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Message resonates with region’s contingent

Lawmakers applaud calls for strength, sacrifice

Members of Congress of both parties from Idaho and Washington gave President Barack Obama high marks for a speech that called for shared sacrifice and cooperation to lift the nation out of its economic problems.

None was quite ready, though, to name something they’d be willing to give up in Obama’s call to “sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars.”

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said she’d give Obama an A for a speech that was motivational and inspirational at a time when the country needed both. He was right to focus in on health care, education and energy, she added.

“There’s going to be tough decisions when we say, ‘We can’t have it all,’ ” she said.

Murray, who has a senior spot on the Senate Appropriations Committee, wants to see what tough decisions Obama makes in his upcoming budget proposal: “I’m sure there will be parts that I like and parts that I don’t,” she said.

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, also gave Obama “a high score,” saying the speech was articulate and dealt with fiscal policy.

“I think he clearly identified the issues … and approached them in the right spirit,” Crapo said. Whether he’ll agree with Obama’s spending priorities will depend on the details.

“I agree with going through the budget line by line,” he said. But it may also make sense to order an across-the-board cut in all programs so that everyone shares in the sacrifice, he added.

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, agreed: “Everybody is going to have to give something up.”

The freshman senator said he’d give Obama a B-plus for his message: “We are Americans, and we can get through this.” He also agreed with Obama’s call to wind down the country’s involvement in Iraq.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., thought Obama did a good job of asking everyone to contribute and work together, and liked the overall theme that “Americans aren’t quitters.” She agreed with his call to increase renewable energy and jobs in energy technology, and the call for Democrats and Republicans to work together.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., applauded Obama for “laying out an ambitious agenda” in what she called an excellent speech.

She agreed that Americans and their representatives in Congress need to tighten their belts, but she wasn’t yet ready to say what priorities she’d give up. “I wondered what worthy priorities the president was thinking he’d sacrifice when he made that statement,” she said.

Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, who was attending his first speech to a joint session of Congress, summed up the scene in a single word: “Crowded.”

But Minnick said he agreed with Obama that it was time to work together: “These times are too tough and there is too much to be done to linger over the points where we differ.”

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