- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 19, 2014

President Obama called on Congress Saturday to approve measures that he said would help the middle class, from a job-training initiative to comprehensive immigration reform.

“We have to make sure our economy works for every working American,” Mr. Obama said in his weekly address. “My opportunity agenda does that.”

But Rep. Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican and incoming House majority whip, told Mr. Obama to “put down your pen and phone” used for executive actions and to urge Senate Democrats to stop blocking the GOP’s measures to help the economy. He said Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats should support efforts such as building the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which has been stalled by the administration.

“Democrats running Washington don’t seem to get it,” Mr. Scalise said in the Republicans’ weekly address. “They block bill after bill that would expand energy production, would lower gas prices, and create jobs. There are nearly 300 House-passed bills collecting dust in the Senate today – more than 40 of them specifically focused on creating jobs.”

The administration will release a report next week aimed at reforming federally funded job training programs, and Mr. Obama will visit a community college in Los Angeles where workers are retraining for careers in the health-care sector.

“Every worker deserves to know that if you lose your job, your country will help you train for an even better one,” the president said.

Congress last week approved legislation for Mr. Obama’s signature authorizing $58 billion over six years for federal workforce development programs. The president said lawmakers have taken “some good steps,” but said there is more work to be done.

“We should raise the minimum wage so that no one who works full-time has to live in poverty,” he said. “We should fight for fair pay and paid family leave. We should pass commonsense immigration reform that strengthens our borders and our businesses, and includes a chance for long-time residents to earn their citizenship.”

Mr. Scalise said the administration isn’t cooperating with Republicans to improve the economy.

“Washington Democrats have said no to legislation to rein in the size of government, no to fixing our broken tax code, and no to lower health care costs,” he said.

“The president likes to say he can makes things happen with a pen and a phone,” Mr. Scalise added. “Well, what will it be, Mr. President? Will you help us make real progress, or will you sit by and encourage more gridlock and more politics as usual? It’s your call.”

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