Obama to Congress: We're not waiting for legislation

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 14, 2014 

President Barack Obama sent a message to Congress Tuesday: He plans to use his power whenever he can to move his agenda forward.

"We are not just going to be waiting for a legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need," Obama said before a Cabinet meeting. "I've got a pen and I’ve got a phone -- and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward."

Obama said he told members of his Cabinet the need to use all the tool available, not just legislation, to advance his mission.

Items on the agenda in the future: adavancing manufacturing, college affordability and hiring the long-term unemployed.

"The message to my Cabinet and that will be amplified in our State of the Union is that we need all hands on deck to build on the recovery that we're already seeing," Obama said. "I am absolutely confident that in 2014, if we're all working in the same direction and not worrying so much about political points but worrying much more about getting the job done, that we can see a lot of improvement this year, and people will look back on 2014 as a year in which we didn't just turn the corner in the aggregate for the economy, but everybody started feeling a little more optimistic about our futures."

Obama once again called 2014 "the year of action" to maximize the pace of the economic recovery.

He said he was "very pleased" the House and Senate agreed to introduce a bill. "I would urge that Congress pass that funding measure as quickly as possible so that all these agencies have some certainty around their budgets," he said.

Obama again urged lawmakers to pass unemployment benefits. "I think we all know that there are a lot of hardworking Americans out there who are desperately looking for a job, and unemployment insurance is not only good for them and necessary for them, but it’s also good for our economy as a whole and will actually accelerate our growth if we go ahead and get that done."

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer reiterated that theme in an email to supporters Tuesday.

"The president will use every tool he can to create new jobs and opportunities for the middle class. He will be looking for areas of bipartisan cooperation, but he won't be waiting on Congress to act. Instead, the president will use his executive authority, both his pen and his phone, to work with anyone to get things done -- whether they be leaders in business, education, Congress, states, or local communities who want to get things done on behalf of the American people."

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