U.S. Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10) released this statement in response to President Obama's State of the Union address:
"Tonight, President Obama offered concrete steps to confront some of the biggest challenges we face as a country, including spurring small-business growth and rebuilding our middle class.
"The President touched on two keys to securing our future prosperity: manufacturing and small business. American manufacturing has been a bright spot in our recovery, but because of a shortage of skilled workers its gains are at risk, which is why the first bill I introduced in Congress was aimed at bridging the skills gap.
"The other key to our continued recovery are small businesses, which have driven expansion for years. Congress and the President must work together to give them the confidence to invest in new technology and new people.
"In his address, the President also touched on the importance of reducing the gun violence we see too often across the country.
"I had the honor of being able to invite Cleopatra Cowley, mother of Hadiya Pendleton, to the State of the Union and was so pleased that she was able to sit alongside the First Lady during the President's address.
"Cleopatra knows more than any of us the toll this violence is taking. Hers is a powerful new voice joining the growing chorus calling for action. We have a responsibility to Hadiya, and to the memory of all the victims of senseless gun violence, to do whatever we can to reduce these tragedies.
"We must act now to pass new laws to expand background checks to all gun sales, make gun trafficking a federal crime and limit access to high-capacity magazines and military-style assault weapons."
Last week, after meeting with local businesses that expressed difficulty finding skilled workers to perform jobs that are available today, Schneider introduced the AMERICA Works Act, which encourages manufacturers and educators to come together and prioritize training for high-demand skills in order to issue nationally-portable, industry-recognized credentials for students and workers.
And the previous week, Schneider hosted a gun violence prevention roundtable with local representatives from communities, law enforcement, mental health professionals, gun owners and those who have been touched by gun violence--all of whom called for sensible new gun laws.