President Barack Obama isn't waiting for the State of the Union to outline some of the policy proposals in it, seizing on recent good economic news.
The day after Congress convenes Tuesday, Obama's hitting the road. He is scheduled to travel to Michigan, Arizona and Tennessee over the course of the week, touting progress on the economy and outlining pocketbook issues like the cost of a higher education and home ownership.
"The proposals announced next week will be a mix of executive actions and legislative proposals. The President is eager to get to work, and looks forward to working with the new Congress on policies that will make sure middle class Americans are sharing in the economic recovery," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement. "There are a number of issues we could make progress on, but the President is clear that he will not let this Congress undo important protections gained — particularly in areas of health care, Wall Street reform and the environment." That's an important caveat with Republicans taking control of the Senate with the dawn of the 114 Congress — the terms of new members started at noon Saturday, though business has been delayed until Tuesday. Health care, energy and financial regulatory policy are sure to face an onslaught of legislative opposition, some of which will clear the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome Democratic-led filibusters in the Senate.
Which means Obama will get to make use of his veto power .
But the administration is clearly claiming momentum in the aftermath of Obama's executive action on immigration and the flurry of activity at the end of the 113th Congress, including judicial confirmations . Schultz said the trip to Detroit on Wednesday would highlight the American automobile industry in the aftermath of the end of the federal government's investment that detractors called a bailout.
The State of the Union is scheduled for Jan. 20 , and in many past years, Obama and other presidents would steer clear of unveiling policy proposals from the speech ahead of time. This time, it seems there's an intent to create a contrast between the agendas of the legislative and executive branches, where early agenda items will reprise efforts that faltered with a Democratic-led Senate, such as approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to take up the Keystone legislation for a hearing Wednesday and markup Thursday.
Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., pointed to some of the early plans for the expanded House Republican Conference in Saturday's weekly GOP address, including a bill to exempt some already insured veterans from counting toward limits on employees before requirements kick in under the 2010 health care law.
"In the coming days, the House will also act on legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and to restore the 40-hour workweek for middle class families. From there, more good ideas for jobs and growth will follow. If the president is willing to work with us, we’ll have a real chance to address our nation's most pressing challenges," Davis said.
As the House and Senate are beginning that work, Obama will be at times outside Washington and making use of the bully pulpit, after returning from his holiday vacation in Hawaii.
"With a new Congress returning to DC, the President will act next week to lay out specific new actions and preview new policy proposals that will be included in his State of the Union address to make sure that all Americans benefit from the economic recovery," Schultz said. "The President will begin a three week run up to the State of the Union address starting with travel next week that will highlight the progress we have made in the economy and he will announce policies that he will highlight in the State of the Union address to push us forward - specifically in the areas of helping more responsible Americans own a home, getting kids a college education, and creating new, good paying jobs."
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