Obama: Mayors show you don't have to wait for Congress to make things happen

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 23, 2014 

President Obama hosted mayors from across the U.S. at the White House Thursday, saying their efforts in cities prove "you don’t have to wait for the gridlock to clear in Congress in order to make things happen."

Obama, who in recent weeks has signaled he plans increase his efforts to go around Congress, saluted mayors who he said are getting things done. Among those singled out for praise, Fresno's mayor Ashley Swearengin whom he said is spearheading projects to develop the city's downtown, including a high-speed rail station.

"I want to work with Congress whenever and wherever I can, but the one thing I'm emphasizing to all my Cabinet members is we're not going to wait," Obama told the mayors at a reception for the U.S. Conference of Mayors in the East Room at the White House.

"Where Congress is debating things and hasn't been able to pull the trigger on stuff, my administration is going to move forward and we're going to do it in partnership with all of you," Obama said. "I've got a pen and I've got a phone. And that's all I need."

Mayors spent much of the day at the White House meeting with administration officials and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson told reporters after the event that the administration is "committed" to working with mayors.

"We're just feeling like this partnership, the access that we have to President Obama and his administration is second to none," Johnson said. "He knows that he and his administration do not have all the answers, they want to hear from mayors...he knows we're where the rubber hits the road."

Obama repeated his pledge that he wouldn't wait for Congress to act, Johnson said, saying he'd do "what ever is in my power to make things happen."

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said he expected cities -- and federal support for them -- will make an appearance in Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday.

"Cities are an example of how to make things work," Nutter said.

Obama had a little advice for newly-elected mayors, whose ranks include those in Boston and New York.

"To all of you, congratulations -- and make sure you're shoveling the snow," Obama said to laughter. "Just a little piece of advice. It's been cold."

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