Congress Gives Mixed Reaction to Obama's State of the Union Speech
U.S. lawmakers have expressed a mix of reactions to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, with a particular focus on his economic policies and the ongoing international negotiations on Iran's nuclear program.
After the speech Tuesday night at the Capitol in Washington, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Mr. Obama's speech a "powerful vision of opportunity and prosperity" for American families, and highlighted his plans to help those in the middle class.
But Republicans in the Senate, who reclaimed a majority this year, questioned how the president would fund those initiatives.
Senator Cory Gardner expressed opposition to raising money through new taxes.
On Iran, Mr. Obama said enacting new sanctions would "all but guarantee" the negotiations would fail, but some members of Congress are pushing for more economic pressure.
Senator Gardner said the current effort has given too many concessions to Iran, while not getting enough in return.
Democratic Representative Eliot Engel also wants more sanctions, which have hurt Iran's economy during the past few years.
Representative David Scott, a Democrat, expressed similar dissatisfaction with the president's counterterror policies.
Others backed Mr. Obama, including Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, who said he "showed his leadership when he talked about America leading a united world in confronting the threat of terrorism."
Four Officials Fired for Shanghai Stampede
China has punished 11 public officials over the New Year's Eve stampede in Shanghai that killed 36 people at an outdoor waterfront area.
State media announced Wednesday that four officials - the Huangpu District party chief, his deputy, the district security chief, and the deputy police chief - were fired Wednesday.
Seven other officials in tourism, public security, and urban management were disciplined.
Investigation results released Wednesday blame the officials for insufficient precautions and for poor site management at the waterfront area, known as "the Bund," which is traditionally crowded on New Year's Eve.
Families of the victims have criticized the local government and emergency officials for being too slow to respond to the crisis. It took place shortly before midnight, as people gathered at the riverfront site in central Shanghai to usher in the new year.
Witnesses say the stampede broke out when people rushed to pick up fake money that had been thrown from a third-story window.
China has seen deadly stampedes before. Thirty-seven people died in 2004 when they were trampled on a bridge during the Lunar New Year holiday.