WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama this week will test whether he still has the power to keep Washington focused on his own priorities, even as a new Republican-run Congress is eager to take him on.
Fresh off a two-week Hawaii vacation, Obama immediately began preparing for his State of the Union address on Jan 20 – his best chance to set the agenda for 2015 on his own terms. Obama will roll out new executive steps and proposals for Congress this week on home ownership, higher education and manufacturing jobs – a similar menu to the one he has offered in the past.
Republicans have a different plan. In full control of Congress for the first time of Obama’s presidency, they look forward to an all-out offensive against his policies on immigration, foreign policy and the environment.
Just as lawmakers arrive in Washington this week, with the new Congress seating Tuesday, Obama is going out of town. He plans to spend most of the week in Michigan, Arizona and Tennessee showcasing how his own economic policies are fueling the economic recovery.
In Detroit on Wednesday, Obama plans to promote the return of manufacturing jobs and his decision to bail out the auto industry. In Phoenix the next day, Obama is to showcase gains in the housing sector since the real estate crash and unveil new steps to help Americans buy a home, the White House said. And on Friday, Vice President Joe Biden will join Obama in Tennessee to discuss new ways to help more people attend college or get job training.