WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans swiftly and sharply rejected President Barack Obama's vow to act on his own if lawmakers won't help him create jobs and narrow the nation's yawning income gap, insisting he'll accomplish little in a divided government without them.
"The authority he has doesn't add up to much for those without opportunity in this economy," House Speaker John Boehner said after Obama's State of the Union address before a packed House chamber and a prime-time television audience.
"The real answer is for Obama to refocus his priorities and work with us on the things that we can achieve together to create jobs and promote greater opportunity," he added.
Obama's aim to move beyond a pattern of political crises and division is further complicated by the fact that 2014 is a midterm election year, with control of Congress at stake.
Hoping to gain the political initiative, Obama summoned lawmakers to create jobs, overhaul immigration laws, combat climate change and more, and said he would act unilaterally where possible if they won't compromise.
"America does not stand still, and neither will I," the president declared. "So whatever and wherever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."
Vice President Joe Biden underscored that blunt message Wednesday as Obama prepared to take his pitch on the road, starting with visits to suburban Maryland to highlight his call for raising the minimum wage and to Pittsburgh to build support for improved retirement security.
"The president will take action where in fact he thinks it will spur action in the state or in Congress," Biden said on "CBS This Morning. "We're just not going to sit around and wait for the Congress if they choose not to act."