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After State of the Union, Members Mixed: Roll Call Gets Reaction from Statuary Hall (Video)

Media and members of Congress gather in Statuary Hall after the State of the Union. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Media and members of Congress gather in Statuary Hall after the State of the Union. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Members of the House who flooded Statuary Hall Tuesday night after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address kept on message, an illustration of an unshifting partisan divide.  

During Roll Call’s first-ever video livestream following a presidential address, Editor-in-Chief Christina Bellantoni interviewed six lawmakers to gauge areas of compromise they see with the president. Democrats heaped praise on Obama; Republicans weren’t interested in playing along.  

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said he liked the president’s address because it lauded accomplishments over the last few years and told Americans to “look: don’t be depressed, don’t be down.” If the question was, Hoyer said, “is America better off than it was five years ago,” the answer was, according to Hoyer, “absolutely yes.”  

But, Hoyer said he was encouraged the president acknowledged that “we need to do more,” and because the president said, according to Hoyer, that he was not going to “sit on the sidelines” if Congress wouldn’t work with him.  

As for the effect of the speech, Hoyer conceded that State of the Union addresses rarely change lawmakers’ minds. But, he said, the true aim — “in a democracy” — was to change the public’s mind.  

(Hoyer also waded into some presidential politics. “I think Martin O’Malley would be an excellent president,” Hoyer said of the Maryland governor. “Hillary Clinton is certainly the odds on favorite of most of the Democrats if she runs. I don’t accept it as a given that she’ll run.”)

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