ” he said, “to report the State of the Union -- to improve it is the task of us all. ”


Tonight, thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, there is much progress to report. After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home. (Applause.) After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over six million new jobs. We buy more American cars than we have in five years, and less foreign oil than we have in 20. (Applause.) Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding, and consumers, patients, and homeowners enjoy stronger protections than ever before. (Applause.)


So, together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and we can say with renewed confidence that the State of our Union is stronger. (Applause.)


But we gather here knowing that there are millions of Americans whose hard work and dedication have not yet been rewarded. Our economy is adding jobs -- but too many people still can’t find full-time employment. Corporate profits have skyrocketed to all-time highs -- but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged.


It is our generation’s task, then, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth -- a rising, thriving middle class. (Applause.)


It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country -- the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, or who you love.


It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation. (Applause.)


The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem. They don’t expect those of us in this chamber to agree on every issue. But they do expect us to put the nation’s interests before party. (Applause.) They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can. For they know that America moves forward only when we do so together, and that the responsibility of improving this union remains the task of us all.


Our work must begin by making some basic decisions about our budget -- decisions that will have a huge impact on the strength of our recovery.


Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion -- mostly through spending cuts, but also by raising tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. As a result, we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.


Now we need to finish the job. And the question is, how?


In 2011, Congress passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach our deficit goal, about a trillion dollars’ worth of budget cuts would automatically go into effect this year. These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness. They’d devastate priorities like education, and energy, and medical research. They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. That’s why Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and economists have already said that these cuts, known here in Washington as the sequester, are a really bad idea.


Now, some in Congress have proposed preventing only the defense cuts by making even bigger cuts to things like education and job training, Medicare and Social Security benefits. That idea is even worse. (Applause.)


Yes, the biggest driver of our long-term debt is the rising cost of health care for an aging population. And those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms -- otherwise, our retirement programs will crowd out the investments we need for our children, and jeopardize the promise of a secure retirement for future generations.


But we can’t ask senior citizens and working families to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and the most powerful. (Applause.) We won’t grow the middle class simply by shifting the cost of health care or college onto families that are already struggling, or by forcing communities to lay off more teachers and more cops and more firefighters. Most Americans -- Democrats, Republicans, and independents -- understand that we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. They know that broad-based economic growth requires a balanced approach to deficit reduction, with spending cuts and revenue, and with everybody doing their fair share. And that’s the approach I offer tonight.


On Medicare, I’m prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission. (Applause.)


Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs. (Applause.) And the reforms I’m proposing go even further. We’ll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest seniors. (Applause.) We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital; they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive. (Applause.) And I am open to additional reforms from both parties, so long as they don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement. Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep -- but we must keep the promises we’ve already made. (Applause.)


To hit the rest of our deficit reduction target, we should do what leaders in both parties have already suggested, and save hundreds of billions of dollars by getting rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well-off and the well-connected. After all, why would we choose to make deeper cuts to education and Medicare just to protect special interest tax breaks? How is that fair? Why is it that deficit reduction is a big emergency justifying making cuts in Social Security benefits but not closing some loopholes? How does that promote growth? (Applause.)


Now is our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit. (Applause.) We can get this done. The American people deserve a tax code that helps small businesses spend less time filling out complicated forms, and more time expanding and hiring -- a tax code that ensures billionaires with high-powered accountants can’t work the system and pay a lower rate than their hardworking secretaries; a tax code that lowers incentives to move jobs overseas, and lowers tax rates for businesses and manufacturers that are creating jobs right here in the United States of America. That’s what tax reform can deliver. That’s what we can do together. (Applause.)


I realize that tax reform and entitlement reform will not be easy. The politics will be hard for both sides. None of us will get 100 percent of what we want. But the alternative will cost us jobs, hurt our economy, visit hardship on millions of hardworking Americans. So let’s set party interests aside and work to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future. And let’s do it without the brinksmanship that stresses consumers and scares off investors. (Applause.) The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next. (Applause.) We can't do it.


Let’s agree right here, right now to keep the people’s government open, and pay our bills on time, and always uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America. (Applause.) The American people have worked too hard, for too long, rebuilding from one crisis to see their elected officials cause another. (Applause.)


Now, most of us agree that a plan to reduce the deficit must be part of our agenda. But let’s be clear, deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan. (Applause.) A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs -- that must be the North Star that guides our efforts. (Applause.) Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills they need to get those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?


A year and a half ago, I put forward an American Jobs Act that independent economists said would create more than 1 million new jobs. And I thank the last Congress for passing some of that agenda. I urge this Congress to pass the rest. (Applause.) But tonight, I’ll lay out additional proposals that are fully paid for and fully consistent with the budget framework both parties agreed to just 18 months ago. Let me repeat -- nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime. It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth. (Applause.) That's what we should be looking for.


Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing. After shedding jobs for more than 10 years, our manufacturers have added about 500,000 jobs over the past three. Caterpillar is bringing jobs back from Japan. Ford is bringing jobs back from Mexico. And this year, Apple will start making Macs in America again. (Applause.)

There are things we can do, right now, to accelerate this trend. Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns.


So tonight, I’m announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Department of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs. And I ask this Congress to help create a network of 15 of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is made right here in America. We can get that done. (Applause.)

Now, if we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas. Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy -- every dollar. Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s. They’re developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs; devising new material to make batteries 10 times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race. We need to make those investments. (Applause.)

Today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy. After years of talking about it, we’re finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. (Applause.) We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar -- with tens of thousands of good American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before -- and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen.


But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. (Applause.) Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods -- all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science -- and act before it’s too late. (Applause.)


Now, the good news is we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, 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 soon to protect future generations, I will. (Applause.) 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.


Four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it. And we’ve begun to change that. Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year -- let’s drive down costs even further. As long as countries like China keep going all in on clean energy, so must we.


Now, in the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. We need to encourage that. And that’s why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. (Applause.) That’s got to be part of an all-of-the-above plan. But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and our water.


In fact, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good. If a nonpartisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we. Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long.


I’m also issuing a new goal for America: Let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next 20 years. (Applause.) We'll work with the states to do it. Those states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make that happen.


America’s energy sector is just one part of an aging infrastructure badly in need of repair. Ask any CEO where they’d rather locate and hire -- a country with deteriorating roads and bridges, or one with high-speed rail and Internet; high-tech schools, self-healing power grids. The CEO of Siemens America -- a company that brought hundreds of new jobs to North Carolina -- said that if we upgrade our infrastructure, they’ll bring even more jobs. And that’s the attitude of a lot of companies all around the world. And I know you want these job-creating projects in your district. I’ve seen all those ribbon-cuttings. (Laughter.)


So tonight, I propose a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. (Applause.) And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods, modern pipelines to withstand a storm, modern schools worthy of our children. (Applause.) Let’s prove that there’s no better place to do business than here in the United States of America, and let’s start right away. We can get this done.

And part of our rebuilding effort must also involve our housing sector. The good news is our housing market is finally healing from the collapse of 2007. Home prices are rising at the fastest pace in six years. Home purchases are up nearly 50 percent, and construction is expanding again.

But even with mortgage rates near a 50-year low, too many families with solid credit who want to buy a home are being rejected. Too many families who never missed a payment and want to refinance are being told no. That’s holding our entire economy back. We need to fix it.

Right now, there’s a bill in this Congress that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s rates. Democrats and Republicans have supported it before, so what are we waiting for? Take a vote, and send me that bill. (Applause.) Why would we be against that? (Applause.) Why would that be a partisan issue, helping folks refinance? Right now, overlapping regulations keep responsible young families from buying their first home. What’s holding us back? Let’s streamline the process, and help our economy grow.

These initiatives in manufacturing, energy, infrastructure, housing -- all these things will help entrepreneurs and small business owners expand and create new jobs. But none of it will matter unless we also equip our citizens with the skills and training to fill those jobs. (Applause.)

And that has to start at the earliest possible age. Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for a private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives. So tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America. (Applause.) That's something we should be able to do.

Every dollar we invest in high-quality early childhood education can save more than seven dollars later on -- by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime. In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own. We know this works. So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance. (Applause.)

Let’s also make sure that a high school diploma puts our kids on a path to a good job. Right now, countries like Germany focus on graduating their high school students with the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges. So those German kids, they're ready for a job when they graduate high school. They've been trained for the jobs that are there. Now at schools like P-Tech in Brooklyn, a collaboration between New York Public Schools and City University of New York and IBM, students will graduate with a high school diploma and an associate's degree in computers or engineering.
We need to give every American student opportunities like this. (Applause.)

And four years ago, we started Race to the Top -- a competition that convinced almost every state to develop smarter curricula and higher standards, all for about 1 percent of what we spend on education each year. Tonight, I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. And we’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math -- the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill the jobs that are there right now and will be there in the future.

Now, even with better high schools, most young people will need some higher education. It’s a simple fact the more education you’ve got, the more likely you are to have a good job and work your way into the middle class. But today, skyrocketing costs price too many young people out of a higher education, or saddle them with unsustainable debt.

Through tax credits, grants and better loans, we’ve made college more affordable for millions of students and families over the last few years. But taxpayers can’t keep on subsidizing higher and higher and higher costs for higher education. Colleges must do their part to keep costs down, and it’s our job to make sure that they do. (Applause.)

So tonight, I ask Congress to change the Higher Education Act so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid. (Applause.) And tomorrow, my administration will release a new “College Scorecard” that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria -- where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.

Now, to grow our middle class, our citizens have to have access to the education and training that today’s jobs require. But we also have to make sure that America remains a place where everyone who’s willing to work -- everybody who’s willing to work hard has the chance to get ahead.

Our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants. (Applause.) And right now, leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement, faith communities -- they all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform. (Applause.) Now is the time to do it. Now is the time to get it done. (Applause.)

Real reform means strong border security, and we can build on the progress my administration has already made -- putting more boots on the Southern border than at any time in our history and reducing illegal crossings to their lowest levels in 40 years.

Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship -- a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally. (Applause.)

And real reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy. (Applause.)

In other words, we know what needs to be done. And as we speak, bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and I applaud their efforts. So let’s get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away. And America will be better for it. (Applause.) Let’s get it done. Let’s get it done.

But we can’t stop there. We know our economy is stronger when our wives, our mothers, our daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace, and free from the fear of domestic violence. Today, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act that Joe Biden originally wrote almost 20 years ago. And I now urge the House to do the same. (Applause.) Good job, Joe. And I ask this Congress to declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts, and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year. (Applause.)

We know our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day’s work with honest wages. But today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong. That’s why, since the last time this Congress raised the minimum wage, 19 states have chosen to bump theirs even higher.

Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. (Applause.) We should be able to get that done. (Applause.)

This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families. It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead. For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. And a whole lot of folks out there would probably need less help from government. In fact, working folks shouldn’t have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher. So here’s an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on last year -- let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on. (Applause.)

Tonight, let’s also recognize that there are communities in this country where no matter how hard you work, it is virtually impossible to get ahead. Factory towns decimated from years of plants packing up. Inescapable pockets of poverty, urban and rural, where young adults are still fighting for their first job. America is not a place where the chance of birth or circumstance should decide our destiny. And that’s why we need to build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class for all who are willing to climb them.

Let’s offer incentives to companies that hire Americans who’ve got what it takes to fill that job opening, but have been out of work so long that no one will give them a chance anymore. Let’s put people back to work rebuilding vacant homes in run-down neighborhoods. And this year, my administration will begin to partner with 20 of the hardest-hit towns in America to get these communities back on their feet. We’ll work with local leaders to target resources at public safety, and education, and housing.

We’ll give new tax credits to businesses that hire and invest. And we’ll work to strengthen families by removing the financial deterrents to marriage for low-income couples, and do more to encourage fatherhood -- because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child; it’s having the courage to raise one. And we want to encourage that. We want to help that. (Applause.)

Stronger families. Stronger communities. A stronger America. It is this kind of prosperity -- broad, shared, built on a thriving middle class -- that has always been the source of our progress at home. It’s also the foundation of our power and influence throughout the world.

Tonight, we stand united in saluting the troops and civilians who sacrifice every day to protect us. Because of them, we can say with confidence that America will complete its mission in Afghanistan and achieve our objective of defeating the core of al Qaeda. (Applause.)

Already, we have brought home 33,000 of our brave servicemen and women. This spring, our forces will move into a support role, while Afghan security forces take the lead. Tonight, I can announce that over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue and by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over. (Applause.)

Beyond 2014, America’s commitment to a unified and sovereign Afghanistan will endure, but the nature of our commitment will change. We're negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government that focuses on two missions -- training and equipping Afghan forces so that the country does not again slip into chaos, and counterterrorism efforts that allow us to pursue the remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates.

Today, the organization that attacked us on 9/11 is a shadow of its former self. (Applause.) It's true, different al Qaeda affiliates and extremist groups have emerged -- from the Arabian Peninsula to Africa. The threat these groups pose is evolving. But to meet this threat, we don’t need to send tens of thousands of our sons and daughters abroad or occupy other nations. Instead, we'll need to help countries like Yemen, and Libya, and Somalia provide for their own security, and help allies who take the fight to terrorists, as we have in Mali. And where necessary, through a range of capabilities, we will continue to take direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans. (Applause.)

Now, as we do, we must enlist our values in the fight. That's why my administration has worked tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism efforts. Throughout, we have kept Congress fully informed of our efforts. I recognize that in our democracy, no one should just take my word for it that we’re doing things the right way. So in the months ahead, I will continue to engage Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world. (Applause.)

Of course, our challenges don’t end with al Qaeda. America will continue to lead the effort to prevent the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons. The regime in North Korea must know they will only achieve security and prosperity by meeting their international obligations. Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only further isolate them, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats.

Likewise, the leaders of Iran must recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution, because a coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations, and we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)

At the same time, we’ll engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals, and continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands -- because our ability to influence others depends on our willingness to lead and meet our obligations.

America must also face the rapidly growing threat from cyber-attacks. (Applause.) Now, we know hackers steal people’s identities and infiltrate private emails. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.

And that’s why, earlier today, I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy. (Applause.)

But now Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks. This is something we should be able to get done on a bipartisan basis. (Applause.)

Now, even as we protect our people, we should remember that today’s world presents not just dangers, not just threats, it presents opportunities. To boost American exports, support American jobs and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia, we intend to complete negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership. And tonight, I’m announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union -- because trade that is fair and free across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs. (Applause.)

We also know that progress in the most impoverished parts of our world enriches us all -- not only because it creates new markets, more stable order in certain regions of the world, but also because it’s the right thing to do. In many places, people live on little more than a dollar a day. So the United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades by connecting more people to the global economy; by empowering women; by giving our young and brightest minds new opportunities to serve, and helping communities to feed, and power, and educate themselves; by saving the world’s children from preventable deaths; and by realizing the promise of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach. (Applause.)

You see, America must remain a beacon to all who seek freedom during this period of historic change. I saw the power of hope last year in Rangoon, in Burma, when Aung San Suu Kyi welcomed an American President into the home where she had been imprisoned for years; when thousands of Burmese lined the streets, waving American flags, including a man who said, “There is justice and law in the United States. I want our country to be like that. ”

In defense of freedom, we’ll remain the anchor of strong alliances from the Americas to Africa; from Europe to Asia. In the Middle East, we will stand with citizens as they demand their universal rights, and support stable transitions to democracy. (Applause.)

We know the process will be messy, and we cannot presume to dictate the course of change in countries like Egypt, but we can -- and will -- insist on respect for the fundamental rights of all people. We’ll keep the pressure on a Syrian regime that has murdered its own people, and support opposition leaders that respect the rights of every Syrian. And we will stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace. (Applause.)

These are the messages I'll deliver when I travel to the Middle East next month. And all this work depends on the courage and sacrifice of those who serve in dangerous places at great personal risk –- our diplomats, our intelligence officers, and the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. As long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, we will do whatever we must to protect those who serve their country abroad, and we will maintain the best military the world has ever known. (Applause.)

We'll invest in new capabilities, even as we reduce waste and wartime spending. We will ensure equal treatment for all servicemembers, and equal benefits for their families -- gay and straight. (Applause.) We will draw upon the courage and skills of our sisters and daughters and moms, because women have proven under fire that they are ready for combat.

We will keep faith with our veterans, investing in world-class care, including mental health care, for our wounded warriors -- (applause) -- supporting our military families; giving our veterans the benefits and education and job opportunities that they have earned. And I want to thank my wife, Michelle, and Dr. Jill Biden for their continued dedication to serving our military families as well as they have served us. Thank you, honey. Thank you, Jill. (Applause.)

Defending our freedom, though, is not just the job of our military alone. We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home. That includes one of the most fundamental right of a democracy: the right to vote. (Applause.) When any American, no matter where they live or what their party, are denied that right because they can’t afford to wait for five or six or seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals. (Applause.)

So tonight, I’m announcing a nonpartisan commission to improve the voting experience in America. And it definitely needs improvement. I’m asking two long-time experts in the field -- who, by the way, recently served as the top attorneys for my campaign and for Governor Romney’s campaign -- to lead it. We can fix this, and we will. The American people demand it, and so does our democracy. (Applause.)

Of course, what I’ve said tonight matters little if we don’t come together to protect our most precious resource: our children. It has been two months since Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different. Overwhelming majorities of Americans -- Americans who believe in the Second Amendment -- have come together around common-sense reform, like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. (Applause.) Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals. Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because these police chiefs, they’re tired of seeing their guys and gals being outgunned.

Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. (Applause.) Now, if you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun -- more than a thousand.

One of those we lost was a young girl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was 15 years old. She loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house.

Hadiya’s parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote. (Applause.) Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. (Applause.) The families of Newtown deserve a vote. (Applause.) The families of Aurora deserve a vote. (Applause.) The families of Oak Creek and Tucson and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence –- they deserve a simple vote. (Applause.) They deserve a simple vote.

Our actions will not prevent every senseless act of violence in this country. In fact, no laws, no initiatives, no administrative acts will perfectly solve all the challenges I’ve outlined tonight. But we were never sent here to be perfect. We were sent here to make what difference we can, to secure this nation, expand opportunity, uphold our ideals through the hard, often frustrating, but absolutely necessary work of self-government.

We were sent here to look out for our fellow Americans the same way they look out for one another, every single day, usually without fanfare, all across this country. We should follow their example.

We should follow the example of a New York City nurse named Menchu Sanchez. When Hurricane Sandy plunged her hospital into darkness, she wasn’t thinking about how her own home was faring. Her mind was on the 20 precious newborns in her care and the rescue plan she devised that kept them all safe.

We should follow the example of a North Miami woman named Desiline Victor. When Desiline arrived at her polling place, she was told the wait to vote might be six hours. And as time ticked by, her concern was not with her tired body or aching feet, but whether folks like her would get to have their say. And hour after hour, a throng of people stayed in line to support her -- because Desiline is 102 years old. (Applause.) And they erupted in cheers when she finally put on a sticker that read, “I voted. ” (Applause.)


We should follow the example of a police officer named Brian Murphy. When a gunman opened fire on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and Brian was the first to arrive, he did not consider his own safety. He fought back until help arrived and ordered his fellow officers to protect the safety of the Americans worshiping inside, even as he lay bleeding from 12 bullet wounds. And when asked how he did that, Brian said, “That’s just the way we’re made. ”

That’s just the way we’re made. We may do different jobs and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title -- we are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations, that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter of our American story.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless these United States of America. (Applause.)

END 10:16 P. EST


Obama speech steers clear of compromise

1 of 12 Tisha Kenny, of San Francisco, reacts during a State of the Union watch party for President Obama's State of the Union address in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, February 12, 2013. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 12 President Barack Obama gestures toward Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio before giving his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Pool / Charles DharapakCHARLES DHARAPAK/AFP/Getty Images Charles Dharapak/AFP/Getty Images Show More Show Less

4 of 12 President Barack Obama gestures as he gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool) Charles Dharapak/Associated Press Show More Show Less

5 of 12 President Barack Obama blows a kiss before giving his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, February 12, 2013. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT) Olivier Douliery/McClatchy-Tribune News Service Show More Show Less

7 of 12 WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Facing a divided Congress, Obama concentrated his speech on new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy and said, "It’s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth". (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Show More Show Less

8 of 12 President Barack Obama's speech rests on the podium as he delivers his State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, Feb. 12, 2013. The first State of the Union speech of President Obama's second term advances an expansive agenda focused on the economy and jobs, according to summaries provided to reporters. (Stephen Crowley/The New York Times) Stephen Crowley/New York Times Show More Show Less

10 of 12 Bobak Ferdowsi, flight director, Mars Curiosity Rover, arrives as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama for President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2103, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press Show More Show Less

11 of 12 President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool) Charles Dharapak/Associated Press Show More Show Less

He opened with a populist rallying cry about corporate profits being "at all-time highs" while middle-class incomes "have barely budged."

He closed with a battle cry for gun control, in the name of the dead children of Newtown, the gravely injured former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and a Chicago high school majorette who loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss.

In between, President Obama delivered a State of the Union speech Tuesday night with lots of red meat for Democratic partisans but precious little hope to end the partisan gridlock that has paralyzed Washington through his first term and into his second.

For more than an hour, before a House chamber filled with dozens of victims of gun violence, Obama continued to tweak Republicans on issues ranging from tax cuts for the rich to proposed cuts to Medicare and Social Security. But he offered little in the way of a bipartisan olive branch - except for his carefully worded praise for bipartisan efforts to reach agreement on comprehensive immigration reform.

"Obama gave little ground to his adversaries," said Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

GOP riled - Dems inspired

Galston, a former adviser to Bill Clinton, said Obama "advanced a vision of an activist government" in "a high-stakes gamble" that, if it fails, would leave him with "an unpleasant choice between negotiating with a weakened hand and accepting gridlock."

If the president's goal was to rile up Republicans, he clearly succeeded. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, called the address "long on rhetoric and short on constructive ideas." Republican pollster Steve Lombardo said it was "a very liberal, progressive speech. The content of this speech contains far more government action than anything from (Bill) Clinton."

But the same things about the speech that Republicans loathed, Democrats loved.

"Our No. 1 priority must be keeping our economy growing, and President Obama laid out a bold road map for doing just that," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

Republicans, in turn, criticized Obama for what was missing from the speech - a framework for reducing the federal deficit or slowing the growth of entitlement spending.

"President Obama failed to present a real plan to balance the budget and begin to pay down our debt," said Republican consultant and former Senate aide Matt Mackowiak, "instead recycling tired liberal ideas that are dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled House."

Sounding familiar themes

But Obama's audience was not sitting in the House chamber. Instead, it consisted of Americans watching on their television sets or their laptops and iPads.


Who Earns the Minimum Wage? Suburban Teenagers, Not Single Parents

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for raising minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. He argued that “no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.”[1] Most minimum-wage workers, however, are not poor. Congress should examine which workers—that would not lose their jobs—would benefit from a higher minimum wage.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau show that most minimum-wage earners are young, part-time workers and that relatively few of them live below the poverty line. Their average family income is over $53,000 a year. A hike in the minimum wage primarily raises pay for suburban teenagers, not the working poor. If Congress and the President seriously want to help the working poor, they should look elsewhere.

Few Minimum-Wage Positions

Relatively few Americans earn the federal minimum wage.[2] In 2011 and 2012, 3.7 million Americans reported earning $7.25 or less per hour—just 2.9 percent of all workers in the United States.[3] These numbers include workers who also earn tip income. Many of those earning less than the minimum wage work in restaurants and make more than the minimum wage after taking tips into account.

Minimum-wage earners fall into two distinct categories: young workers, usually in school, and older workers who have left school. Most minimum-wage earners fall into the first category just over half are between the ages of 16 and 24.[4] The rest are 25 or older.

* denotes addresses not considered official State of the Union messages

  • Lenny Skutnik: Federal Government employee who dove into the icy Potomic River after the Air Florida crash to save a woman
  • Sgt. Stephen Trujillo: Sergeant, US Army who participated in the U.S. involvement in Grenada
  • Mother Clara Hale: from Harlem, NYC, New York who cares for abandoned children
  • Cadet Jean Nguyen: Cadet, United States Military Academy at West Point
  • Trevor Ferrell: 13-year old who helps the homeless in Philadelphia
  • Shelby Butler: 13-year old school safety patrol hero
  • Tyrone Ford: 12-year old music prodigy
  • Richard Cavoli: private citizen who designed a science experiment in high school that was lost during the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger
  • Gov. Carroll Campbell: Governor (R-SC) who worked with the president in setting national education goals
  • Gov. Terry Branstad: Governor (R-IA) who worked with the president in setting national education goals
  • Gov. Bill Clinton: Governor (D-AR) who worked with the president in setting national education goals
  • Gov. Booth Gardner: Governor (D-WA) who worked with the president in setting national education goals
  • Alma Powell: wife of General Colin Powell
  • Brenda Schwarzkopf: wife of General Norman Schwarzkopf
  • Kevin Jett: New York City police officer
  • Jim Brady: former Reagan Press Secretary who was wounded in the 1981 attempt to assassinate President Reagan
  • Jack Lucas: Congressional Medal of Honor receipient who fought at Iwo Jima - from Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  • Reverend Diana Cherry: AME Zion Church in Temple Hills, MD
  • Reverend John Cherry: AME Zion Church in Temple Hills, MD
  • Cpl. Gregory Depestre: who participated in U.S. involvement in Haiti
  • Chief Stephen Bishop: Police Chief, Kansas City, MO active in community policing
  • Cindy Perry: Kentucky teacher in the AmeriCorps Program
  • Sgt. Jennifer Rodgers: Sergeant, Oklahoma City Police Department who helped save victims of the bombing of the Federal Building
  • Lucius Wright: Teacher in Jackson, MS who works to keep kids from joining gangs
  • Richard Dean: Social Security Administration employee in Oklahoma City who assisted victims of the bombing of the Federal Building
  • Gen. Barry McCaffrey: as nominee to become Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • Gov. Gary Locke: Governor (D-WA) who is the first Chinese-American state governor
  • Mary Alice (Tejeda?): sister of Texas Congressman Frank Tejeda who was buried the day before the President's address
  • Lillie Tejeda: mother of Texas Congressman Frank Tejeda who was buried the day before the President's address
  • Dr. Kristen Zarfos: Connecticut surgeon
  • Sue Winski: from Illinois, teacher of students Tanner and Getsler
  • Chris Getsler: from Illinois, among students who tied for first in the world in science and came in second in math in the Third International Math and Science Study
  • Kristen Tanner: from Illinois, among students who tied for first in the world in science and came in second in math in the Third International Math and Science Study
  • Sgt. Michael Tolbert: Sergeant, US Army who participated in U.S. involvement in Bosnia
  • Elaine Kinslow: private citizen from Indianapolis, IN who was noted as a model of someone coming off welfare
  • Rosa Parks: Civil Rights pioneer
  • Suzann Wilson: a gun-control advocate from Jonesboro, Arkansas
  • Sammy Sosa: professional baseball player, Chicago Cubs
  • Captain Jeff Taliaferro: U.S. Air Force who flew a B-1B bomber over Iraq in Operation Desert Fox
  • Tipper Gore: wife of Vice-President Al Gore who led efforts to address mental illness
  • Wenling Chestnut: widow of Capitol police officer killed in the line of duty
  • Lyn Gibson: widow of Capitol police officer killed in the line of duty
  • Hank Aaron: former professional baseball player and career home run leader
  • Janet Cohen: wife of Defense Secretary William Cohen who worked to show public support for service personnel
  • Captain John Cherrey: U.S. Air Force pilot who rescued an American pilot shot down over Bosnia
  • Tom Mauser: father of Daniel Mauser who was killed during a rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado
  • Carlos Rosas: private citzen from St. Paul, MN
  • Lloyd Bentsen: former U.S. Senator and Clinton's first Treasury Secretary
  • Josefina Ramos: private citizen from Pennsylvania whom the Presiden't cited as an example of an ordinary American who would be advantaged by tax cuts
  • Steven Ramos: private citizen from Pennsylvania whom the Presiden't cited as an example of an ordinary American who would be advantaged by tax cuts
  • Mayor John Street: Mayor of Philadelphia who promoted faith-based initiatives
  • Christina Jones: flight attendant who helped thwart an attempt to detonate a "shoe bomb"
  • Hermis Moutardier: flight attendant who helped thwart an attempt to detonate a "shoe bomb"
  • Shannon Spann: widow of CIA officer Michael Spann who was killed in Afghanistan
  • Dr. Sima Samar: Afghanistan's Minister of Women's Affairs
  • Chairman Hamid Karzai: leader of Afghanistan
  • Adnan Pachachi: President of the Iraqi Governing Council
  • Safia Taleb al-Suhail: an Iraqi democracy and human rights activist whose father was killed by Saddam Hussein
  • Bill Norwood: father of Marine Corps Sergeant Byron Norwood of Pflugerville, Texas who was killed during the assult on Fallujah in Iraq
  • Janet Norwood: mother of Marine Corps Sergeant Byron Norwood of Pflugerville, Texas who was killed during the assult on Fallujah in Iraq
  • Bud Clay: father of Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Dan Clay who was killed in Fallujah in Iraq
  • Sara Jo Clay: mother of Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Dan Clay who was killed in Fallujah in Iraq
  • Lisa Clay: widow of Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Dan Clay who was killed in Fallujah in Iraq
  • Sergeant Tommy Rieman: volunteer member of the U.S. Army who earned the Silver Star for bravery in action
  • Wesley Autrey: hero who jumped onto subway tracks in Harlem to save a man
  • Julie Aigner-Clark: businesswoman who started the Baby Einstein Company. After being bought by the Walt Disney Corporation, it has grown into a $200 million business. After her business success she devotes time helping missing and exploited children.
  • Dikembe Mutombo: Georgetown and NBA basketball star from Africa who earned U.S. citizenship and later built a hospital in his native Congo.
  • Leonard Abess: "a bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him."
  • Ty'Sheoma Bethea: a schoolgirl from Dillon, South Carolina who wrote a letter to members of Congress asking for help to revitalize her school.
  • Robert and Gary Allen: Partners in the family business, Allen Brothers Inc., a roofing products manufacturing company. With the help of $500,000 from the Recovery Act, the Allen brothers were able to retool half of their manufacturing facility.
  • Kathy Proctor: When she was laid off in 2009, Kathy began taking classes in biotechnology at Forsyth Technical Community College. Kathy will graduate in July 2011, with an Associate Degree in Science.
  • James Howard: Diagnosed with brain cancer in March 2010. He was able to join the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan to get medical treatment.
  • Jim Houser: Owner of an auto repair shop in Portland, Oregon. The Affordable Care Act provides tax credits for his small business to offer employees health insurance.
  • Brandon Fisher: Owner of a small business, Center Rock, in Berlin, Pennsylvania that specializes in a new kind of drilling technology. Center Rock manufactured the drill bits and other equipment used to find and rescue 33 trapped Chilean miners in October 2010.
  • Jackie Bray: "a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic. Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College. The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training. It paid Jackie's tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant."
  • Bryan Ritterby: "was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried that at 55, no one would give him a second chance. But he found work at Energetx, a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan. Before the recession, the factory only made luxury yachts. Today, it's hiring workers like Bryan, who said, 'I'm proud to be working in the industry of the future.'"
  • Nate and Cleo Pendleton: The parents of Hadiya Pendleton, a majorette who performed with her classmates at the President's second inauguration. Hadiya was killed by gunfire in a Chicago park just a week after the inauguration.
  • Menchu Sanchez: A New York City nurse who cared for 20 newborn children during Hurricane Sandy.
  • Desiline Victor: A 102 year-old woman from North Miami who waited six hours to vote in the 2012 Election.
  • Brian Murphy: A police officer from Wisconsin who was a first responder to a shooting at a Sikh temple. He continued to fight the shooters and was shot 12 times.
  • Andra Rush: Started Detroit Manufacturing Systems and found trained employees through an "American Jobs Center".
  • Misty DeMars: A mother and wife who has been employed since she was a teenager who lost needed unemployment benefits when Congress chose not to extend unemployment compensation benefits.
  • Estiven Rodriguez: The son of a factory worker who emigrated to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic and learned English at age nine. He recently was admitted to college.
  • Nick Chute and his employer John Soranno who owns "Punch Pizza" in Minneapolis. Soranno voluntarily decided to raise his workers' wages above the minimum wage to $10 per hour.
  • Amanda Shelley: A physician's assistant and single mom from Arizona who previously could not obtain health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Under the Affordable Care Act, she was able to obtain a policy and days later, needed emergency surgery and was covered.
  • Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky: Acknowledged by the president as a governor committed to making sure his state's citizens have health insurance.
  • Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg: An Army Ranger who was almost killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. "Over the years, he's endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, hours of grueling rehab every day."
  • Rebekah and Ben Erler: A young couple from Minneapolis who saved money, worked hard, enrolled in community college, and eventually were able to save enough to buy a home and get well-paying jobs. Presented by the president as an example of a typical middle-class family he seeks to represent.
  • Captain Scott Kelly: An astronaut who will begin a year-long stay in space as an experiment for a future manned mission to Mars.
  • Alan Gross: A contractor employed by the U.S. Agency for International Development who was imprisoned in Cuba for bringing phones and computer equipment into the country. His release on December 17, 2014 is considered to be an element of the thawing of U.S.-Cuban relations that began that month.
  • Megan Crowley: At 15 months old, Megan was diagnosed with Pompe Disease and not expected to live more than a few short years. To look for a cure, her father founded Novazyme Pharmaceuticals, a five-person startup that he built into a 100-person company. Megan, age 20, is now a sophomore at Notre Dame.
  • Jessica Davis & Susan Oliver: Widows of Detective Michael Davis and Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver, who were California police officers killed in the line of duty in 2014 by an illegal immigrant. Their names are memorialized in the Davis-Oliver bill, which is aimed to increase cooperation between Federal and local officials to enforce our Nation's immigration laws.
  • Denisha Merriweather: After struggling with coursework as a child and switching schools often, Denisha moved in with her godmother and enrolled in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. She began going to a private school, Esprit de Corps Center for Learning, and would go on to be the first member of her family to graduate from high school and college.
  • Maureen McCarthy Scalia: Widow of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • Jamiel Shaw, Sr.: Mr. Shaw's son, Jamiel Jr., was a high school football star before he was tragically shot by an illegal immigrant, who was also a gang member, in 2008.
  • Carryn Owens: Widow of U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens, a SEAL, who was killed in the Yakla raid in Yemen on January 29, 2017.
  • Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert: An aviation electronics technician, she rescued dozens of Americans during the devastating hurricane season, including lifting a woman and four children to safety in a basket.
  • David Dahlberg: A fire prevention technician in southern California. He saved 62 children and staff members in July 2017 from a raging wildfire that encircled their camp.
  • Steve Staub and Sandy Keplingerg: These siblings started Staub Manufacturing Solutions, and thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, they have grown their team from 23 to 37 employees over the last year, acquired a new building for expansion, and given all their employees larger Christmas bonuses
  • Corey Adams: A skilled welder at Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Ohio [see preceding].
  • Preston Sharp: Preston has organized the placement of more than 40,000 American flags and red carnations on soldiers’ graves.
  • Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens: the parents of Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas, who had been close friends since elementary school. In September 2016, the two girls were chased down and brutally murdered by MS-13.
  • Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Celestino Martinez: He spent much of his 15-year tenure working with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations to dismantle criminal organizations, resulting in more than 100 arrests of MS-13 gang members who were prosecuted for crimes including homicide, assault, and narcotics and weapons trafficking.
  • Ryan Holets: Police Officer Holetes and his wife adopted a baby from parents who suffered from opioid addiction, breaking down walls between drug addicts and police officers to help save lives.
  • Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck: While clearing explosives in Raqqa, Syria, Sergeant Peck hereoically rescued a badly wounded comrade. Today, Raqqa is liberated, and Justin is wearing his new Bronze Star, with a "V" for valor.
  • Fred and Cindy Warmbier: Parents of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student when he was detained in the Pyongyang airport in North Korea. Otto spent 17 months in captivity before being released in severe condition and passing away four days after his return to the United States.
  • Mr. Ji Sung-ho: A North Korean defector who grew up during the country’s grueling famine in the 1990s. In 2006, he escaped to South Korea, where he is now a law student at Dongguk University and the president of Now Action and Unity for Human Rights.
  • Alice Johnson: President Trump granted Alice Johnson clemency on June 6, 2018. Alice had been serving a mandatory life sentence without parole for charges associated with a nonviolent drug case. During her nearly 22 years of incarceration, Alice accomplished what has been called an “extraordinary rehabilitation.” After her release, she was overjoyed to be reunited with her family. She has now dedicated her life to helping those who are in a similar position as she was and giving a voice to the criminal justice reform movement.
  • Matthew Charles: Matthew Charles’s life is a story of redemption. In 1996, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison for selling crack cocaine and other related offenses. While in prison, Matthew found God, completed more than 30 bible studies, became a law clerk, taught GED classes, and mentored fellow inmates. On January 3, 2019, Matthew was the first prisoner released as a result of the First Step Act.
  • Debra Bissell, Heather Armstrong, Madison Armstrong: Gerald and Sharon David of Reno, Nevada, were tragically murdered in their home in Nevada by an illegal immigrant in January 2019. The terrible loss has devastated both their community and three generations of their family who will be represented at the State of the Union: the Davids’ daughter Debra, granddaughter Heather, and great-granddaughter Madison.
  • Elvin Hernandez: Elvin Hernandez is a Special Agent with the Trafficking in Persons Unit of the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations division. He has more than 18 years of Federal law enforcement experience investigating narcotics, gangs, and human trafficking. During his current 7-year assignment, Elvin has conducted numerous successful international human trafficking investigations involving transnational organized crime groups.
  • Grace Eline: Everyone who knows Grace would tell you that she has always been special. Wherever she goes, she brightens the room with her kind heart and infectious smile. At an early age, she decided that she wanted to forgo gifts at her birthday parties, and instead ask for charity donations. At 9 years old, Grace was diagnosed with Germinoma, a germ-cell brain tumor, and in May 2018, Grace started cancer treatment. Throughout the rest of the year, Grace stayed positive and strong, making the rounds in the hospital, cheering up other patients, and always having a smile for the many caring medical professionals who treated her. Grace recently finished chemotherapy and today shows no evidence of the disease. She is determined to help other children who are fighting cancer.
  • Tom Wibberley: Tom Wibberley is the father of Navy Seaman Craig Wibberley, a Seaman killed on the U.S.S. Cole. Craig grew up in Williamsport, Maryland, and enjoyed fly fishing, snow skiing, and working with his father on old Corvettes. He had a passion for computer science and decided to join the Navy to serve his country and pursue an opportunity to further his training in computers. Craig served aboard the U.S.S. Cole with distinction and was accepted to the Navy Information Technician School. His commander planned to recommend him for Officer Candidate School. However, on October 12, 2000, Craig and 16 fellow members of the crew were killed in a terrorist attack. Craig was only 19. After Craig’s death, a scholarship fund was created that gives out four $ 1,000 scholarships each year to students studying computer science.
  • Timothy Matson: Timothy Matson joined the Pittsburgh Police Department in 2005 and made the SWAT team in 2016. As a key member of the SWAT team, he would breach the entrance during raids, a very dangerous task. In October 2018, Tim responded to the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds and saved countless lives in that heinous, anti-Semitic attack.
  • Judah Samet: Judah Samet is a member of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. In October 2018, he survived the horrific shooting that killed 11 members of his community. Judah is also a survivor of the Holocaust. Judah immigrated to Israel after the war and was present for the declaration of the Israeli State in 1948. He served as a paratrooper and radio man in the Israeli Defense Forces and moved to the United States in the 1960s.
  • Joshua Kaufman: Joshua Kaufman endured the horrors of Auschwitz and survived the Dachau Concentration Camp, where he was saved by American soldiers. By the end of the war, Joshua had lost most of his family. He left Europe for Israel in 1949 and joined the Israel Defense Forces, fighting in several wars. While on vacation in Los Angeles, Joshua met and married his wife, Margaret. He then moved to the United States and became a licensed plumber. Joshua and Margaret have been happily married for 43 years and have 4 children and 4 grandchildren.
  • Irving Locker: American veteran Irving Locker landed at Utah Beach on D-Day with the 116th AAA gun battalion. He fought through five major battles of World War II, including the Battle of the Bulge, and later helped liberate a Holocaust Concentration Camp. Irving is dedicated to educating the next generation and making certain all Americans remember the trials and victories of World War II.
  • Private Joseph Reilly: The night before American soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy, Joseph Reilly and the 101st Airborne Division parachuted behind enemy lines. He and his fellow soldiers helped secure Utah Beach and the first foothold in America’s liberation of Western Europe. Joseph also fought in Operation Market Garden, Battle of the Bulge, and the battle of the Ruhr Pocket. He now lives in San Diego, California.
  • Herman Zeitchik: At age 18, Herman Zeitchik was among the 4th Infantry Division soldiers who landed at Utah Beach early on the morning of June 6, 1944. He helped liberate Paris, hold back the Nazis at the Battle of the Bulge, and free starving prisoners at the Dachau Concentration Camp. Herman is a Knight in the French Legion of Honor. He is married to the love of his life, Janet, and has two daughters, Linda and Carol.
  • Buzz Aldrin: Buzz Aldrin is one of the most famous astronauts in history. He and Neil Armstrong were the first men to set foot on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission. Fifty years ago, Buzz planted the American Flag on the face of the moon. He has written 9 books, is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, and is a tireless advocate for space exploration and discovery.
  • Tony Rankins: After serving in the United States Army in Afghanistan, Tony Rankins suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and became addicted to drugs. He lost his job and his family, served several prison sentences, and ended up living out of his car. A company called “R Investments” helped train Tony in carpentry, painting, brick work, and other construction trades. Today, he works in an Opportunity Zone in Cincinnati, Ohio, and his new job has helped him overcome drug addiction and reunite with his family.
  • Juan Guaidó: Juan Guaidó is the Interim President of Venezuela and leader of the democratically elected Venezuelan National Assembly. After the National Assembly invoked the Venezuelan constitution and declared their nation’s dictator illegitimate, the United States became the first country to recognize Guaidó. Today, the United States leads a coalition of nearly 60 countries in support of the Venezuelan people in their struggle for freedom and democracy.
  • Iain Lanphier: Eight grader Iain Lanphier is the great-grandson of Tuskegee Airman Charles McGee. Iain hopes to write the next chapter in his family’s remarkable story by attending the Air Force Academy and eventually going to space. Last summer, he was the top graduate of the Aerospace Career Education program sponsored by the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals and supported by the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
  • Retired Brigadier General Charles McGee: After earning his wings in 1943, Tuskegee Airman Charles McGee flew a total of 409 aerial fighter combat missions during 30 years of military service. He is a veteran of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. General McGee recently participated in the Super Bowl LIV coin toss and had his stars pinned to his uniform the day of President Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address. General McGee is an American hero who has rendered invaluable service to his country.
  • Janiyah and Stephanie Davis: Janiyah is a fourth grade student from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She loves art and math, but for too long she has been assigned to low-performing schools. Her mom, Stephanie, is a hard working single mother who is hoping for the expansion of school choice to be able to send Janiyah to a school that best serves her needs.
  • Rush Limbaugh: Rush Limbaugh is a legendary radio host with millions of loving fans. His radio show has been on the air for more than three decades and has had an incalculable effect on American politics and government. Limbaugh is a champion of the Constitution, advocate of civic engagement, and a committed patriot. His extraordinary contribution to American life was recognized during President Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address where Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • Ellie and Robin Schneider: Ellie was born at just 21 weeks and six days. She is one of the youngest babies to survive in the United States. With the help of an incredible medical team – and the prayers of her parents and their community -- Ellie kept beating the odds, exceeding milestones, and fighting for life. Today, Ellie is a happy, healthy two-year-old girl who brings endless joy to her mother, Robin, and her entire family.
  • Jody Jones: On December 17, 2018, Jody’s brother, Rocky Jones, was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant in Tulare County, California. The criminal alien who committed this brutal murder had previously been arrested for violent crimes and had been deported twice. The criminal alien was arrested in December 2018 for the sixth time, but because of California’s sanctuary state policy, he was released from jail. A few days later, the criminal alien went on a 24-hour “reign of terror,” injuring several people, robbing a gas station, leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase, and killing 51-year old Rocky, who was known as a kind and gentle soul. Rocky leaves behind a precious daughter and 4 brothers who are still grieving the loss of their loved one.
  • Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz: Deputy Chief Ortiz has helped protect America’s homeland for nearly three decades. Prior to joining U.S. Border Patrol in 1991, Ortiz served in the United States Army. In 2019, he became Chief Patrol Agent of the Del Rio Sector, which made him responsible for all Border Patrol operations in 41 Texas counties—including 210 miles of border between the United States and Mexico. Recently, Ortiz was promoted to Deputy Chief of U.S. Border Patrol, the second in command for more than 20,000 agents and professional staff. His awards include the Superior Civilian Service Medal, among the Department of Defense’s highest civilian honors.
  • Carl and Marsha Mueller: Carl and Marsha Mueller’s daughter, Kayla, was a devoted humanitarian aid worker who was kidnapped by ISIS on her way back from a Doctors without Borders hospital in Aleppo. Kayla was held captive and tortured by the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, before being murdered. On October 26, 2019, President Trump ordered a successful U.S. Special Forces raid that killed Kayla’s captor.
  • Kelli and Gage Hake: Kelli Hake was at home with her one-year-old son, Gage, when she received the terrible news that her that her husband, Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Hake, had been killed serving on his second tour of duty in Iraq. While on patrol, Sergeant Hake’s Bradley fighting vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb supplied by the Iranian terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani. Kelli and Gage directly suffered from Soleimani’s campaign to kill and maim U.S. service members. Last month, President Donald J. Trump ordered the killing of Soleimani as he was once again trying to initiate attacks on American service members.
  • Amy, Elliana, and Rowan Williams: Amy works full-time and volunteers countless hours helping other military families. For the past seven months, she has done it all while her husband, Sergeant First Class Townsend Williams, is in Afghanistan on his fourth deployment in the Middle East. Amy's kids haven't seen their father's face in many months. Amy’s family's sacrifice makes it possible for all of our families to live in safety and in peace)

None
(Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, few guests were present
and none were referenced in the president's address.)


The following 7 files are in this category, out of 7 total.

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Apple, Intel get nods in State of the Union


WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/GETTY IMAGES)

Apple and Intel got nods in President Obama’s State of the Union address, highlighting just one tech issue of many that made it into the Tuesday night speech.

The major tech firms received presidential mentions for their efforts to bring some of their manufacturing back to the United States, efforts the companies had previously announced. Intel does nearly all of its chip manufacturing in the United States and has committed to invest billions in U.S. factories. Late last year, Apple chief executive Tim Cook announced his company’s intention to make some of its Mac computer line in the United States, months after the issue of Apple’s outsourcing got a mention in the second presidential debate.

Apart from good press, tech companies also had a few things to celebrate out of Tuesday’s speech, including a call for immigration policy reform to “attract highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers” — something that high-tech companies have been requesting for years.

In a statement from the Consumer Electronics Association, president Gary Shapiro commended the president for his remarks and said that current policies are “locking out the next generation of brilliant innovators.” Current bills in Congress, such as the Immigration Innovation Act, are aimed at making it easier for doctoral and Master’s degree graduates in science, technology, engineering and math programs to remain in the United States and increase the number of H1-B visas, which are employer-sponsored visas for skilled workers.

Several consumer tech company executives, including Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith who sit on the Technet Executive Council, have called for immigration reform on their own and through the lobbying group TechNet.

As for encouraging a home-grown crop of innovators, Obama also announced an initiative focused on increasing STEM courses to prepare high school graduates for a “high-tech” economy. Obama also spent time discussing the need for development of alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and natural gas.

But the tech issue that got the most play in the speech was cybersecurity and the rhetoric was backed up with an executive order that establishes voluntary standards to bolster the security in computer networks in key industries.

As The Washington Post reported, the order directs the Commerce Department to work with federal agencies and industries such as banking and electric power to come up with standards for sharing cyber-threat information. Obama said that the executive order was not enough, however, to address the problem fully and called on Congress to continue working on cybersecurity legislation.

Obama also made a quick mention of completing negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multinational trade agreement that some Web activists have flagged as having restrictive IP regulations regarding copyright, fair use and other issues. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, for example, has a running petition asking Congress and the White House to be more transparent about these discussions.

Analyst Maira Sutton, a global policy analyst for EFF, said that the negotiations have “completetly shut out public itnerest groups” and questioned Obama’s assertion that the agreement will “level the playing field” in Asia.

“Based upon what we know from leaked drafts of the TPP, U.S. trade delegates continue to push for provisions that would protect copyright and other private content industry interests at the expense of Internet users and innovative new companies in the US and around the world,” she said.

Sign up today to receive #thecircuit, a daily roundup of the latest tech policy news from Washington and how it is shaping business, entertainment and science.


In Republican response, Rubio offers back-to-basics conservative message

Republicans chose Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), a fresh face in their party, to respond to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday.

But if the messenger was new, the message Rubio offered was back-to-basics, a recommitment of the party to traditional conservative notions of economic growth.

He argued that low taxes, limited regulations and smaller government would free the economy from the shackles of big government that he contended Obama offered in his address.

But the senator from Florida focused sharply on how such conservative ideas could boost the middle class and improve people’s lives, part of a new effort by Republicans to more clearly connect their vision with the everyday problems of ordinary Americans.

“Mr. President, I don’t oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich,” Rubio said. “I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors: hardworking, middle-class Americans who don’t need us to come up with a plan to grow the government.”

The new push comes after a campaign year in which Democrats successfully branded the GOP as champions of the wealthy.

Convinced that Obama would retain the unapologetically liberal tone of last month’s inaugural address in the State of the Union speech, Rubio offered no sense of a party humbled by its November losses, instead advancing a strong defense of Republican values.

He called for a balanced-budget amendment to force Washington to reduce spending and accused Obama of an “obsession” with raising taxes rather than tackling growing deficits through spending cuts or economic growth.

Rubio was carefully chosen by House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to serve as a friendlier, hipper and more inclusive fighter for their cause at a time when the party is looking to soften its image.

At 41, the Cuban American first-termer is savvy about social media, is conversant in rap music and pop culture, and has worried publicly about the difficulties of balancing work and fatherhood.

In a State of the Union first, he delivered versions of his party’s response in English and Spanish.

And he offered a particularly personal response, talking of his immigrant upbringing. In calling for changes to curb the growth of Medicare, Rubio invoked the care his father received through the program while dying of cancer and noted that his mother remains enrolled.

“Mr. President, I still live in the same working-class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren’t millionaires. They’re retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare,” he said.

He added: “The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle-class families. It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs.”

The response to the State of the Union offered the possible 2016 presidential contender a moment of national exposure unlike any except his widely well-received speech at last year’s Republican National Convention in Tampa.

It also presented risks. Only responses that are awkward or shaky — notably Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s stilted 2009 speech from the governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge — are widely remembered.

Rather than reaching for a creative or unusual setting, Rubio went low-key, delivering his nearly 15-minute address from Boehner’s conference room at the U.S. Capitol, not far from the House chamber where Obama spoke to a joint session of Congress.

The location was a reminder that though Democrats may hold the White House, a Republican occupies one of Washington’s most powerful offices, presiding over the House of Representatives.

Rubio’s tone was confident as he delivered the remarks. But about halfway through, he appeared to suffer a bout of dry mouth and, in a made-for-Twitter moment, twice wiped his lips and then awkwardly paused, reaching far off camera for a bottle of water.

Several of Rubio’s fellow Republicans in Congress said they found Obama’s tone on Tuesday more bipartisan than in the inaugural address a few weeks ago, suggesting that the president offered them possible bipartisan solutions on tax reform, trade and energy.

But most Republicans rebuffed Obama’s call for legislation to implement universal preschool and a $9-an-hour minimum wage, saying such programs would be overly expensive. “Another recipe for big government,” said Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (Tex.).

“It sounded like a Christmas list to me,” Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) said. “The question is, how do you pay for [preschool] in every state, how do you pay for $9 an hour?”

Rubio used his speech to offer new conservative ideas on education, part of the GOP’s effort to expand the party’s focus beyond debt and deficits — what Jindal dismissively referred to recently as an “obsession with zeroes . ”

The senator called for expanding private choices for primary school children and new financial aid for nontraditional college and graduate school students. He said that additional federal lands should be opened to energy exploration and that Congress should overhaul the tax code, not to raise new revenue — as Obama seeks — but to lower rates.

Rubio has shifted to the party’s forefront in recent weeks because of his central role in a bipartisan group of eight senators working on a proposal to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.

But he mentioned that issue only briefly, calling for a “responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally” — but insisting first on new enforcement and border security.

And he offered a terse response to Obama’s emotional call for new gun-control measures. “We must effectively deal with the rise of violence in our country,” the senator said, declaring all Americans “heartbroken” over the recent Newtown, Conn., school shooting. “But,” he added, “unconstitutionally undermining the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans is not the way to do it.”

In a stark reminder of the deep divisions within a rebuilding Republican Party, Rubio’s official GOP response was followed by a speech by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) sponsored by the Tea Party Express, a conservative political action committee.

It was the third year in a row in which a tea party group has sponsored a State of the Union response.

The tea party response served as a special rebuke because it put Paul, another possible 2016 contender, head to head with Rubio, who ran in 2010 with strong tea party support.

In his speech, Paul took both parties to task for spending too much and called on Congress to allow the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts set to take effect March 1 to go ahead, despite a hit to the Pentagon that has many Republicans worried.

“It is time for a new bipartisan consensus: It is time Democrats admit that not every dollar spent on domestic programs is sacred. And it is time Republicans realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud,” Paul said.

But, like Rubio, he said the Republican Party must be more welcoming to immigrants who come to the United States to work and want to become American citizens.


LIVE UPDATES: 2013 State of the Union Address

Tonight President Obama will gives his annual assessment to the nation of the State of the Union at 9 p.m., followed by a Republican response from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Tea Party response from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. The president has said he will focus on the economy, and there are seven things we're pretty certain he will say.

Refresh here for updates and fact checks throughout the night.

Tune in to ABCNews.com for livestreaming coverage of the 2013 State of the Union Address. ABC State of the Union coverage starts at 8:50 p.m.

All times are in Eastern Standard Time.

Guitarist/gun enthusiast/occasional shirt wearer Ted Nugent milled about Statuary Hall after President Obama's State of the Union address, mobbed by reporters and conducting multiple TV interviews.

Unsurprisingly Nugent didn't like the speech.

"My reaction? I'm not allowed to do that, because I'm supposed to keep my pants on," Nugent said.

Nugent has openly criticized Obama's support for gun control legislation and tonight was no exception.

Wearing a green camoflauge cowboy hat and matching boots, he told ABC News that he does not believe President Obama really fired a shotgun at clay pigeons.

"Can I say 'bull shit?'" he asked, calling the photo of President Obama. "I don't think it was a fake photo. It was a fake photo."

Nugent suggested President Obama's aides guided him in an elaborate pose, culminating in the emanation of smoke from the end of the barrel without a shot being fired.

"If he's shooting skeet, I'm a gay pirate."

ABC's John Parkinson reports:

House Speaker John Boehner reacted to the president's SOTU address, characterizing it as "little more than more of the same 'stimulus' policies that have failed to fix our economy and put Americans back to work" while also questioning the president's position on replacing the sequester.

"The president had an opportunity to offer a solution tonight, and he let it slip by," Boehner, R-Ohio, stated. "We are only weeks away from the devastating consequences of the president's sequester, and he failed to offer the cuts needed to replace it."

Former Republican vice presidential nominee and current Budget chairman Paul Ryan also reacted negatively to the president's address, questioning whether the president fully appreciates the challenge of the country's debt.

"Tonight, he outlined many new programs in detail. But when it came to spending restraint, he was remarkably brief," Ryan, R-Wis., stated. "He overstated his administration's success on this front. And he downplayed the task before us."

Over the last 4 years, our debt grew by $6T, the largest increase of any presidency.Yet @ barackobama refuses to change course. #SOTU

— Paul Ryan (@PRyan) February 13, 2013

(Image credit: Harry Hamburg, File/AP Photo)

After President Obama outlined his vision for immigration reform in his address tonight, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he believes Obama is the single-biggest obstacle to immigration reform happening.

"What he's looking for is a political issue," Cruz told reporters. "His goal is not to get a bill passed but to have an issue to campaign on in 2014 and 2016."

Click the photo below to see the slideshow.

(Image Credit: Charles Dharapak/AP Photo)

While Sen. Marco Rubio undoubtedly was hoping Americans would come away from his State of the Union response talking about the substance of his words, what had Twitter buzzing was his mid-speech grab for a bottle of water.

Leading up to that awkward pause, Rubio was seen licking his lips and wiping his mouth as he talked - a tad distracting for an audience so late in the night.

Following his response in English, Rubio broadcast a pre-taped version in Spanish.

After President Obama outlined his vision for immigration reform in his address tonight, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he believes Obama is the single-biggest obstacle to immigration reform happening.

"What he's looking for is a political issue," Cruz told reporters. "His goal is not to get a bill passed but to have an issue to campaign on in 2014 and 2016."

ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports:

The president called for "all service members" to have access to "equal benefits," including same sex couples in his address tonight.

"We will ensure equal treatment for all service members, and equal benefits for their families - gay and straight," the president said, adding a thank you to his wife and Dr. Jill Biden for "their continued dedication to serving our military families as well as they serve us" which earned a bipartisan standing ovation.

The president's mention of equal benefits for same sex couples in the military comes just days after a woman who fought to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which banned her wife from receiving military benefits to help care for their daughter died.

Charlie Morgan, a chief warrant officer in the New Hampshire Army National Guard died on Sunday after a battle with breast cancer.

She was a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit in 2011 saying DOMA violated her constitutional rights. Under the act the Pentagon is required to ignore same sex marriages, even those that are legal like in New Hampshire or other states where same sex marriage is legal.

The president also mentioned gay rights in his inaugural address and his support of same sex-marriage was history making and one of the biggest headlines our of the speech.

"Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well," Obama said in his address on the Capitol steps after his swearing in.

Twitter confirmed to ABC News that the most popular moment of the night on its social media platform was when President Obama said, "we need to build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class for all who are willing to climb them."

That line came just after the president's call to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 - the first raise since he first took office in 2009.

The second most tweeted moment of the night was his call for a vote on gun control legislation.

If and when immigration reform comes to the floor of the Senate expect Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., to back it.

"I'm really pleased on immigration," Graham told a gaggle of reporters of Obama's address. "I want to help the president."

The last time immigration reform came to the floor of the Senate at the behest of president Bush Graham delivered an impassioned speech urging his conservative colleagues to compromise.

ABC's Michael Conte reports:

Number of times President Obama was interrupted by applause: 74

Number of interruptions by standing ovations: 39

Number of those ovations that appeared to be only or mostly Democrats standing: 24

Bill Galston, senior fellow at Washington think tank Brookings, said the president "broke little new ground" on deficit reform in his address tonight. Here are excerpts from Galston's reaction:

In the face of looming legislative deadlines-the sequester at the end of February, the expiration of the continuing resolution at the end of March, and another encounter with the debt ceiling in late spring, the president urged agreements that would avert these events but offered nothing beyond what he had already put on the table.

While the president did offer an outline of a long-term approach, it is unlikely to satisfy the many Americans who regard the budget deficit as a grave threat to the country's future. Rather than proposing a "grand bargain," as many budget experts and bipartisan commissions have urged, he reiterated his target of $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction over the next decade. While this would be just enough to stabilize the ratio of debt to the Gross Domestic Product during that period, it would do little to address the long-term imbalance between the commitments we have made to programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and the revenues now available to fund them. Well before the end of the decade, his approach would allow the deficit to begin rising again, with no end in sight. Obama appears to have decided that there is no possibility of resolving the larger fiscal issues on terms that he and his party would find acceptable. So he will hand these issues off to the next president, who will no longer enjoy the luxury of delay.

Although the State of the Union was less about progressive principles than was the second inaugural, its tone and substance extended few olive branches to the Republicans. For a while, anyway, Obama is committed to an outside-in strategy: he will take his case to the country to build support for his program and ratchet up pressure on the opposition party to go along.

This represents a high-stakes gamble. If the strategy succeeds, the president will end up with an impressive roster of legislative accomplishments. But if it leaves Republicans unmoved, he will face an unpleasant choice between negotiating with a weakened hand and accepting gridlock.

ABC's Z. Byron Wolf reports:

Nearly a week after his top counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, defended the administration's policy of "targeted killing" at his CIA confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, President Obama made glancing mention of the controversial and constitutionally murky CIA drone program. He said the administration will continue to "take direct action against terrorists." But he added that "we must enlist our values in this fight."

And he suggested he would be more transparent on the program, at least with Congress.

Here is what Obama said tonight:

Today, the organization that attacked us on 9/11 is a shadow of its former self. Different al Qaeda affiliates and extremist groups have emerged - from the Arabian Peninsula to Africa. The threat these groups pose is evolving. But to meet this threat, we don't need to send tens of thousands of our sons and daughters abroad, or occupy other nations. Instead, we will need to help countries like Yemen, Libya, and Somalia provide for their own security, and help allies who take the fight to terrorists, as we have in Mali. And, where necessary, through a range of capabilities, we will continue to take direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans.

As we do, we must enlist our values in the fight. That is why my Administration has worked tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism operations. Throughout, we have kept Congress fully informed of our efforts. I recognize that in our democracy, no one should just take my word that we're doing things the right way. So, in the months ahead, I will continue to engage with Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention, and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world.

In urging lawmakers to bring gun violence legislation to a vote, President Obama referenced Hadiya Pendelton, a young girl who was shot and killed in Chicago less than two weeks after performing as part of Obama's inaugural festivities.

Big hug from Michelle Obama to mom of Hadiya Pendelton as she walks in to House gallery. Very sad story the story of Hadiya Pendelton.

— Daniel Steinberger (@D_Steinberger) February 13, 2013

ABC's Michael Falcone reports that Obama has offered two separate shout-outs in his address to his former GOP rival, Mitt Romney.

  • "In fact, working folks shouldn't have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher. So here's an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on last year: let's tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on."
  • "I'm announcing a non-partisan commission to improve the voting experience in America. And I'm asking two long-time experts in the field, who've recently served as the top attorneys for my campaign and for Governor Romney's campaign, to lead it."

President Obama announced tonight that he will withdraw another 34,000 troops from Afghanistan.

Yesterday, ABC's Jon Karl predicted that announcement and reported a U.S. official had confirmed that the White House discussion centered on leaving fewer than 10,000 troops behind in Afghanistan after 2014 and then phasing them down gradually the next few years.

ABC's Shushannah Walshe and Sarah Parnass report:

President Obama called for an increase of the federal minimum wage in his address tonight from $7.25 an hour to $9.00 an hour by 2015. It's the first time as president Obama has proposed raising the minimum wage, but as a candidate in 2008 he promised to raise it to $9.50 by 2011. The last time it was raised was in 2009 when it increased from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour where it has stayed since.

It was the last step of a three part increase approved by Congress in 2007 and it translates to $15,080 a year for a full time worker. Before 2007, the minimum wage remained at $5.15 per hour for ten years. There have been calls consistently for the minimum wage to be raised and currently there are campaigns in New York, Maryland, Connecticut, New Mexico amongst others to lobby at the state level for an increase in the state minimum wage.

Washington is the only state with a minimum wage of $9 or more. Seven other states and the District of Columbia have a minimum wage of $8 or more. So for most states it would mean at least a $1 increase per hour for all workers at the lowest level of the pay scale.

In his address, President Obama praised Vice President Joe Biden for his role in putting together the original Violence Against Woman Act and urged the House to pass the bill.

That legislation was approved in the Senate earlier today.

Univision's Emily DeRuy reports on why this act - once considered relatively uncontroversial - is by no means guaranteed to pass. Read more from DeRuy here.

ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports:

Obama called for a new program to support state efforts to increase access for all four-year-olds to quality preschool education. The National Institute for Early Education Research's most recent report in 2011 on the State of Preschool said funding for pre-K "decreased by almost $60 million in 2010-2011 when adjusted for inflation, despite the use of $127 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)."

The report said it was the "second year of decline" and "in some states, the declines in 2010-2011 have been compounded by cuts in 2011-2012-and further cuts loom for 2012-2013. This threatens to undo much of the progress some states have made."

The report says these cuts compounded with demand for high-quality pre-K means "the nation is experiencing a crisis in quality."

While 28 percent of 4-year-olds were enrolled in early childhood education programs in 2011, up from 27 percent in 2010 average state spending per child enrolled was $4,151 in 2011, a more than $700 drop from 2002, the report states.

Opponents of universal pre-K see it as just another example of wasteful government spending while the national deficit continues to swell.

ABC's Sarah Parnass reports:

If it feels like you've heard Obama's call for infrastructure jobs before, that's probably because you have.

Tonight, President Obama proposed a program he called "Fix-It-First" "to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country."

"And to make sure taxpayers don't shoulder the whole burden, I'm also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods modern pipelines to withstand a storm modern schools worthy of our children," Obama said. "Let's prove that there is no better place to do business than the United States of America. And let's start right away."

In September of 2011, Obama told a crowd in Detroit, Mich. there were roads and bridges in the U.S. "that need rebuilding."

"We've got private companies with the equipment and the manpower to do the building," Obama said that Labor Day. "We've got more than 1 million unemployed construction workers ready to get dirty right now."

Even then it was a tired refrain.

At that time ABC's Devin Dwyer reported the president first presented a similar plan for jobs in infrastructure in 2010.

Read more on that $50-billion proposal here.

While President Obama discussed his plans for wind energy and slowing climate change, former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin asked his supporters if they had "#OBuyersRemorse?"

Let's "invest" in more "clean energy" because Obama has a lot of campaign bundlers to thank #cronycapitalismonsteroids #sotUGottaBeKiddingMe

- Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) February 13, 2013

Not everyone likes State of the Union addresses. Count newly minted GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., among the less enthused.

"I don't like them when Republicans give them," the former congressman told ABC on his way into the chamber.

Asked how many times he expected to clap tonight, Flake wouldn't say.

"The first time I attended one with President Bush, [former GOP congressman and current Indiana Gov.] Mike Pence and I were sitting next to each other, and [Bush] was talking about No Child Left Behind or something, and he leaned over and said, 'Just cause I'm a-clappin for it doesn't mean I'm a-votin for it,'" Flake recounted.

"Deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan," President Obama said tonight shortly before 9:30 p.m.

In the past few weeks, conservatives have been urging the president to put forward a plan for a balanced budget.

We have a moral obligation to budget responsibly and to tackle this debt crisis. bit.ly/XA5ltw

- Paul Ryan (@RepPaulRyan) January 23, 2013

John Kerry seems to be having a grand old time at the State Department.

"It's great-I'm having a great time," Kerry said of his new job, pausing _very_ briefly on his way into an ante-room outside the House chamber before President Obama's State of the Union address.

Kerry quickly disappeared into the room with his wife.

ABC's Arlette Saenz reports:

Did you notice the new look on VP Joe Biden tonight? The vice president is wearing glasses because he scratched his eye with a contact lens, a White House aide says.

He wore the glasses yesterday at the roundtable on gun safety in Philadelphia. Biden does not wear his glasses at major events very often.

ABC's Ariane de Vogue reports Justice Scalia didn't hold back tonight when asked during a speaking engagement why he hasn't attended a State of the Union address for some 16 years.

"It has turned into a childish spectacle," he said. "I do not want to be there to lend dignity to it."

Scalia said the event "has become a very political event" that is filled with applause lines. He said it's a "rather silly affair".

It is not the first time Scalia has expressed his doubts about the State of the Union.

He added he was unaware when he agreed to speak that tonight's event would conflict with President Obama's speech.

"I didn't set this up just to upstage the president," he joked.

Scalia spoke to an audience at George Washington University in an event sponsored by The Smithsonian Associates. He was interviewed by NPR's Nina Totenberg.

ABC's John Parkinson reports Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer is bringing two guests, pushing the total to 45 guests who are victims or related to victims of gun violence.

Congressman Hoyer invited Patricia Bell and Sabrina Worthington, the mother and sister of Maryland State Trooper Wesley Brown, a young officer who was tragically shot and killed while working an off-duty security detail at a restaurant in Forestville, Md., in 2010.

ABC's Devin Dwyer reports Energy Secretary Steven Chu has been designated to not attend the State of the Union address at the Capitol this evening, per the White House.

He is the "designated survivor" in the event of a catastrophic occurrence tonight. He will watch the speech from an undisclosed location.

Earlier this month Chu announced that he would step down from his cabinet post and return to California.

He then proved that politicians can take a joke, ABC's Zach Wolf reports, when he responded to an Onion parody in which he was portrayed as waking up hung over, next to a solar panel.

ABC's Rick Klein ticks off the five things to look out for during Obama's address tonight.

From gun violence to Obama's bread and butter and from marching orders for members of Congress to a sneak-peek of 2016.

Tim Phillips, president of the Koch Brothers-funded conservative group, Americans For Prosperity, went after Obama this evening for excerpts of his remarks released ahead of the State of the Union address that promised not to increase the deficit.

"Much has changed in the last four years the President has apparently abandoned his original promise of cutting the deficit in half, and is now promising to not raise the deficit. This is hardly reassuring given the past four years of trillion dollar deficits, and certainly doesn't even hint at actually reducing runaway government spending," Phillips said in a statement e-mailed to ABC News. "If we ever hope to get the economy going again, we need serious spending cuts to end these job-killing deficits. Promises to not make the problem worse just aren't going to cut it."

A popular Tea Party tweeter also wasn't buying it.

Obama is expected to say tonight: "Nothing I'm proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime." #sotUGottaBKiddingMe

- Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) February 13, 2013

(Image Credit: Randy Snyder/Getty Images)

ABC Radio's Steve Portnoy reports:

Donning a camouflage cowboy hat and jeans, Nugent comes to the Capitol tonight at the invitation of Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas.

"[Stockman] knew that the State of the Union would be stacked with pawns, with friends of the president, and a lot of props to further the president's anti-American agenda," Nugent told ABC News in Stockman's office Tuesday, explaining he accepted the invitation "to counter the stacked deck."

Nugent said he sympathizes with the victims of gun violence who he'll be joining in the House visitor's gallery, some of whom earlier Tuesday tearfully urged congress to act.

"Our hearts are broken every time there's a victim of violent crime in this country," Nugent said. But, he argues, the overwhelming majority of violent crimes in the US "are committed by violent criminals let out of their cages."

He excoriated the president and other administration officials for suggesting that they have a solution to the country's gun violence problem, accusing them of incompetence.

"Somehow the gun-running attorney general and the Chicago ACORN community organizer come from an area where it's the murder capital. Their dream of a 'gun-free zone' already exists, and there's more murders in those gun-free zones than in any of the gun-infested territories that I hang out in."

Nugent says further measures to curb the sale of certain types of guns, or high capacity magazines, simply won't work.

"It is a lie, it is a scam, it is counterproductive. Gun control is what every murderer loves, because then he can murder without anyone shooting back. How dare you want more Chicagoes when you can have more Wacos?"

Back in June, ABC's Jilian Fama took a look at one of President Obama's favorite phrases: "Do the right thing."

Doing the right thing seems to be hard for everyone, except President Obama. He always seems to know the "right thing to do." Indeed, he uses his presidential remarks to instruct the American people on the right thing to do over and over again.

At the NALEO conference June 22, Obama touted that passing health care legislation was the "right thing to do." He issued a statement claiming "after a century of trying, we finally passed reform that will make health care affordable and available for every American. "Then, as if once weren't enough, he joyously declared three times, "That was the right thing to do. That was the right thing to do. That was the right thing to do."

ABC's Chris Good takes a look at past State of the Union speeches and makes note of whether Obama kept the vows he made to the nation.

1. Cut the Deficit in Half. Obama in 2009: "Yesterday, I held a fiscal summit where I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office."

Did it happen?

No. In 2009, the Office of Management and Budget estimated a deficit of $1.4 trillion. In 2013, it projects a deficit of $900 billion.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., previewed his response to the president's speech hours before Obama was scheduled to take the podium with two excerpts on Facebook.

His first focused on immigration reform:

"We are the party that embraces hard work and ingenuity, therefore we must be the party that embraces the immigrant who wants to come to America for a better future. We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities. We must be the party that says, 'If you want to work, if you want to become an American, we welcome you."

His second attacked his colleagues' spending habits:

"Both parties have been guilty of spending too much, of protecting their sacred cows, of backroom deals in which everyone up here wins, but every taxpayer loses. It is time for a new bipartisan consensus. It is time Democrats admit that not every dollar spent on domestic programs is sacred. And it is time Republicans realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud."

(Image Credit: John Parkinson/ABC News)

ABC's John Parkinson reports at least 40 victims of gun violence plan to attend tonight's speech in Washington. They won't likely be sitting together, but they will be distinguishable by the green and silver ribbons handed out to them by Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., staff. Green and silver are the colors of Newtown High School.

At 5:45 p.m. Parkinson reports there are three more victims of gun violence now expected to attend, bringing the total number to 43.

5:01 p.m. - Tune in to ABCNews.com/live at 9 p.m. for the 2013 State of the Union Address.

And in the meantime, brush up on what to watch for below:

Obama Will Hasten Afghanistan Drawdown - Halve American Troops in One Year -

A faster pace than expected - http://abcn.ws/VdqQTW (Karl and Martinez)

7 Things Obama Always Says at #SOTU - 1. Education: Let's improve it! 2. 'Clean Energy.' 3. Some Kind of Tax Credit. 4. Shrink Our 'Deficit of Trust.' 5. America, and Specific Americans, Are the Best. 6. Investment. 7. China, India, and Germany.

More on that, with citations and explanations from Chris Good - http://abcn.ws/VSE8lU

In contrast to his inaugural address, President Obama's State of the Union speech will focus primarily on jobs and the economy, outlining new initiatives on manufacturing, education, clean energy and infrastructure. http://abcn.ws/XHH1rb

Boehner - Obama Lacks 'The Guts' to Make Tough Choices -

A feisty House Speaker John Boehner (who will sit behind President Obama tonight) said this morning that he doesn't believe President Obama "has the guts" to make the tough choices to address the government's mounting deficit problem. http://abcn.ws/WiwHGI (Jon Karl)

The Audience - Gun Rights Advocates vs. Ted Nugent -

Keep an eye out for gun control advocates wearing green ribbons and, wearing a goatee and maybe a cowboy hat, gun rights advocate Ted Nugent, who will be in attendance - http://bit.ly/XyWRT9

Marco Rubio SOTU Response: Latin Symbol for GOP -

Delivering the GOP response to the president's State of the Union address tonight, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., becomes the face of the Republican Party. http://abcn.ws/12JAt0V (Jim Avila) More on "The Rubio Factor" from Fusion's Jordan Fabian - http://abcn.ws/X5V5tt

Cliff's Notes on the last 4 Republican responders - Bobby Jindal, Bob McDonnell, Mitch Daniels and Paul Ryan - http://abcn.ws/Y77YTm

The Senate Passed the Violence Against Women Act Today -

Will the House follow suit? - From Fusion's Emily DeRuy - A bill aimed at preventing domestic violence might sound reasonably uncontroversial, but House Republicans have voiced their opposition to some of the provisions, including one that would allow American Indian authorities to prosecute non-American Indians in tribal courts. The original 1994 act expired in 2011 and a divided Congress failed to reauthorize it last year. Republicans, reeling from a poor performance with women and minorities during the November election, have been more receptive this time around. The bill would grant more than $650 million over five years to states and local governments to provide things like transitional housing and legal assistance to victims. The hang-up is in the details of the bill. http://abcn.ws/Wj2CXw

The State of the Union is… "…second opportunity for the president to … talk to the 48 or 9 percent of the people that didn't support him." http://abcn.ws/VdUGaP (Tom Cole) "…going to have to focus on public education http://abcn.ws/YcNsRL (Michelle Rhee) "…in a difficult state for working class families…" - http://abcn.ws/XHcvh3 (Keith Ellison) "…still pretty bad." - http://abcn.ws/TKC42w (Paul Krugman) "mixed." http://abcn.ws/XHcvh3 How's the Speech? 'We'll Find Out Tonight,' Obama Says -

Taking a break from speech prep this afternoon, President Obama sounded confident about his State of the Union address but offered reporters little in the way of a preview. http://abcn.ws/VRbAhO (Mary Bruce)

As politicians ponder the state of the union, the union's looking back at the state of politics. And it's none too thrilled. http://abcn.ws/WYGW2Y (Greg Holyk poll)

Obama to Announce 34,000 Troop Afghanistan Drawdown This Year -

President Obama will announce at Tuesday night's State of the Union address that 34,000 troops - more than half of those currently serving in the combat region - will be back from Afghanistan a year from tonight, according to a source familiar with the speech. http://abcn.ws/VdqQTX

Gun Violence Victims Offer Opposing Views on Solutions in Senate Hearing-

Two people who lost family members to gun violence offered a Senate Judiciary subcommittee opposite positions today on the best way to solve the problem, one saying if she'd been able to carry a gun legally she could have stopped the shooter while the other said more restrictions are needed to keep guns out of criminals' hands. http://abcn.ws/VSSsuJ (Arlette Saenz)

Proposed Constitutional Amendment Claims Money Is Not Speech -

Corporations, like people, have a constitutional right to spend money on U.S. elections. That's what the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010. http://abcn.ws/WHaTXb (Jilian Fama)

Changes In the Constitution Experts Would Like to Make -

The Constitution has held the United States government together for more than 200 years with remarkably few changes - there have been only 27 ratified amendments in part because it is such a difficult process. http://abcn.ws/X52BET (Alisa Wiersema)

State Of The Union: Guns, Jobs, #SOTU (The Note): The State of the Union is…

'The State of the Union is…' According to Rep. Tom Cole & Nicolle Wallace -


'They deserve a vote': Obama's gun control remarks in State of the Union [VIDEO]

The most dramatic moment of Barack Obama's fourth State of the Union address came toward the end, when the president pointed to audience members with the most personal stake in gun control laws and called for Congress to act on their behalf.

"They deserve a vote," Obama said, referring to victims of gun violence like former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and Nat and Cleo Pentleton, the parents of slain Chicago teen Hadiya, who was shot just days after she performed in the inauguration.


Executive Order -- Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. Repeated cyber intrusions into critical infrastructure demonstrate the need for improved cybersecurity. The cyber threat to critical infrastructure continues to grow and represents one of the most serious national security challenges we must confront. The national and economic security of the United States depends on the reliable functioning of the Nation's critical infrastructure in the face of such threats. It is the policy of the United States to enhance the security and resilience of the Nation's critical infrastructure and to maintain a cyber environment that encourages efficiency, innovation, and economic prosperity while promoting safety, security, business confidentiality, privacy, and civil liberties. We can achieve these goals through a partnership with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure to improve cybersecurity information sharing and collaboratively develop and implement risk-based standards.

Sec. 2. Critical Infrastructure. As used in this order, the term critical infrastructure means systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.

Sec. 3. Policy Coordination. Policy coordination, guidance, dispute resolution, and periodic in-progress reviews for the functions and programs described and assigned herein shall be provided through the interagency process established in Presidential Policy Directive-1 of February 13, 2009 (Organization of the National Security Council System), or any successor.

Sec. 4. Cybersecurity Information Sharing. (a) It is the policy of the United States Government to increase the volume, timeliness, and quality of cyber threat information shared with U.S. private sector entities so that these entities may better protect and defend themselves against cyber threats. Within 120 days of the date of this order, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security (the "Secretary"), and the Director of National Intelligence shall each issue instructions consistent with their authorities and with the requirements of section 12(c) of this order to ensure the timely production of unclassified reports of cyber threats to the U.S. homeland that identify a specific targeted entity. The instructions shall address the need to protect intelligence and law enforcement sources, methods, operations, and investigations.

(b) The Secretary and the Attorney General, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, shall establish a process that rapidly disseminates the reports produced pursuant to section 4(a) of this order to the targeted entity. Such process shall also, consistent with the need to protect national security information, include the dissemination of classified reports to critical infrastructure entities authorized to receive them. The Secretary and the Attorney General, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, shall establish a system for tracking the production, dissemination, and disposition of these reports.

(c) To assist the owners and operators of critical infrastructure in protecting their systems from unauthorized access, exploitation, or harm, the Secretary, consistent with 6 U.S.C. 143 and in collaboration with the Secretary of Defense, shall, within 120 days of the date of this order, establish procedures to expand the Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program to all critical infrastructure sectors. This voluntary information sharing program will provide classified cyber threat and technical information from the Government to eligible critical infrastructure companies or commercial service providers that offer security services to critical infrastructure.

(d) The Secretary, as the Executive Agent for the Classified National Security Information Program created under Executive Order 13549 of August 18, 2010 (Classified National Security Information Program for State, Local, Tribal, and Private Sector Entities), shall expedite the processing of security clearances to appropriate personnel employed by critical infrastructure owners and operators, prioritizing the critical infrastructure identified in section 9 of this order.

(e) In order to maximize the utility of cyber threat information sharing with the private sector, the Secretary shall expand the use of programs that bring private sector subject-matter experts into Federal service on a temporary basis. These subject matter experts should provide advice regarding the content, structure, and types of information most useful to critical infrastructure owners and operators in reducing and mitigating cyber risks.

Sec. 5. Privacy and Civil Liberties Protections. (a) Agencies shall coordinate their activities under this order with their senior agency officials for privacy and civil liberties and ensure that privacy and civil liberties protections are incorporated into such activities. Such protections shall be based upon the Fair Information Practice Principles and other privacy and civil liberties policies, principles, and frameworks as they apply to each agency's activities.

(b) The Chief Privacy Officer and the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shall assess the privacy and civil liberties risks of the functions and programs undertaken by DHS as called for in this order and shall recommend to the Secretary ways to minimize or mitigate such risks, in a publicly available report, to be released within 1 year of the date of this order. Senior agency privacy and civil liberties officials for other agencies engaged in activities under this order shall conduct assessments of their agency activities and provide those assessments to DHS for consideration and inclusion in the report. The report shall be reviewed on an annual basis and revised as necessary. The report may contain a classified annex if necessary. Assessments shall include evaluation of activities against the Fair Information Practice Principles and other applicable privacy and civil liberties policies, principles, and frameworks. Agencies shall consider the assessments and recommendations of the report in implementing privacy and civil liberties protections for agency activities.

(c) In producing the report required under subsection (b) of this section, the Chief Privacy Officer and the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of DHS shall consult with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and coordinate with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

(d) Information submitted voluntarily in accordance with 6 U.S.C. 133 by private entities under this order shall be protected from disclosure to the fullest extent permitted by law.

Sec. 6. Consultative Process. The Secretary shall establish a consultative process to coordinate improvements to the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure. As part of the consultative process, the Secretary shall engage and consider the advice, on matters set forth in this order, of the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council Sector Coordinating Councils critical infrastructure owners and operators Sector-Specific Agencies other relevant agencies independent regulatory agencies State, local, territorial, and tribal governments universities and outside experts.

Sec. 7. Baseline Framework to Reduce Cyber Risk to Critical Infrastructure. (a) The Secretary of Commerce shall direct the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (the "Director") to lead the development of a framework to reduce cyber risks to critical infrastructure (the "Cybersecurity Framework"). The Cybersecurity Framework shall include a set of standards, methodologies, procedures, and processes that align policy, business, and technological approaches to address cyber risks. The Cybersecurity Framework shall incorporate voluntary consensus standards and industry best practices to the fullest extent possible. The Cybersecurity Framework shall be consistent with voluntary international standards when such international standards will advance the objectives of this order, and shall meet the requirements of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act, as amended (15 U.S.C. 271 et seq.), the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-113), and OMB Circular A-119, as revised.

(b) The Cybersecurity Framework shall provide a prioritized, flexible, repeatable, performance-based, and cost-effective approach, including information security measures and controls, to help owners and operators of critical infrastructure identify, assess, and manage cyber risk. The Cybersecurity Framework shall focus on identifying cross-sector security standards and guidelines applicable to critical infrastructure. The Cybersecurity Framework will also identify areas for improvement that should be addressed through future collaboration with particular sectors and standards-developing organizations. To enable technical innovation and account for organizational differences, the Cybersecurity Framework will provide guidance that is technology neutral and that enables critical infrastructure sectors to benefit from a competitive market for products and services that meet the standards, methodologies, procedures, and processes developed to address cyber risks. The Cybersecurity Framework shall include guidance for measuring the performance of an entity in implementing the Cybersecurity Framework.

(c) The Cybersecurity Framework shall include methodologies to identify and mitigate impacts of the Cybersecurity Framework and associated information security measures or controls on business confidentiality, and to protect individual privacy and civil liberties.

(d) In developing the Cybersecurity Framework, the Director shall engage in an open public review and comment process. The Director shall also consult with the Secretary, the National Security Agency, Sector-Specific Agencies and other interested agencies including OMB, owners and operators of critical infrastructure, and other stakeholders through the consultative process established in section 6 of this order. The Secretary, the Director of National Intelligence, and the heads of other relevant agencies shall provide threat and vulnerability information and technical expertise to inform the development of the Cybersecurity Framework. The Secretary shall provide performance goals for the Cybersecurity Framework informed by work under section 9 of this order.

(e) Within 240 days of the date of this order, the Director shall publish a preliminary version of the Cybersecurity Framework (the "preliminary Framework"). Within 1 year of the date of this order, and after coordination with the Secretary to ensure suitability under section 8 of this order, the Director shall publish a final version of the Cybersecurity Framework (the "final Framework").

(f) Consistent with statutory responsibilities, the Director will ensure the Cybersecurity Framework and related guidance is reviewed and updated as necessary, taking into consideration technological changes, changes in cyber risks, operational feedback from owners and operators of critical infrastructure, experience from the implementation of section 8 of this order, and any other relevant factors.

Sec. 8. Voluntary Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Program. (a) The Secretary, in coordination with Sector-Specific Agencies, shall establish a voluntary program to support the adoption of the Cybersecurity Framework by owners and operators of critical infrastructure and any other interested entities (the "Program").

(b) Sector-Specific Agencies, in consultation with the Secretary and other interested agencies, shall coordinate with the Sector Coordinating Councils to review the Cybersecurity Framework and, if necessary, develop implementation guidance or supplemental materials to address sector-specific risks and operating environments.

(c) Sector-Specific Agencies shall report annually to the President, through the Secretary, on the extent to which owners and operators notified under section 9 of this order are participating in the Program.

(d) The Secretary shall coordinate establishment of a set of incentives designed to promote participation in the Program. Within 120 days of the date of this order, the Secretary and the Secretaries of the Treasury and Commerce each shall make recommendations separately to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and the Assistant to the President for Economic Affairs, that shall include analysis of the benefits and relative effectiveness of such incentives, and whether the incentives would require legislation or can be provided under existing law and authorities to participants in the Program.

(e) Within 120 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Defense and the Administrator of General Services, in consultation with the Secretary and the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, shall make recommendations to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and the Assistant to the President for Economic Affairs, on the feasibility, security benefits, and relative merits of incorporating security standards into acquisition planning and contract administration. The report shall address what steps can be taken to harmonize and make consistent existing procurement requirements related to cybersecurity.

Sec. 9. Identification of Critical Infrastructure at Greatest Risk. (a) Within 150 days of the date of this order, the Secretary shall use a risk-based approach to identify critical infrastructure where a cybersecurity incident could reasonably result in catastrophic regional or national effects on public health or safety, economic security, or national security. In identifying critical infrastructure for this purpose, the Secretary shall use the consultative process established in section 6 of this order and draw upon the expertise of Sector-Specific Agencies. The Secretary shall apply consistent, objective criteria in identifying such critical infrastructure. The Secretary shall not identify any commercial information technology products or consumer information technology services under this section. The Secretary shall review and update the list of identified critical infrastructure under this section on an annual basis, and provide such list to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and the Assistant to the President for Economic Affairs.

(b) Heads of Sector-Specific Agencies and other relevant agencies shall provide the Secretary with information necessary to carry out the responsibilities under this section. The Secretary shall develop a process for other relevant stakeholders to submit information to assist in making the identifications required in subsection (a) of this section.

(c) The Secretary, in coordination with Sector-Specific Agencies, shall confidentially notify owners and operators of critical infrastructure identified under subsection (a) of this section that they have been so identified, and ensure identified owners and operators are provided the basis for the determination. The Secretary shall establish a process through which owners and operators of critical infrastructure may submit relevant information and request reconsideration of identifications under subsection (a) of this section.

Sec. 10. Adoption of Framework. (a) Agencies with responsibility for regulating the security of critical infrastructure shall engage in a consultative process with DHS, OMB, and the National Security Staff to review the preliminary Cybersecurity Framework and determine if current cybersecurity regulatory requirements are sufficient given current and projected risks. In making such determination, these agencies shall consider the identification of critical infrastructure required under section 9 of this order. Within 90 days of the publication of the preliminary Framework, these agencies shall submit a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, the Director of OMB, and the Assistant to the President for Economic Affairs, that states whether or not the agency has clear authority to establish requirements based upon the Cybersecurity Framework to sufficiently address current and projected cyber risks to critical infrastructure, the existing authorities identified, and any additional authority required.

(b) If current regulatory requirements are deemed to be insufficient, within 90 days of publication of the final Framework, agencies identified in subsection (a) of this section shall propose prioritized, risk-based, efficient, and coordinated actions, consistent with Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993 (Regulatory Planning and Review), Executive Order 13563 of January 18, 2011 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review), and Executive Order 13609 of May 1, 2012 (Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation), to mitigate cyber risk.

(c) Within 2 years after publication of the final Framework, consistent with Executive Order 13563 and Executive Order 13610 of May 10, 2012 (Identifying and Reducing Regulatory Burdens), agencies identified in subsection (a) of this section shall, in consultation with owners and operators of critical infrastructure, report to OMB on any critical infrastructure subject to ineffective, conflicting, or excessively burdensome cybersecurity requirements. This report shall describe efforts made by agencies, and make recommendations for further actions, to minimize or eliminate such requirements.

(d) The Secretary shall coordinate the provision of technical assistance to agencies identified in subsection (a) of this section on the development of their cybersecurity workforce and programs.

(e) Independent regulatory agencies with responsibility for regulating the security of critical infrastructure are encouraged to engage in a consultative process with the Secretary, relevant Sector-Specific Agencies, and other affected parties to consider prioritized actions to mitigate cyber risks for critical infrastructure consistent with their authorities.

Sec. 11. Definitions. (a) "Agency" means any authority of the United States that is an "agency" under 44 U.S.C. 3502(1), other than those considered to be independent regulatory agencies, as defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(5).

(b) "Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council" means the council established by DHS under 6 U.S.C. 451 to facilitate effective interaction and coordination of critical infrastructure protection activities among the Federal Government the private sector and State, local, territorial, and tribal governments.

(c) "Fair Information Practice Principles" means the eight principles set forth in Appendix A of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace.

(d) "Independent regulatory agency" has the meaning given the term in 44 U.S.C. 3502(5).

(e) "Sector Coordinating Council" means a private sector coordinating council composed of representatives of owners and operators within a particular sector of critical infrastructure established by the National Infrastructure Protection Plan or any successor.

(f) "Sector-Specific Agency" has the meaning given the term in Presidential Policy Directive-21 of February 12, 2013 (Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience), or any successor.

Sec. 12. General Provisions. (a) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations. Nothing in this order shall be construed to provide an agency with authority for regulating the security of critical infrastructure in addition to or to a greater extent than the authority the agency has under existing law. Nothing in this order shall be construed to alter or limit any authority or responsibility of an agency under existing law.

(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect the functions of the Director of OMB relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(c) All actions taken pursuant to this order shall be consistent with requirements and authorities to protect intelligence and law enforcement sources and methods. Nothing in this order shall be interpreted to supersede measures established under authority of law to protect the security and integrity of specific activities and associations that are in direct support of intelligence and law enforcement operations.

(d) This order shall be implemented consistent with U.S. international obligations.

(e) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


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