US President Barack Obama is returning to the rancor of the nation’s capital after two weeks of fun and sun in his native Hawaii, saying he’s “fired up” for his final year in office and ready to tackle unfinished business.
At the top of Obama’s priority list is executive action that is expected to expand when background checks are required for gun purchases.
Obama is meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday to discuss a three-month review of what actions he could take to help reduce gun violence.
The actions, which are staunchly opposed by Republicans and likely to spark a legal fight, underscore Obama’s desire to keep up an aggressive agenda in 2016, even as the public’s attention shifts to the presidential election.
Obama spent much of his vacation out of the public eye, playing golf with friends and dining out on the island of Oahu with his family. He also worked on his final State of the Union address, scheduled for January 12.
The address to Congress is a high-profile opportunity for the president to try to reassure the public about his national security stewardship after the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
Advisers say Obama will also look for other opportunities to keep security issues at the forefront as he tries to ease Americans’ concerns.
“Over the coming weeks and months, the American people should expect the president to continue to communicate directly about his commitment to fighting terrorism and protecting the homeland,” spokesman Eric Schultz said.
Congressional Republicans have outlined a competing agenda for January, saying they’ll spend the first days of 2016 taking another crack at eliminating keys parts of the president’s health insurance law and ending federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
The legislation is unlikely to become law, but it is popular with the GOP base in an election year.
The debate over Obama’s gun actions will quickly spill over into the presidential campaign. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has already called for more aggressive executive actions on guns, while Republican candidates largely oppose efforts to expand background checks or take other steps that curb access to guns.
In his weekly radio address, Obama said tens of thousands of people have died in the US from gun violence since background check legislation stalled three years ago.