But the president’s push for new gun controls flamed out in the Senate, where Democrats were unable to corral enough votes even for a background check expansion favored by two-thirds of all Americans.
A proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour hasn’t earned a hearing in the House of Representatives yet, and Democratic plans are unlikely to progress to a vote. Earlier this week, fast food workers in seven cities nationwide went on strike to protest the $7.25 going rate.
The president also made an impassioned call to repeal the sequester — $80 billion in across-the-board cuts to the federal budget. But with a fresh round of budget battles arriving this fall, Republicans insist they want to maintain the same level of austerity.
In one of the more poignant moments of his address, the president pointed to a 102-year-old woman in the audience who waited hours to vote in the 2012 election.
Although Obama has appointed a new commission to examine voter access and poll waiting times, there are few substantive steps the federal panel can take to force the state and local governments that facilitate voting to act.