Obama warns to sidestep lawmakers, addresses domestic, foreign - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Obama warns to sidestep lawmakers, addresses domestic, foreign issues

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WASHINGTON -

President Barack Obama has used his fifth State of the Union address to tell lawmakers that he's still willing to work with Congress. But Obama said he'll sidestep obstructionist lawmakers "whenever and wherever" necessary to reduce the wage gap between rich and poor.
 
One executive action he'll take is to increase the minimum wage for some federal contract workers to a minimum of $10.10.
 
The president called on Democrats and Republicans in the House to follow the Senate's lead and approve an overhaul of immigration laws. He called on them to pass legislation this year.
 
He also addressed foreign policy. He said any U.S. troops that remain in Afghanistan after 2014 will only help continue to train Afghan forces and carry out counterterror operations against extremists.
 
Obama also said negotiations to limit Iran's nuclear program will be difficult and may not succeed. But he warned Congress that any new economic sanctions against Tehran while the discussions are ongoing will be vetoed.

Income tax credit

President Barack Obama wants to expand the earned-income tax credit, which helps boost the wages of low-income families through tax refunds.
 
Obama wants Congress to increase the credit for workers without children.
 
White House officials note that some Republicans and conservative economists have called for similar expansion of the tax credit or, as in the case of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, for a new federal wage supplement for certain low-income workers.
 
Republicans see a broader income tax credit as an alternative to increasing the minimum wage. Obama also wants an increase in the minimum wage.
 
The White House says the tax credit encourages work and helps reduce poverty.
 
Obama called for the tax credit expansion Tuesday in his State of the Union address.

Immigration

President Barack Obama says Democrats and Republicans in the House want to overhaul immigration laws. He calls on them to pass legislation this year.
 
In his State of the Union address, Obama says it is time to heed the calls to change immigration laws from business and labor leaders, religious leaders and law enforcement officials.
 
The Senate passed broad legislation last year that enhances border security and provides a path to citizenship for about 11 immigrants in the United States illegally. Among the proposals under consideration by House Republican leaders is one that would give legal status to immigrants in the U.S. illegally but not citizenship.
 
The White House has said Obama wants the legislation to lead to citizenship. But Obama did not make that demand Tuesday night.

Health care

President Barack Obama says he doesn't expect Republicans to agree with his health care law, but he's urging his political opponents to give up their repeated attempts to do away with it.
 
Obama said in his State of the Union address Tuesday night that more than 40 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act were plenty. He told members of Congress, quote, "We all owe it to the American people to say what we're for, not just what we're against."
 
He also used the opportunity in his high-profile speech to ask Americans to encourage those they know without insurance to sign up on government exchanges by the end of March. That's the deadline for Americans to get coverage or face a tax penalty.

Climate

President Barack Obama is proposing new incentives for trucks to run on natural gas and other alternative fuels.
 
In his State of the Union address, Obama is also calling for a new tax credit to spur infrastructure for advanced vehicles that run on cleaner fuels, like hydrogen, natural gas or biofuels.
 
Most of Obama's other proposals on energy and climate change were already announced in a climate change speech last year. Those include new efficiency standards for trucks and environmental standards for drilling on public lands.
 
Obama is also repeating his 2013 call for Congress to repeal tax provisions that benefit the oil industry. He wants Congress to create a trust that would use oil and gas revenues to fund technology investments to shift cars off of oil.

Education

President Barack Obama is promising to improve American education from preschool to college in his State of the Union address.
 
Obama promised to connect 15,000 schools and 20 million students with high-speed broadband in the next two years. It's part of the goal he announced last summer to connect 99 percent of students in kindergarten through 12th grade with upgraded technology. Obama says the initiative will be supported by charitable partnerships with companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon.
 
He also says his administration will award grants to redesign winning high schools to prepare students for today's job market. He also wants colleges to improve access for low-income students and lower costs. And he renewed his call from last year's address for Congress to fund universal preschool.

NSA surveillance

President Barack Obama says U.S. intelligence systems depend on the public's confidence that privacy rights are not being violated either at home or abroad.

Obama only briefly mentioned one of the biggest controversies that has gripped his administration over the past year in his annual State of the Union speech Tuesday.

He repeated his pledge to overhaul U.S. surveillance programs in cooperation with Congress.

Lawmakers are divided over how far to roll back the National Security Agency programs that collect billions of telephone and Internet records from across the U.S. and the rest of the world every day.

The spy programs were revealed last summer by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Syria

President Barack Obama says it was American diplomacy and threat of force that has led to the plan to eliminate Syria's deadly stockpile of chemical weapons.
 
In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, Obama promised anew to support opposition groups that are fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad in that country's three-year civil war.
 
He said the Syrian people deserve a future that is free of dictatorship, terror and fear.
 
The Obama administration threatened to strike Syria's government, but backed down, after an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus that the U.S. said killed more than 1,400 people.
 
The U.N. Security Council in September approved a resolution to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

Iran

President Barack Obama says negotiations to limit Iran's nuclear program will be difficult and may not succeed, but he's warning Congress he will veto new economic sanctions against Tehran while the discussions are ongoing.
 
Obama described the U.S. on Tuesday as cleared-eyed about longstanding mistrust between Iran and six world powers that are working to prevent the Islamic republic from enriching enough uranium to build nuclear weapons.
 
But he used his State of the Union speech to give the U.S. credit for leading the way toward an interim agreement that has all but frozen Iran's nuclear program for the first time in a decade.
 
An estimated $7 billion in international sanctions against Tehran have been lifted in exchange for slowing its nuclear program.
 
Critics in Congress want sanctions to remain.

Afghanistan

President Barack Obama says a small U.S. military force may remain in Afghanistan next year, but he's promising to declare an end to the 12-year war there at the end of 2014.
 
Obama said during his State of the Union speech Tuesday that Afghanistan will take responsibility for its own future after the end of the year.
 
He said any U.S. troops that remain beyond 2014 will only help continue to train Afghan forces and carry out counterterror operations against al-Qaida and other extremists.
 
Obama did not say how many troops might remain in Afghanistan after this year.
 
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has so far refused to sign a security agreement with the U.S. that would allow American troops to remain.

Al-Qaida

President Barack Obama says the U.S. must remain vigilant against al-Qaida as the terror network takes root across the Mideast and North Africa.

The president said during his State of the Union speech Tuesday that America can no longer expect to be safe by pursuing overseas terror networks through war - or even through widespread airstrikes that have been a hallmark of the U.S. fight against extremists.

He said extremism in places like Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Mali will best be defeated with help from foreign allies and through targeted operations and limited use of unmanned drones.

Obama also called on Congress to lift restrictions on transferring al-Qaida and Taliban detainees held at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and finally close the prison.

Olympics

President Barack Obama says the world will see the U.S. commitment to universal dignity when the U.S. takes home gold medals on the Olympic Games.

In his State of the Union address, Obama says the U.S. believes in the equality of every human regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. He says no other country does what the U.S. does. He says the world turns to the U.S. because of the ideals the U.S. stands for and the burdens it bears to advance them.

The issue of equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people has become a prominent issue ahead of the Olympic Games in Sochi because of Russia's new laws banning gay "propaganda" to children. Obama's delegation to the Olympic ceremonies includes prominent gay athletes.

GOP response

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers says Republicans want to empower Americans, not the government, and to close the gap "between where you are and where you want to be."
 
The representative from Washington state delivered the response following President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.
 
She said it's Obama's policies that are making life harder for Americans, and that under those policies "more Americans stopped looking for a job than found one."
 
McMorris Rogers also said Obama's health care overhaul has led to canceled insurance coverage and patients unable to see their regular doctors.
 
She said the GOP believes "in a government that trusts people and doesn't limit where you finish because of where you started."

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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