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Congress Reacts to State of the Union

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Congress Reacts to State of the Union

Politics

Congress Reacts to State of the Union

Congress Reacts to State of the Union

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NPR's David Welna is at the Capitol with a snapshot of reaction from several members of Congress to Tuesday's State of the Union message by President Bush. Some of his supporters express complaints, while the debate over Iraq has escalated.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel. It has become a predictable post-speech ritual, the president out on the road repeating the ideas and themes he presented in his State of the Union address. Today, President Bush was in Tennessee at the Grand Ole Opry, where he said he knows the country is anxious.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: People are uncertain, in spite of our strong union, because of war, and I understand that. I mean, it is -- you know, my job is as much educator in chief as it is commander in chief. And during times of uncertainty, it's important for me to do what I'm doing today, which is, explain the path to victory.

BLOCK: In this part of the program, we're going to take a closer look at a couple of the issues Mr. Bush addressed in the State of the Union. We'll hear about his teacher training proposals and about new energy technology that's not being widely used. First, some reaction to last night's speech from Capitol Hill. Here's NPR's David Welna.

DAVID WELNA reporting:

President Bush last night called this a nation addicted to oil, but he omitted a demand he made in other State of the Union speeches, opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, to oil drilling. In a Senate floor speech this morning, Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski wondered why.

Senator LISA MURKOWSKI (Republican, Alaska): Well, he may as well have just used the words ANWR. He didn't use them. All the newspaper articles this morning have noted the fact that he didn't use the words.

WELNA: Another miffed Republican was Florida congressman Bill Young. Capitol police ordered his wife, Beverly, to leave the House chamber last night because she wore a shirt saying support our troops defending our freedom.

Representative BILL YOUNG (Republication, Florida): Because she had on a shirt that someone didn't like that said support our troops, she was kicked out of this gallery while the president was speaking, encouraging Americans to support our troops. Shame, shame.

WELNA: Capitol police say they're looking into that incident, as well as their eviction of peace activist Cindy Sheehan because she wore an antiwar T-shirt. Missouri Republican Senator Kit Bond, just back from a trip to Iraq, added some nuance to the president's upbeat assessment of how things are going there.

Senator KIT BOND (Republican, Missouri): Iraq is a dangerous place. The day before we arrived at one base, five of their Marines had been killed. But it is also a place of tremendous transformation. And over the past year, our progress is often crowded out on the evening news.

WELNA: But Pennsylvania House Democrat John Murtha continued decrying a war he once supported.

Representative JOHN MURTHA (Democrat, Pennsylvania): If you listen to the Iraqis, who have had their election now, they're saying get out. Let us run our own country. And I agree with that. And it'll cost us a lot less money. And we'll be able to then pay attention to terrorism itself.

WELNA: Rather than making progress, Murtha said, the U.S. is going backwards in Iraq.

David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.

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