Five Big Issues For The New Congress
The GOP already demonstrated its renewed interest in this issue late last year, by pursuing legislation to welcome high-skilled immigrants, as well as their own version of the DREAM Act -- called the ACHIEVE Act -- that would give permanent residency to certain undocumented youths. Additionally, a group of bipartisan senators has already reportedly started meeting behind closed doors to discuss immigration legislation.
3. Gun control
Gun control may not have been a priority this year had it not been for the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month.
"I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this," Mr. Obama said in a news conference after the shooting. "We won't prevent them all, but that can't be an excuse not to try."
The president tasked Vice President Joe Biden with leading a task force that will produce a plan to reduce gun violence. The White House has said Mr. Obama would support an assault weapons ban, stricter background-check requirements and a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips.
Democrats in this new Congress have already produced legislation to ban high-capacity ammunition clips, winning the support of some moderate Democrats. Even some Republicans have suggested they could get behind the bill. Mr. Obama has reached out to at least one lawmaker, moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who switched his position on gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. The White House said the president was "heartened" by the evolving attitudes in Congress.
A CBS News poll conducted in the days following the Newtown shooting showed that the public is also ready a new look at gun laws: support for stricter gun control reached a 10-year high, and up 18 points from the spring of 2012.
Democrats sound hopeful about the likelihood of passing stricter gun control measures, with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., remarking on CBS' Face the Nation, "We could be at a tipping point...where we might actually get something done."
The National Rifle Association, however, has made clear it will continue to oppose a ban on semiautomatic weapons and will push its own agenda.
Along with economic issues and immigration, Mr. Obama has signified that energy and climate change will be one of his second-term priorities.
"The temperature around the globe is increasing," Mr. Obama said in his first press conference after winning re-election. "I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions, and as a consequence, I think we have an obligation to do something about it."
Still, the president readily acknowledged that there's little political will or public appetite for significant steps to reform the nation's energy policies or reduce climate change.