Obama blasts Congress for not doing enough
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said the economy is getting stronger and the ‘‘engines are revving a bit louder,” but Congress has blocked steps that would maintain that momentum or even accelerate the recovery.
Obama praised the July hiring and advances by the US economy, citing new data showing that employers added 209,000 jobs last month — the sixth straight month of job growth above 200,000. The unemployment rate ticked up in July to 6.2 percent from 6.1 percent as more Americans started looking for work.
“Thanks to decisions we’ve made, and the grit and resilience of the American people, we’ve come back from the recession,” Obama said.
Obama has been pushing legislation to raise the minimum wage and to broadly increase spending on infrastructure projects.
“After all we’ve had to overcome, our Congress should not stand in the way of our country’s success,” he said.
The president also knocked House Republicans on the border crisis, saying they were trying to pass the most extreme and unworkable version of an immigration bill even though they know the legislation isn’t going anywhere.
“While they’re out on vacation, I’m going to have to make some tough choices,” the president said.
Republicans are pushing legislation that could clear the way for eventual deportation of more than 500,000 immigrants brought here illegally as kids and address the surge of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Obama said Republicans know that legislation won’t succeed in the Senate, and that Republicans aren’t even trying to solve the problem. The president said will have to act alone to address the crisis because the government is running out of money to deal with it.
In addressing the crisis in Gaza, the president called for the unconditional and immediate release of an Israeli soldier who was apparently captured in a clash with Hamas militants.
Obama said it will be difficult to put back together the cease-fire between Hamas and Israel that collapsed Friday, but the U.S. will continue working toward a cease-fire. He said Israel committed to the cease-fire, but the cease-fire was violated.
“It’s hardbreaking to see what is happening” in Gaza, Obama said. The president said that he wants to see everything possible done to ensure Palestinian civilians aren’t killed.
Obama said Israel must be able to defend itself, but that irresponsible actions by Hamas have put civilians in danger.
The truce was brokered by the U.S. and U.N. but collapsed less than two hours after it began.
Ahead of a US-Africa summit scheduled for next week, the president said the United States is taking precautions in the wake of the Ebola outbreak.
Obama said the federal Centers for Disease Control is working with international health organizations to provide assistance to the affected countries. Administration officials said the leaders of Liberia and Sierra Leone had canceled their trip to Washington for the gathering of African leaders.
U.S. health officials on Thursday warned Americans not to travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the Ebola virus has killed more than 700 people this year. The current outbreak is the largest since the disease first emerged in Africa nearly 40 years ago.