Liberal groups to Obama: ‘Clock is ticking’

The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, a liberal public interest group, is calling on the Obama administration to push through a series of consumer and environmental protections in the wake of Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

“The Obama administration has three years left to enact a slate of long-delayed rules on food safety, the environment, worker safety and more, and the clock is ticking," Robert Weissman, co-chairman of the Coalition or Sensible Safeguards, said in a statement following the speech. "The White House needs to remove its self-imposed barriers to action and ensure the agencies get these rules done for the public."

During his address, President Obama indicated he would not be shy about using his executive powers to enact policy changes without Congress.

“I’m eager to work with all of you,” the president told lawmakers Tuesday night. “But America does not stand still — and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

But some liberal groups have complained that Obama is not moving aggressively enough on new regulations. Katherine McFate, another coalition co-chairwoman, called on the president to follow through with Tuesday night's message.

She specially called for new chemical regulations to address the recent spill in West Virginia. 

“We enthusiastically endorse the president’s decision to move executive actions to advance the public interest," she said. "The president should start by ensuring that important new health and safety standards move through the federal system and are operational on the ground. The recent West Virginia water contamination case and the explosion in West, Texas, last year vividly demonstrate the need for better public safeguards. There’s much the executive branch can do to better protect the quality of life in communities all over the country.”

But Republicans are calling for fewer regulations. House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam GravesSam GravesGOP signals infrastructure bill must wait House Republicans work to torpedo Trump’s air traffic control plan White House works to sell House Republicans on Trump’s air traffic control plan MORE (R-Mo.) said he fears the president's plan to use his executive powers will only create more "anti-business" policies.

“The state of our union is not as strong as it could be, as millions are unemployed and many have been discouraged from even looking for work," Graves said in a statement. "America has slowly added jobs for four years, but not at the pace needed to make up for the 8.7 million jobs lost during the Great Recession. To return our union to one of economic power, we must unleash our small businesses from excessive federal regulatory and tax constraints so the private sector can grow, create jobs, and lift wages and opportunities for all.”