President Barack Obama on Monday urged the country’s governors to stay involved with federal efforts to combat emerging threats to safety and security in the U.S. During the winter meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington, the president said that terrorism, cybersecurity and the threat of disease require better collaboration between his administration and emergency response officials at the state level.
“These are some areas where there shouldn’t be dispute. We’ve got to keep our country strong,” Obama said, mentioning the December attack by Islamic militants in San Bernardino, California, and threats posed by the Zika virus.
The president also offered his condolences to the victims of this weekend’s deadly shooting in Kalamazoo, Michigan, saying in part, “Another one of our communities was terrorized by gun violence.”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 22, 2016
On cyberthreats, Obama said: “The technology that connects us like never before also allows our adversaries to do us harm ... All of us are still vulnerable.”
The meeting came as the president was expected to choose a replacement for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Feb. 13 at age 79. The president also plans to travel to Cuba next month, when the issue of trade and its impact on jobs and the U.S. economy are expected to come up.
In a separate meeting with an assembly of Democratic governors last Friday, Obama said he would push Republican and Democratic governors to protect voting rights for all Americans. “The job of our democracy is to make it easier, not make it harder, for our citizens to be able to vote,” Obama said, according to the Associated Press. “We need to be modernizing voting to reflect the way that people live today.”
In the president’s home state of Illinois, the Legislature and a Republican governor recently acted to expand early voting and allow voter registration on Election Day, Obama said. He also complimented Democrat-led efforts in Oregon and California to adopt automatic voter registration.