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Obama embarks on first working day of 2nd term

 President Barack Obama arrives on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, for  his ceremonial swearing-in ceremony during...
 President Barack Obama kisses first lady Michelle Obama during their dance at the Commander-in-Chief Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Cent...
 President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dance together at the Commander-in-Chief's Inaugural Ball in Washington, at the Washington Conve...

APTOPIX Inaugural Obama

President Barack Obama arrives on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, for his ceremonial swearing-in ceremony during...

APTOPIX Inaugural Ball Obama

President Barack Obama kisses first lady Michelle Obama during their dance at the Commander-in-Chief Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Cent...

Inaugural Balls Obama

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dance together at the Commander-in-Chief's Inaugural Ball in Washington, at the Washington Conve...

Plenty of fresh challenges lie ahead Tuesday as President Barack Obama and his team begin the first working day of the second term.
Obama will quickly confront three fiscal deadlines that demand cooperation with Congress, including raising the debt ceiling, which the House of Representatives scheduled for a vote Wednesday. The deaths of three Americans in a siege on a natural gas plant in Algeria have renewed fears about the rise of terrorism in North Africa. Obama must soon finalize the next phase of the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. And Senate hearings on his nominees for key Cabinet posts including defense secretary, secretary of state and treasury secretary will start soon.
In his inaugural address Monday, the president also previewed an ambitious progressive agenda, one that will require cooperation from a divided Congress in an era of looming budget cuts.
"We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit," Obama said, speaking to the hundreds of thousands of people watching his speech on the long strip of green known as the National Mall. "But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future."
Before getting down to business, Obama had a few more inaugural obligations to complete Tuesday, including a prayer service at the National Cathedral. It was the third straight day of religious worship for Obama surrounding his second inauguration, including Sunday and Monday at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church and St. John's Episcopal Church, respectively.
The president also planned to celebrate Tuesday night with campaign and White House staff at a glitzy inaugural ball featuring singer Lady Gaga.
Otherwise, Tuesday is expected to be a normal working day at the White House. The president will meet with top aides, and press secretary Jay Carney will brief the press.
Behind the scenes, Obama and his advisers are working on plans to unveil a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration laws, which is expected to be a central topic in Obama's Feb. 12 State of the Union address. The president also will be seeking support from a wary Congress for the far-reaching package of gun control proposals he unveiled last week, including an assault weapons ban and universal background checks for gun purchasers.
Obama also paid special attention to climate change during his inaugural address, an issue he spent little time on during his first term.
"Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms," he said.
Still, it was unclear how much effort Obama would put into climate change legislation this year _ or how much political capital he would have left to spend on the issue after tackling his other priorities.
The looming question over Obama's second four-year term is whether he can find a way to quell his confrontations with a partisan Congress. He invited a bipartisan group of lawmakers to the White House ahead of his inaugural address Monday, including the Republican leaders with whom he has frequently been at odds: House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Speaking to the throngs gathered on the National Mall, Obama implored Washington to find common ground when it can.
"We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics or treat name-calling as reasoned debate," Obama said.
And, seeking to build on the wave of public support that catapulted him to two terms in the White House, the president pressed for the public to get help him "set this country's course." Obama sent an email shortly after his speech asking supporters to send their contact information to Organizing for Action, the outside group formed by several top Obama campaign officials with the goal of supporting his legislative agenda.
Debates with Congress appeared to be far from Obama's mind Monday. A relaxed president soaked in a full day's worth of activities, starting with a morning church service and ending with two swanky balls.
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Associated Press writer Julie Pace contributed.


Updated : 2020-12-03 01:05 GMT+08:00