Official Business Behind Him, Obama Looks To 2014 - FOX 35 News Orlando

Official Business Behind Him, Obama Looks To 2014

Posted: Updated:
Honolulu, HI -

(FOX 11 / AP) The last vestiges of 2013's political wrangling officially behind him, President Barack Obama is setting his sights on the coming year, when a number of unfinished tasks will increasingly compete for attention with the 2014 midterm elections.

Vacationing in Hawaii, Obama on Thursday signed into law a bipartisan budget deal softening the blow from scheduled spending cuts and a military bill cracking down on sexual assault. The two bills, passed by Congress with broad bipartisan support, constituted a modest step away from gridlock, and both parties cautiously hoped that spirit of cooperation might linger after New Year's Day.

"This law is proof that both parties can work together. We can put aside our differences and find common ground," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who negotiated the budget deal for Republicans, said in a statement.

Easier said than done.

Already, familiar fault lines are emerging as Republicans and Democrats retrench for the next fiscal fight over raising the debt ceiling, which the Treasury says must be resolved by late February or early March. Despite the White House's insistence that Obama won't negotiate over that issue, Ryan has vowed the GOP will seek concessions before acquiescing.

Whether Obama and Republicans can resolve their differences without another default-threatening showdown may set the stage for other items on the agenda as Washington gears up for the midterm elections in November, when the entire House and one-third of the Senate will be on the ballot.

"There's a fresh year, but it's not as good as being re-elected. Obama is starting from a rough position, and the clock is already short," said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University. "By June or July, most legislators are focused on getting re-elected, and it's very hard to get them to do anything at that point."

High on the agenda for the start of the year is a renewed push on immigration. Bipartisan consensus about the need for action on immigration in the wake of the 2012 presidential election gave way in 2013 to opposition from conservative House Republicans. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has started offering subtle signs he'll put more weight behind the issue despite continued resistance from the tea party.

In late January, Obama will give his fifth State of the Union address, setting his agenda for the final stretch before the midterms. As the end of this year approached, he cast a renewed focus on economic plans aimed at closing the income gap between rich and poor. The White House is pushing Congress to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless that expire this month and to raise the minimum wage.

Obama may also be hoping that as health care coverage provided through government exchanges kicks in Jan. 1, Republicans will find it more difficult to argue that the entire law should be repealed. The calamitous roll-out of the law this year became a major distraction for the White House and has provided fodder to Republican candidates heading into the midterms.

In Obama's suitcase as he left Washington last week was a set of recommendations from an advisory panel he appointed to review the National Security Agency's intelligence collection programs. The White House said Obama would be studying the recommendations during his vacation in Hawaii, and he's expected to announce next month which steps he plans to implement.

On the foreign policy front, Obama is keeping an eye on violence cropping up in South Sudan, Ukraine and the Central African Republic. His administration continues its efforts to strike a long-term nuclear deal with Iran and to forge an elusive peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

And 2014 may provide a final chance for Obama to push to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, an effort that Congress has blocked through restrictions on transferring detainees. In a statement after he signed the defense bill Thursday, Obama praised Congress for removing some of those restrictions in the bill, but he called for further steps to lift constraints, including a ban on transferring detainees to the U.S. for imprisonment, trial or medical emergencies.

"I oppose these provisions, as I have in years past, and will continue to work with the Congress to remove these restrictions," Obama said, adding that some of the remaining restrictions, in some circumstances, "would violate constitutional separation of powers principles."

But as campaigning for House, Senate and governors' mansions kicks into high gear in 2014, Obama may find his efforts to focus attention on his priorities drowned out by the political posturing that reaches a fever pitch in Washington every other year.

"While the politics in Washington can be frustrating and change takes time, that's no excuse for inaction," Obama's senior adviser, Dan Pfeiffer, said in a note to the White House's email list. "There's a lot of unfinished business, but there are also things we can build on."

Regrouping with friends and family in Oahu, Obama has stayed largely out of the public eye since arriving on Air Force One last week. He attended a basketball tournament early in his stay and on Christmas visited with troops stationed in Hawaii, but residents here have otherwise had few opportunities to spot the visiting president.

One such opportunity came Thursday when Obama, shortly after signing the defense and budget bills in private, paid a surprise visit with his wife and daughters to a popular hiking trail in Oahu leading to a 150-foot waterfall. Caught off guard by the bomb-sniffing dogs that showed up at the usually serene locale, a few dozen hikers waited by the trail head, hoping to catch a glimpse of Obama's arrival.

The Obamas plan to remain in Hawaii through Jan. 5.

  • Political NewsMore>>

  • Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's corruption case goes to jury

    Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's corruption case goes to jury

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 6:02 PM EDT2014-09-02 22:02:25 GMT
    The corruption case that could send former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife to federal prison was in the hands Tuesday of jurors who must decide whether the couple sold the influence of the office to a wealthy vitamin executive seeking legitimacy for his company's signature product.
    The corruption case that could send former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife to federal prison was in the hands Tuesday of jurors who must decide whether the couple sold the influence of the office to a wealthy vitamin executive seeking legitimacy for his company's signature product.
  • Ex-Va. Gov says he knows in heart he's innocent

    Ex-Va. Gov says he knows in heart he's innocent

    Friday, August 22 2014 6:33 PM EDT2014-08-22 22:33:08 GMT
    Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says he knows in his heart he's innocent of the federal corruption charges he's facing.
    Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says he knows in his heart he's innocent of the federal corruption charges he's facing.
  • Rolex passed among jurors in ex-Va. gov trial

    Rolex passed among jurors in ex-Va. gov trial

    Thursday, July 31 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-07-31 23:08:18 GMT
    The requests for lavish gifts were frequent. Jonnie Williams — the star witness in a corruption trial against the former Virginia governor and his wife — was being asked for everything from a joy ride in his Ferrari to stock in the company he led.
    The requests for lavish gifts were frequent. Jonnie Williams — the star witness in a corruption trial against the former Virginia governor and his wife — was being asked for everything from a joy ride in his Ferrari to stock in the company he led.
  • PoliticsMore>>

  • Hagel, Dempsey Defend US Plan To Target Islamic Extremists

    Hagel, Dempsey Defend US Plan To Target Islamic Extremists

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 10:34 AM EDT2014-09-16 14:34:56 GMT
    The nation's top military leader told Congress on Tuesday that if President Barack Obama's expanded military campaign to destroy Islamic extremists fails, he would recommend that the United States consider deploying American ground forces to Iraq.
    The nation's top military leader told Congress on Tuesday that if President Barack Obama's expanded military campaign to destroy Islamic extremists fails, he would recommend that the United States consider deploying American ground forces to Iraq.
  • Mideast Complexities Confound US Coalition Effort

    Mideast Complexities Confound US Coalition Effort

    Monday, September 15 2014 10:23 AM EDT2014-09-15 14:23:05 GMT
    The Middle East has confounded outsiders for years, so it is no surprise that another U.S.-led project with a straightforward goal - destroying a marauding organization of extremists - is bumping up against age-old rivalries and a nod-and-a-wink-style political culture.
    The Middle East has confounded outsiders for years, so it is no surprise that another U.S.-led project with a straightforward goal - destroying a marauding organization of extremists - is bumping up against age-old rivalries and a nod-and-a-wink-style political culture.
  • Can President Obama Wage War Without Consent Of Congress?

    Can President Obama Wage War Without Consent Of Congress?

    Friday, September 12 2014 10:38 AM EDT2014-09-12 14:38:11 GMT
    As a U.S. senator from Illinois running for the White House in 2007, Barack Obama sponsored a resolution to prohibit President George W. Bush's administration from taking military action against Iran unless it was explicitly authorized by Congress.
    As a U.S. senator from Illinois running for the White House in 2007, Barack Obama sponsored a resolution to prohibit President George W. Bush's administration from taking military action against Iran unless it was explicitly authorized by Congress.
Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices