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How the delegation responded to the State of the Union

WASHINGTON - Even before President Obama waded through the crowd of members of Congress to begin his State of the Union address, press releases responding to the speech materialized in email inboxes.

DFL Rep. Betty McCollum's response was sent at 8:48 p.m., Washington-time, 12 minutes before the speech was scheduled to begin. Fellow Democrat, Rep. Keith Ellison's response arrived midway through the speech at 9:42 p.m.

In these polarized times, it wasn't hard to predict what would be in the members' responses. Democrats praised the speech while Republicans panned it.

Here are the responses we've received from members of the delegation so far:

DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar

“Tonight the President highlighted the critical need to strengthen the middle class by creating jobs, providing training and education, and sustaining families and workers to help them get ahead. With the economy improving, we are no longer governing from crisis – we are governing from opportunity, and we have a chance to bring both parties together to boost our economy and make progress for middle class families.

“I think it was important that the President focused on increasing access to college. I was proud to be joined at tonight’s address by Peggy Kennedy, the President of M State, which has developed innovative partnerships to help train our workers with the skills that local industries need. To keep moving our economy forward, we need to continue this work on a national level and take action to prepare our students and workers for the jobs of tomorrow that our businesses are creating today.

“The American people are expecting Congress to end the gridlock and get back to the business of governing. I truly believe we can make important progress in the year ahead if both parties focus on doing the right thing and delivering results for the people we represent.”

DFL Sen. Al Franken

“I was glad to see that the President put such a focus on building a strong middle class. Our economy always does better when we build it from the middle out. He talked a lot about making higher education more affordable and preparing people for 21st century jobs, which have both been top priorities of mine.

“My guest was Joelle Stangler, the University of Minnesota Student Body President. I met her during a series of college affordability roundtables I held around Minnesota. Like so many other students, Joelle will be graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. This is a fundamental problem for our economy. Young people in Minnesota and across the country are delaying big life decisions like opening a business, buying a car, starting a family, and purchasing a home. That’s why I’ve been pressing to address college affordability with efforts like my legislation to let more than 550,000 borrowers in Minnesota alone refinance their student debt at lower interest rates.”

2nd District Republican Rep. John Kline

“Bigger and bloated government isn’t the solution to the problems facing our nation. Instead of making promises the American people can’t afford, the President has a responsibility to meet our existing commitments. Rather than roll out a new $320 billion tax hike that will hit working families, the President should join us in creating a simpler, cleaner tax code that would help spur job creation and create an environment that helps families, not hurts them.

“We need to put Americans ahead of Washington, and that starts in our schools. Over the coming weeks, we will be examining K-12 education law in Congress and I am once again leading the charge to replace No Child Left Behind and restore local control in our classrooms. I invite the President to put principle ahead of politics and work with us to tear down barriers to progress and grant states and districts more freedom to think bigger, innovate, and take the steps necessary to put more children on the right path to a brighter future.”

3rd District Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen

“I agree with the President that this is an opportune time to turn the page and work together to find solutions to America’s biggest challenges. Congress will remain focused on building a healthier economy that results in more jobs and bigger paychecks for hardworking families, and I urge the President to join us in this effort. From an ambitious trade agenda to a fairer, flatter tax code, we have an opportunity to find common ground that will provide real results for millions of Americans looking for financial security.”

4th District DFL Rep. Betty McCollum

“Tonight, President Obama will make very clear that his priority is putting the middle class first.  Building a strong foundation for the middle class must be a priority for this Congress as well.  I will continue my work to advocate for policies that protect middle-class families in Minnesota and across the country. In past years, I have co-sponsored legislation to enact many of the policies the President has said he will address tonight. The President will give a boost to that work by endorsing investments in infrastructure, middle-class tax cuts, and greater access to higher education in order to support and strengthen middle class families and workers.

"While these proposals may not be what Congressional Republicans want to hear, I know it is what the American people want to hear.  Overwhelmingly, families in Minnesota and across our nation support increasing access to higher education, cutting taxes for middle-class families, and granting paid sick and family leave to workers.

"It is my hope that Congress – both Democrats and Republicans - will work to build an economy focused on the middle class rather than settling into two more years of obstruction.”

5th District DFL Rep. Keith Ellison

President Obama laid out a robust agenda tonight to make our economy work for everyone. The president’s proposals to create opportunity for hard-working Americans are encouraging steps towards making 2015 the last year the term ‘low-wage worker’ is used in the wealthiest nation in the world.

“Working Americans are better off today than they were during President Obama’s first State of the Union, and much of what he outlined tonight will continue that record of success. We applaud the president’s plan to raise the capital gains tax to support investments in working families; we hope that he will stand strong on comprehensive tax reform that raises revenue to reverse our upside-down tax policy. His call for family and sick leave will go a long way to making life easier for working families. The president’s proposal to cut methane emissions and his continued push for a strong carbon rule are important efforts to stop a changing climate.

“Too many Americans are struggling to afford basic necessities and find good-paying jobs. Congress must act to end harmful budget cuts, expand Social Security benefits, increase access to affordable higher education, and put Americans back to work by rebuilding our roads, schools and bridges. But putting working families first also means we cannot enter into trade deals that allow corporations to ship jobs overseas. The Congressional Progressive Caucus will not support a trade deal that increases trade deficits and undermines the security of the middle class.

“The president showed strong leadership in 2014 and tonight he laid out a concrete path towards a stronger and more inclusive economy in 2015.  We support his executive action in the face of Republican intransigence, and look forward to working with his administration to continue expanding our middle class.”

6th District Republican Rep. Tom Emmer

“It’s encouraging to see that the President and the new Congress share many of the same goals. We all want to see affordable education, inexpensive and accessible healthcare, and a robust middle class. How we reach those goals is another matter.

“The Republican majorities were not elected to fall in step with President Obama’s agenda—the American people are demanding change. The President needs to learn to work with, not against, Congress to find solutions. It’s been only two weeks since the 114th Congress was sworn in, and we’ve hit the ground running by passing solid, bipartisan legislation. Now the President needs to act.

“For six years, we’ve heard President Obama tout big ideas and even bigger promises, and tonight was no different. Despite the annual list of promises, most remain unfulfilled. The programs and policies from this administration have hurt the middle class he claims to defend, taxed the families he claims are safe, and stifled the growth he claims to have created.

“The end result is bigger government and higher costs, forcing the middle class to pick up the tab for the President’s lofty goals.

“Despite our differences, it was an honor to hear from the President this evening. If he’s ready to get to work on the change that Americans demanded last November, Congress will be here waiting.”

1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz

“Tonight, the President laid out a bold, bipartisan vision to continue working to move our country forward. A vision to expand opportunities for education that will help lift low-income families out of poverty and into the middle class; a vision to reform the tax code to help parents make ends meet and pay for things like daycare and diapers; a vision to create a 21st century economy with homegrown-energy jobs and an infrastructure to match. I don’t agree with everything the President said tonight, but Republicans and Democrats should work together towards these common sense goals and help more Americans achieve their own American Dream. We’ve come a long ways since the dark days of Great Recession. Let’s keep moving forward.”

8th District DFL Rep. Rick Nolan

Nolan ditched the traditional post-State of the Union press release in favor of a video:

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