There is an urgency to President Obama’s agenda in his second term. Unlike the first term, a second term president has little precious time to waste before the momentum is lost. Two months after the State of the Union address, the Obama second term agenda is moving at a slow pace. In his State of the Union address, President Obama urged the passage of gun control laws stating we must protect our “most precious resources-our children.” We need new laws to make it harder for criminals to get guns. Nothing will be 100% safe but we must make an effort. He asked that Congress call for a vote. Calling the names of Gabrielle Giffords, the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, a student who was shot and killed within days after appearing in the Inauguration parade, the Newtown families, Aurora, Tucson and all others affected by gun violence-saying they deserve a vote—up or down. Fast forward and now Republicans have threatened to filibuster the gun bills and prevent a vote from occurring. On this one, not every Republican is in agreement.
President Obama now says the gun debate is not about politics. The gun debate is all about politics. Those Republicans who are opposed to gun legislation sit in districts where their constituencies are opposed to most of the gun bills—despite more than 50% of Americans in support of it. And the President while declaring the gun law is not political is giving political speeches for its passage. Even with Democrats having 55 seats in the Senate, with some Democrats from conservative districts, it is not expected that all 55 will vote for gun curbing laws should they reach the floor for a vote. Thursday, April 10 is expected to be the show down on the beginning of the gun control debate. Senator Harry Reid while discussing his own father’s suicide with a gun declared that the legislation should receive a vote and the American people deserve a vote on the gun bill.
Recognizing that women helped to deliver his second term, President Obama in his State of the Union Address urged the passing of the Paycheck Fairness Act saying, “And I ask this Congress to declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts, and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.” The millions of women in this country are waiting on Congress to act. The President can also pass specific executive orders which deal with paycheck fairness in the federal arena. In January, 2013 Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski called on President Obama to prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss salaries. Discussing salaries is one way that women discover that they are not paid equal. Senator Mikulski has requested that President Obama sign an executive order prohibiting contractors from firing employees who discuss their pay or inquire about another employee’s pay. And on Equal Pay Day, members of American Association of University Women (“AAUW”) gathered near the White House and called on President Obama to pass any executive orders which will help in the federal contractor arena.
One area where there may be some progress is in the area of immigration. The Gang of Eight, four Democratic and four Republican Senators, including John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are close to reaching a deal on immigration. Of course, any deal reached would have to go before Congress and Senate. But the fact that it appears that a bi-partisan group has reached any accord on anything bodes well for immigration reform. Even with some agreement with the Gang of Eight, any immigration reform would still face rough waters. The details are not known except it appears that it will include provisions for securing the border and offering a path to citizenship.
In the next few months, it will be critical to realize some gains of the 2nd Obama Administration. If we get too far into 2013, Congress and the Senate will be gearing up for 2014 races. And even less work will get done by Congress–if that’s at all possible.