News / USA

    Obama Faces Political Challenges Back in Washington

    President Barack Obama returns to Washington on Tuesday after an extended vacation with his family in Hawaii. The president begins the second phase of his presidency, one he has said will focus on the economy and jobs, facing opposition Republicans intent on undoing one of his major legislative victories, as well as foreign policy challenges.

    The rest and relaxation that Mr. Obama was able to enjoy in Hawaii will quickly be replaced by a return to the partisan atmosphere in Washington, as he confronts a changed balance of power with a new Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

    A new 112th session of Congress gets under way Wednesday.  Whatever momentum Mr. Obama obtained from legislative compromises with Republicans a few weeks ago will be tested as he works to prevent his historic health care reforms being taken apart.

    House Republicans have pledged to begin debating as early as this week a measure proposing to repeal health care reform, with a possible vote by the middle of next week. Democrats have vowed to fight to preserve key provisions.

    Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Congressman Fred Upton, incoming Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, suggested that a vote margin could be sufficient to override a presidential veto. "I don't think we are going to be that far off from having the votes to actually overturn a veto," he said.

    But political analysts say even if a health care repeal measure passes in the Republican-controlled House, it will be largely symbolic.  Legislation would almost certainly die in the Senate where Democrats and Independents will still hold a 53 to 47 majority.

    White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said again on Monday that Republicans will take political risks if they press to overturn popular aspects of the Obama health care reform, such as expanded coverage for children and for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

    President Obama also faces other challenges from House Republicans, led by the incoming House Speaker John Boehner, who have vowed to cut what they call wasteful government spending.

    California Republican Representative Darrell Issa, who will take over chairmanship of a key investigatory panel, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, promises probes on a range of issues involving spending and performance.

    President Obama has said he is not against eliminating government programs that are not working, but would strongly oppose cuts to investment in education and other areas he calls critical to future economic growth.

    In a news conference last month before leaving for vacation, President Obama said he was not "naive" to think there won't be tough fights ahead, but said he hoped for more cooperation from Republicans. "We have shown, in the wake of the November elections, that we have the capacity not only to make progress, but to make progress together," he said.

    Mr. Obama said he knows there will be battles over spending priorities, and the difficult challenges of bringing down the $1.3-trillion government deficit, and nearly $14-trillion national debt.  Americans, he added, will be better off from a sustained spirit of cooperation, regardless of political positioning for the 2012 presidential election.

    It remains to be seen how the president and Republicans will handle recommendations of a presidential commission on the debt and deficit.  In a response posted on the social media website Twitter on Monday, White House Press Secretary Gibbs said failure to work together to get the U.S. fiscal house in order would "mortgage" the country's economic future.

    The president begins the second half of his term encouraged by U.S. stock market gains, but still frustrated by high unemployment which still hovers around 9.8 percent.   Key public opinion polls just before his return to Washington show his job approval rating hovering at or below 50 percent.

    In coming days and weeks, there is likely to be news about White House staff changes, among them the formal announcement of a replacement for Larry Summers, the outgoing head of the president's economic council.

    Mr. Obama will also be maintaining his focus on key foreign policy issues.  In addition to the war in Afghanistan, the White House is closely watching the upcoming January 9th referendum in southern Sudan.  

    The president is also hoping that Israel and Palestinians can move past roadblocks and disagreements from last year to move Mideast peace efforts forward.  A senior aide, Dennis Ross, is making another trip to the the region this week.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora