February 14th, 2014
12:22 PM ET
6 months ago

Obama rallies House Democrats

Washington (CNN) - President Obama visited the House Democratic Issues Conference in Cambridge, Maryland on Friday, delivering what amounted to a quick 10-minute version of his State of the Union Speech, and thanking lawmakers for sticking with him through some tough legislative battles.

Telling the gathering of congressional Democrats that he’s “proud” of them, Obama repeatedly praised the group for their unity on legislative fights with the House Republican majority.

“This caucus has shown time and time again, under the most difficult circumstances, the kind of courage and unity and discipline that has made me very, very proud,” Obama said.

He added later, “When you guys are unified (and) you guys stick together, this country is better off.”

The President took something of a victory lap on his party’s success in securing passage of a clean increase in the nation’s debt limit earlier in the week. He also highlighted Democrats’ successful opposition to dozens of Republican attempts to repeal or weaken the Affordable Care Act.

“We are going to keep on pushing on this to make sure that here in America everybody can enjoy the kind of security and peace of mind that good quality health insurance provides,” Obama said.

“And I just want to say thank you for all of you hanging in there tough on an issue that I think 10 years from now, five years from now, we're going to look and say this was a monumental achievement that could not have happened had it not been for this caucus.”

Pointing to new enrollment numbers released earlier in the week, the President boasted that his administration had “slightly exceeded” its enrollment targets for the month of January, and emphasized that millions of people are now benefiting from the law.

“We're starting to see data already that the uninsured rate is coming down,” Obama said.

Going forward, the President said Democrats need to continue the fight for an increase in the nation’s minimum wage and a comprehensive immigration reform bill as soon as possible, rather than wait until after the midterm elections as House Speaker John Boehner has publicly preferred.

“Everybody here is an elected official and we can all appreciate the maneuverings that take place, particularly in an election year,” Obama said.

“But when it comes to immigration reform, we have to remind ourselves that there are people behind the statistics, that there are lives that are being impacted, that punting and putting things off for another year, another two years, another three years, it hurts people. It hurts our economy. It hurts families.”

After his opening remarks, the press was ushered out so the President could field questions from lawmakers in attendance.

Behind closed doors in a question and answer session with the caucus, Obama discussed a broad range of topics, including minimum wage, unemployment assistance, Obamacare, immigration, Afghanistan, and Syria, according to two Democratic aides in the room.

The aides said on both unemployment and immigration, Obama admitted there was a limit to what he could do with his executive powers.

Obama told House Democrats he was open to their ideas on how to get unemployment benefits legislation through Congress.

"I haven't been shy about making this an issue," he said, according to one of the aides.

That aide also said Obama encouraged Democrats to keep up pressure for comprehensive immigration reform.

Several Democrats and outside groups have raised concerns about the impact of these deportations – specifically on breaking up families. Obama defend his administration's policies saying, "We have actively changed policy to focus on folks with criminal records...relieve burdens on families," according to one of the aides.

The aides said no one raised trade promotion proposal – something Obama said is a priority, but which many progressive Democrats in the House oppose in current form – including Pelosi.

Addressing the same crowd earlier in the day, Vice President Biden took a much more partisan tone.

More than any time in history, middle class Americans now “overwhelmingly” support the Democrats’ policy proposals, the Vice President said. But lawmakers have been blocked from enacting those priorities by unreliable negotiating partners across the aisle.

“There isn't a Republican party, I wish there were,” Biden said. “I wish there was a Republican party. I wish there was one person you could sit across the table from, make a deal, make a compromise and know when you got up from that table, it was done. That's what Nancy (Pelosi) is able to do, that's what the President is able to commit to.”

CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.


Filed under: Democratic Party • Democrats • President Obama
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    "we're going to look and say this was a monumental achievement that could not have happened had it not been for this caucus.”
    ------------------------------------
    You are absolutely right Mr. President. This democrat caucus and us alone. When history looks back on the ACA and it's success, republicans will wonder why their party was in total opposition to an insurance idea that was thier's.

    February 14, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    Let me advise all these Democrats–be united. Listen, stay strong, NOTHING WRONG WITH ACA LAW, OR THAT SO-CALLED OBAMACARE. IT HAS BEEN A NEED OF THE CENTURY IN USA. TELL FLAT OUTRIGHT. WE GAVE LEVERAGE FOR ONE YEAR TO EMPLOYEES NOT TO DENY INSURANCES. BE UNITED, BACK UP THIS PRESIDENT. HE IS DOING EXCELLENT FOR THE NATION–stocks are live proof. God bless!!!!!!

    February 14, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    This caucus has shown time and time again, under the most difficult circumstances, the kind of courage and unity and discipline
    -------------------------------------------------
    Let's see if reverse psychology works on them Mr. President, because God only knows nothing else has...

    February 14, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    "But lawmakers have been blocked from enacting those priorities by unreliable negotiating partners across the aisle."

    Yeah. When Republicans are being threatened in internal memo's issued by their own party members you know what the next scenario is: Rush Limbaugh.

    February 14, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    And I just want to say thank you for all of you hanging in there tough on an issue that I think 10 years from now, five years from now, we're going to look and say this was a monumental achievement that could not have happened had it not been for this caucus.”
    -------------------------------------------------
    We regular folks can see that, why can't these polticos?
    Rally the troops Mr. President.
    Rally the troops!!!!!

    February 14, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. Tampa Tim

    Check out the Mary Landrieu campaign ad in LA. She points out that 300 thousand Louisianans unable to be insured through Medicaid, thanks to Bobby's complete stupidity.

    February 14, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. CryBabies

    Weaken the ACA?. The president is doing with pen what the Reps wanted to do last year through the Congress. Mily "twerks", Obama "tweaks". What a freak show.

    February 14, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  8. Gunderson

    Uh?,
    Remind old Gunderson of saying Statesman say long ago. We better hang together or we all hang separately Too bad Obama already bought Rope.

    February 14, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  9. carlos

    It's time to call out these Republican governors and I'm glad it's being done.

    Next, if we allocated funds to states in proportion to what they pay in taxes, we could talk about who the real "takers" are.

    February 14, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  10. More bad news..

    Biden said:
    "More than any time in history, middle class Americans now “overwhelmingly” support the Democrats’ policy proposals"

    COMPLETE AND UTTER FABRICATION!!! Look at your approval numbers!!
    After the way things have been for the last 5yrs, I have no faith in the current administration or any of their folks – Biden included. 5yrs they've had to make things better, and all they've done is make the U.S. worse off than before.......
    I'm voting Republican all the way.

    February 14, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. Silence DoGood

    Dems are much more unified and goal-directed.
    GOP + Tea Party = GTP, the Grand Theocracy Party. "you will go to the correct church and be the right color or else"

    February 14, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. carlos

    @ more bad news

    Have you checked Republican numbers lately?

    February 14, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. The Real Tom Paine

    Gunderson

    Uh?,
    Remind old Gunderson of saying Statesman say long ago. We better hang together or we all hang separately Too bad Obama already bought Rope.
    **********************
    No need for it. The GOP has found thosuands of ways to kill itself, and plans to use all of them at once.

    February 14, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  14. salty dog

    More, stop already, my sides are starting to hurt, that's funny stuff, whew!

    February 14, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. Dave

    Vote them out in 2014 and 2016. Bunch of idiots voted for the Unaffordable Care Act.

    February 14, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  16. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    More Bad News said: "5yrs they've had to make things better, and all they've done is make the U.S. worse off than before......."
    --------------------------------------
    Are we worse off now than we were on 1/1/2009? Take your gloom and doom bs somewhere else.

    February 14, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. CB FL

    It is not only taking back the house it is so important to get these Governors out of office. The only thing they have done is cut taxes for the rich and education. I know here in FL I will be working very hard for Charlie Crist. The Governor of your state has a direct effect on your daily lives. We can't wait for congress to do anything.

    February 14, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  18. sly

    Thank you President Obama for rallying the troops! These are good times for America: Affordable Health Care has soared past the 10 million mark, the stock market is at an all time record, the deficit pct is at the lowest point in 50 years, down 37% THIS YEAR ALONE!

    No trillion dollar Bush Oil Genocides. No foreign terrorist attacks.

    Thank you President Obama – these are great times to be an American!

    February 14, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    -Dave

    Vote them out in 2014 and 2016. Bunch of idiots voted for the Unaffordable Care Act.
    ****************
    Yes, watching my son get rejected because of a pre-existing condition and having to pay over $1000 a month in meds to help him control his Tourette's was so much better. Defending multi-billion dollar insurance and pharma companies at the expense of the health and lives of others is such a noble, worthy cause.

    February 14, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. CryBabies

    Fools! I've got "Job-Lock".... Time to follow my "passion" Again....Fools!

    February 14, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |