WASHINGTON— President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address is the highlight of what will be a busy week in U.S. politics.
The president is expected to provide additional details on his second-term agenda when he addresses a joint session of a politically-divided Congress. That agenda includes U.S. immigration reform - a cause embraced by Senator Marco Rubio, who will deliver the Republican response to Obama’s speech.
“The majority of Americans believe that we need to have a legal immigration system that works. And they recognize that what we have now is not a 21st century legal immigration system," said Rubio.
Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will examine a bipartisan plan to strengthen U.S. border enforcement, while providing an eventual path to citizenship for 11-million undocumented immigrants in the country.
Testifying at the hearing will be Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who has long spoken out on the issue. “At some point we are going to have to deal with comprehensive immigration reform," she said.
President Obama will likely highlight his administration’s push for gun control when he travels to Asheville, North Carolina Wednesday. Asheville has been a hub of activism on firearms since the December mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
Some Asheville residents released balloons in memory of the victims of gun violence while others held a free raffle for semi-automatic rifles to demonstrate their opposition to gun control.
The still-struggling U.S. economy will be a major theme of the president’s visit Thursday to the southern U.S. state of Georgia. Unemployed Atlanta resident Rod Mack wants to see action to boost jobs.
“People do not really want to be unemployed, they want a job. They are not interested in receiving unemployment [benefits] even though they are entitled to them," he said.
The coming week could also see Senate votes on two high-level Obama Cabinet picks: former Republican senator Chuck Hagel for defense secretary and John Brennan for CIA director.