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Becerra Hopes State of the Union Will Focus on Jobs

CAMBRIDGE, Md. — As House Democratic leaders huddle in this Eastern Shore city for an annual issues retreat focusing on jobs and the economy, one urged President Barack Obama to focus on the same topics in his upcoming State of the Union address.

“I suspect he’s going to help lay out the road map for how we continue to press for more jobs in this country and how we continue to move this fiscal house in this country back where it should be,” Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday.

Becerra noted that Democrats will focus heavily over the next three days on employment and their “Make It in America” agenda, which is aimed at creating manufacturing jobs. Members will also hear from strategists on ways to better sell their message to the public.

The California Democrat also suggested that Obama give special mention to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who is recovering after being shot at a constituent event nearly two weeks ago in Tucson, Ariz. Obama paid tribute to Giffords and the other victims of the attack with a speech last week calling for unity and civility, and Becerra called on Obama to strike similar tones when he speaks to the nation Tuesday night.

“I certainly think that if he wants to inspire the public, he’ll mention what’s going on with Gabby. ... That would be a great way for Gabby to see that we’re thinking of her there in the chamber,” Becerra said.

Becerra, a member of the Hispanic Caucus, said Obama needs to map out a plan for overhauling the nation’s immigration system. “The reality is we’ve got to fix something that everyone in this country agrees is broken and doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

Obama will headline the Democratic Caucus’ Friday night dinner in Cambridge. Assistant Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said he hoped Obama would focus his remarks on health care and areas where the party can compromise with Republicans, who on Wednesday won a floor vote on legislation that would repeal the sweeping health care law that was enacted last year. Clyburn noted that scrapping a tax provision in the law is one area where the two parties can agree and that Obama should instruct the party on other areas for improvement. 

“We’re going to revisit this health care bill many, many times before it ends up where it needs to be,” Clyburn told reporters. “And I’m sure the president can lay out a litany of things that we can do with this bill right away in a bipartisan way.”

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