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Top 10 Things to Watch for During the State of the Union

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Obama is sure to highlight certain issues, such as gun violence and immigration, in his State of the Union.

1. Immigration

Watch the GOPís reaction. We already know President Barack Obama wants a comprehensive package including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. With the GOP establishment looking to make inroads with Hispanic voters, which Republicans stand to clap and which stay seated could prove telling about a billís chances in both chambers.

2. The Sequester

Get ready for Obama to lecture Congress on the automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in just three weeks. Watch Speaker John A. Boehnerís, R-Ohio, face when Obama talks about the need for more ďrevenue.Ē (The speaker will be seated directly behind the president.)

3. Global Warming

Obama surprised many by mentioning this long dormant issue in his inaugural address. So how much further, if at all, will he take it in his State of the Union speech?

4. Recycling

Regurgitated job-creation policy proposals from past State of the Union addresses are likely to make an appearance, given the presidentís poor record over the past few years in getting Congress to enact his agenda.

5. Guns

The audience will include families of victims of gun violence, and the issue is certain to get a shoutout from the president. Given the fierce opposition among some lawmakers to Obamaís gun control agenda, keep an ear out for boos.

6. Infrastructure

Itís a word almost designed to get people to change the channel, but itís a mainstay for State of the Union addresses and is an area where the White House has repeatedly pushed for action and been stymied by Congress. Expect more of the same, especially because government infrastructure spending usually leads to more construction jobs.

7. Nominees and National Security

While domestic issues will likely dominate, the presidentís national security nominees are under fire in the Senate and global hot spots from Iran to Syria continue to threaten U.S. interests.

8. Ethics and Campaign Finance

The president has peppered his past addresses with calls for new ethics overhauls, regulating super PACs and more. Will we get some meat on the bones to the presidentís call in his inaugural address for action on voting changes so people donít have to wait for hours to cast their ballots?

9. Gay Rights

Obamaís inaugural speech cemented the presidentís transformation from opposing to gay marriage a few years ago to a full-throated demand for equal rights. But now heís under pressure from gay rights groups to take administrative steps banning discrimination.

10. His Relationship With Congress

Obamaís cool relations, particularly with the GOP, have been steady fodder for years now, but each State of the Union is part olive branch, part prod. We may get our best opportunity yet to see which one Obama will emphasize in a second term.

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