Before the meeting, he took time to give The Cleveland Daily Banner his response to President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address.
The Congressman said he was “disappointed” in the president’s comments about potentially passing legislation regardless of how Congress acts.
“We have co-equal of branches of government for a reason,” DesJarlais said.
In a written statement earlier in the week, DesJarlais commented, “If the president chooses to move into the arena of ignoring the Constitution and the role of Congress, then every available Constitutional remedy to prevent his actions must be considered.”
Chuck Fleischmann, U.S. congressman for Tennessee District 3, shared similar concerns in a statement released earlier in the week.
“President Obama promised to bypass both the Constitution and the American people through use of executive orders, which can only be deemed as a grave abuse of power,” Fleischmann said. “The president called for this to be a year of action. I am hopeful that he and Senate Democrats will finally join House Republicans in taking the ‘actions’ needed to allow the greatness of the American people to shine.”
DesJarlais said during the interview he felt it was a “difficult speech for the president to give” because of a high disapproval rating at the time of the speech.
Lowering taxes for businesses was one proposal in the speech DesJarlais said he could support, but wanted more information.
He also shared his opinion on the president’s mention of raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers.
“(It) bothered me a little bit. He’s wanting to shoulder the burden on private sector taxpayers to give federal workers a raise,” DesJarlais said.
Discussions of raising the federal minimum wage have also been circulating in Washington.
“Having the government step in and make decisions for small businesses can often lead to problems. People may be taking home a bigger paycheck, but the buying power of that paycheck may be reduced, because prices will go up along with wages,” DesJarlais said.
Health Care reform continues to be a much-discussed issue in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Two bills offering alternatives to the president’s plan have been filed this year.
Developing “Pathway to Citizenship” legislation is also being considered by Republicans in the House.
DesJarlais said he felt the discussions would “create quite a bit of controversy.”
He said he appreciated the president placing an emphasis on preparing students for the workforce in technology-based industries.
“I really like the idea of matching the workforce need rather than just everyone going to college,” DesJarlais said.
Others representing Bradley County and the state have also released statements of their comments regarding the president’s speech.
“I would have preferred to hear the president give a real answer to income inequality, and the first real answer is to liberate the free enterprise system from Obama regulations so it can create more good new jobs,” said U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said. “The second real answer is to give parents more freedom to choose a better school for their child, and today I introduced legislation to do just that by allowing $2,100 federal scholarships to follow 11 million low-income children to the schools they attend.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said he does not put much faith in comments about the future made in any State of the Union address.
“What I really pay attention to is what someone does, not what they say. I hope over the course of the next year we’ll have the opportunity as a nation to fully address the fiscal issues that are so important to us [and] the trade issues that are so important to us. We’ve got an opportunity now with a little bit of a reprieve economically to really do the serious bread and butter things that our nation needs to do,” Corker said.