Looking ahead to his second-term agenda, Obama pledged quick action on comprehensive immigration reform, but said climate change would be a tougher slog. There was little action on either issue during his first term.
Obama said he expected that a comprehensive immigration reform bill would be introduced “very soon after my inauguration.” The White House is already engaged in conversations with Capitol Hill.
He said the legislation should make permanent the administrative changes he made earlier this year that allow some young illegal immigrants to remain in the country legally. He said that the overall bill should include a “pathway to legal status” for the millions of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally but haven’t committed crimes unrelated to immigration.
On climate change, Obama said he would soon start conversations with Congress and industry to sound out their positions.
Before tackling those issues and others, Obama will have to face the departure of several key Cabinet secretaries and White House staffers. Among those expected to leave are Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry are the leading candidates to replace Clinton. Rice is a favorite of the president, but she has faced intense criticism for her role in the initial administration response to the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, during an attack
“When they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me,” Obama said. “And should I choose, if I think that she would be the best person to serve America, in the capacity of the State Department, then I will nominate her. That’s not a determination that I’ve made yet.”