News / USA

    Obama State of the Union to Focus on Economy

    President Barack Obama with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, West Wing Colonnade of the White House, Washington, Feb. 12, 2013.
    President Barack Obama with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, West Wing Colonnade of the White House, Washington, Feb. 12, 2013.
    VOA News
    U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to focus on jobs and the nation's fragile economy in his annual State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.
     
    Senior administration aides say President Obama will urge lawmakers to approve legislation to invest in projects to boost the economy, including infrastructure, research and education. The president also is expected to link the economy with the issue of climate change with a call for increased spending on clean-energy projects.
     
    On Afghanistan, Obama is expected to announce that about half of the U.S. forces currently serving there — roughly 34,000 — will be home within a year. At its peak in the decade-long war, the United States had about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. A full transfer of security control from NATO to the Afghan forces is scheduled for 2014.
     
    Obama also will urge Congress to pass legislation on two issues currently under debate on Capitol Hill: gun control and immigration reform.
     
    On trade, sources close to the administration say the president will announce the start on negotiations on a free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. The 27-nation EU is the United States' largest trading partner.
     
    The New York Times reports Obama will also propose dramatic cuts in the world's nuclear arsenals. The newspaper says the president will build upon an agreement he has reached with the Pentagon to reduce the number of U.S. nuclear weapons from 1,700 to slightly more than 1,000.
     
    After the speech, Florida Senator Marco Rubio will deliver the Republican response.
     
    Under the U.S. Constitution, the president is required "from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."
     
    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    Join us on Twitter during the State of the Union speech at @voa_news where we'll be discussing the speech live as it's broadcast.  After the speech, stay with VOA for a Google Plus Hangout conversation starting at 0405 UTC.

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