In his first State of the Union address since being re-elected, President Barack Obama again urged a deeply divided Congress to come together to help solve the nation’s fiscal problems and strengthen the middle class.
“We have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and we can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is strong,” Obama said in an hour-long address to a joint session of Congress and a television audience second only to the Super Bowl.
The most emotional part of President Obama’s address came when he spoke passionately about gun violence and the proposals he has submitted to address the problem.
“Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress,” he implored. “If you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.”
Several victims of gun violence were in Congress for the speech, including former congresswoman Gabby Giffords and the parents of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed in a park just a mile from the president’s home in Chicago, one week after participating in Inauguration festivities in Washington, D.C. Several lawmakers wore green label ribbons in memory of those killed in Newtown last December.
Pointing to Hadiya’s parents, who were seated next to First Lady Michelle Obama, the president said they deserve a vote.
“Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote. They deserve a vote. They deserve a vote. Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence, they deserve a simple vote. They deserve — they deserve a simple vote.”
Watch the full speech below: