State of the Union: Obama to focus on executive actions - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

State of the Union: Obama to focus on actions he can take on his own


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House says the people who will benefit from an increased minimum wage for new federal contracts will include janitors and construction workers, as well as military base workers who wash dishes, serve food and do laundry. But officials aren't saying how many people will fall into those categories.

President Barack Obama will announce in tonight's State of the Union address that he's taking executive action to raise that minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. He'll be renewing his call for Congress to pass a minimum wage increase for all Americans.

He will also be announcing a new retirement savings plan is going to be geared toward workers whose employers don't currently offer those plans. It's part of Obama's focus tonight on job training, retirement security and help for the long-term unemployed.

House Speaker John Boehner notes that the increase is limited only to federal contractors, and he says the number of people who will benefit is "somewhere close to zero."

First lady to be joined by auto exec, gay NBA player, bombing survivors

The guests who will be joining Michelle Obama tonight to watch the president deliver his State of the Union address will include the first woman to lead a major automaker, an Illinois woman whose emergency unemployment benefits have run out, and an openly gay former NBA player.

It's become tradition for the first lady's guests to include those whose personal stories can help highlight a particular policy or issue.

Tonight, the first lady will be joined by Mary Barra, who became GM's CEO this month. The company benefited from a federal bailout of the auto industry. Another guest is Misty DeMars of Illinois. The White House says she lost her job because of budget cuts a week after buying a home with her husband in May of last year. She wrote to Obama after her emergency unemployment benefits expired.

Jason Collins last year became the first active male athlete on a major American sports team to come out as openly gay. He played for 12 years in the NBA. Obama has said his announcement marked progress for the gay community.

Also seated with the first lady will be two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing. There will also be an Army Ranger who has met multiple times with the president. And the guests will include a man who was brought to the U.S. illegally as a child.

Also invited is the Atlanta woman who is credited with preventing a shooting at an elementary school by talking the gunman into surrendering.

Lawmakers' guests include Duck Dynasty star, father of slain Navy SEAL

The first lady isn't the only one who gets to invite guests to the State of the Union speech. The visitors' gallery above the House floor tonight will be filled with an eclectic group of guests invited by members of Congress.

They include Willie Robertson, one of the stars of the "Duck Dynasty" show on A&E. He's the guest of Republican congressman Vance McAllister of Louisiana. Robertson is the son of Phil Robertson, who was temporarily suspended from the shot after making anti-gay remarks.

Charles Woods will be there. He's the father of Ty Woods, a Navy SEAL who was killed in the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. He's the guest of Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma.

Republican leaders have urged members to invite people for whom the new health care law is a burden. House Speaker John Boehner's guests are business owners from his Ohio district, including a man who says the new law is limiting his efforts to expand his business.

On the other side of that issue, Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida is hosting a small business owner whose wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. In December, Martin West signed his family up for health insurance under the new law.

Two Democratic lawmakers say they are hosting the mother and sister of Kenneth Bae, an American who's been held in North Korea since 2012.

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