| HOUSTON, April 9
HOUSTON, April 9 President Barack Obama sharply
criticized what he called the least productive U.S. Congress in
modern history on Wednesday in a fund-raising speech that he
used to try to energize Democrats to vote in November
Obama blasted Republicans in the U.S. Senate for blocking a
Democratic-supported bill earlier in the day aimed at addressing
a gap in pay between male and female workers. Republicans argued
that pay discrimination is already illegal.
Obama also cited Republicans' refusal to agree to an
immigration overhaul and an increase in the minimum wage as
examples of what he called obstruction by his political
"This has become the least productive Congress in modern
history, recent memory. And that's by objective measures - just
basic activity," Obama said.
Obama was speaking to 60 contributors at the luxurious
Houston home of trial lawyer John Eddie Williams. The event
raised money for both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign
Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Tickets for the event ranged between $16,200 and $64,800.
He also attended an earlier event benefiting the Democratic
Obama is struggling to get Democratic voters excited about
mid-term elections in November that will set the tone for the
remainder of his presidency.
Usually the party that controls the White House during
mid-term elections loses seats, and Republicans believe they
will be able to build on their majority in the U.S. House of
Representatives and may oust Democrats from control of the
The president's political standing is also ringing alarm
bells. After the disastrous rollout of his signature healthcare
law last October, his job approval rating has fallen below 50
Obama said Republican "obstruction" this year may be a good
political strategy if Democrats do not vote in the mid-terms.
Democrats are active in presidential campaign years, he said,
but "we have this congenital disease, which is in mid-term
elections, we don't vote at the same rates."
"We need you to take these mid-terms as seriously as any
presidential election that you've ever been involved in," said
Obama is spending two days in Texas. On Thursday he will
speak in Austin at the presidential library of Lyndon B. Johnson
to mark the 50th anniversary of the passage of the landmark
Civil Rights Act.
(Editing by Ken Wills)