GO
Loading...

Obama faces a challenging post-vacation agenda

Getty Images

President Obama faces a full agenda when he returns from vacation this weekend, one that includes budget battles and health-care fights — and that was before Egypt descended into near-chaos this week.

Pressuring Egypt's military government into holding new elections is the latest addition to a crowded fall political calendar that could make or break Obama's second term.

The president is scheduled to return Sunday evening from his week-long vacation at Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

In the days and months ahead, Obama will seek to put in place key parts of his health care law, pursue a landmark immigration bill, and — perhaps most important in the short run — avoid a government shutdown and another crisis over the debt ceiling.

(Read more: Obama's mortgage plan under fire from left and right)

The president's to-do list also includes pushing a jobs and middle-class legislative package and defending surveillance programs conducted by the National Security Agency.

At a pre-vacation news conference, Obama said he didn't expect congressional Republicans to back a government shutdown "at a time when the recovery is getting some traction" and jobs are starting to come back.

"I have confidence that common sense, in the end, will prevail," Obama said.

More from USA Today:
Militants kill 25 policemen execution-style
Lindsay Lohan to Oprah: Yes, I'm an addict
'Butler' serves up $25 million at weekend box office

He added: "We'll see what happens."

Congressional Republicans said they don't want a government shutdown either, but that Obama needs to support bigger spending cuts in a new budget plan.

"Our good friends on the other side of the aisle have been spending the entire year trying to get us to walk away from spending reductions that we committed to on a bipartisan basis just a couple of years ago," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Obama, meanwhile, wants to end the automatic, across-the-board cuts known as sequestration.

The dispute hits a major deadline on Sept. 30. when the current fiscal year ends, as does the temporary spending plan that is now funding the government. Without at least a new continuing resolution, the government could shut down on Oct. 1.

Moreover, some conservative Republicans are advocating a shutdown if Congress does not end funding for Obama's new landmark health care law, another major item on the president's fall plate.

In October, the administration will begin attempts to sign up uninsured Americans for new health care marketplaces coming on line. In addition, at some point this fall, Congress will have to raise the current debt ceiling, which is around $16.7 trillion.

(Read more: Obamacondemns Egyptian violence, cancels joint exercise)

Obama has said, repeatedly, he will not negotiate to raise the debt ceiling, noting that it enables the government to pay bills already rung up.

Some congressional Republicans say the debt ceiling issue can be used to leverage more budget cuts from the administration. Two years ago, a debt ceiling standoff led to a near-default and a downgrade in the nation's credit rating.

On Sunday, though, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., spoke out against a shutdown. "I don't think shutting down the government is a good idea, but I do think that we were elected, conservatives were elected, to try to stop this overreach, this government takeover of health care," Paul told Fox News Sunday.

The upcoming fall political season will see a renewed Obama effort to secure another major piece of legislation, an immigration bill. As he has in recent months, the president is planning to pressure House Republicans to sign off on the immigration bill approved by the Senate earlier this year.

Many House Republicans say a key a provision of that Senate bill — a pathway to citizenship for people already in the United States illegally — amounts to amnesty for lawbreakers.

Obama is likely to cite some of these issues this week when he embarks on a two-day bus tour of upstate New York and northeastern Pennsylvania. The president is also expected to stress education and jobs proposals.

(Read more: Newly revealed Obamacare delay draws fire)

Foreign affairs are no less crowded for the administration in the coming months.

Over the next few months, Obama faces the prospects of rising instability in Egypt, an escalating civil war in Syria and increasingly testy relations with Russia.

During the first week in September, he is scheduled to fly to St. Petersburg, Russia, for a Group of 20 nations summit, where a still-struggling global economy tops the agenda.

Even though the G-20 summit is in Russia, a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin is not on the schedule. Obama canceled a planned summit with Putin in Moscow after a string of differences that included Russia's decision to grant temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

Snowden's leaks led to criticism of NSA tactics, and Obama has said he will work with Congress on potential improvements to surveillance programs.

Outside events can always intrude on a president's time, as they did this week during his vacation in Martha's Vineyard.

After Egypt's interim military government cracked down on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, Obama responded by canceling plans for joint U.S.-Egyptian military exercises. He alluded to other potential aid cuts if the military government does not follow through on pledges to call new elections and re-install a democratically elected government.

"Going forward," Obama said, "I've asked my national security team to assess the implications of the actions taken by the interim government and further steps that we may take as necessary with respect to the U.S.-Egyptian relationship."

By David Jackson of USA Today

Contact Politics

  • CNBC NEWSLETTERS

    Get the best of CNBC in your inbox

    To learn more about how we use your information,
    please read our Privacy Policy.
    › Learn More