Nightly News   |  January 05, 2014

Here’s Obama’s 2014 To-Do List

After a tense 2013, President Obama focuses now on extending unemployment benefits and the midterm elections. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> president obama is back at the white house this evening following his 15-day vacation in hawaii and he has a long list of priorities as congress also returns this week. kristin, what's at the top of the president's to do list?

>> reporter: well, president obama will aim to reboot his presidency this year after iraqi 2013 . the first item will be extending unemployment benefits and election year politics will play a big role in almost every fight this year. back from sunny hawaii, president obama returned to a much colder and less friendly washington, d.c. this morning. a fitting back drop as he gears up for the first tight of 2014 , sentencing unemployment benefits which expired in december for 1.3 million americans who have been out of work for six months or longer. in his weekly media message, mr. obama blamed republicans for leaving those benefits out of last month's budget deal.

>> denying families that security is just plain cruel. we're a better country than that.

>> reporter: on monday the senate will vote a proposal to extend the benefits for three months. many republicans say they will only support it if the $6.5 billion price tag is offset by spending cuts.

>> i've always said that i'm not opposed to unemployment insurance . i'm opposed to having for it without paying for it.

>> reporter: the president will renew his call for an increase in the minimum wage in his state of the union address . another piece of democratic strategy designed to paint republicans as the party of the rich ahead of the fall elections.

>> we want to make sure this recovery leaves no one behind. that we deal with economic inequality.

>> reporter: while the president will also continue pushing for immigration reform , his biggist political priority will be to shift the narrative on health care . the administration has recovered after an official rocky rollout but republicans see problems as their winning campaign issue.

>> people thought government had gone too big, too expansive and obamacare it was last straw.

>> reporter: there is some cautious optimism growing out of last month's budget deal that democrats and republicans will be able to find some common ground in 2014 . one possible sign? house speaker john boehner has expressed a willingness to work on immigration reform .