5 stories to watch this week

5 stories to watch this week
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Sunday, July 21, 2013 - 7:53pm

President Barack Obama holds more campaign-like events on the economy this week after speaking on Monday to the group that helped him get a second term in the White House.

Here are five stories to watch in the week ahead.

1. Taking the show on the road

After two weeks in Washington, Obama will take his case on the economy directly to the American people.

The president travels to Galesburg, Illinois, and Warrensburg, Missouri, on Wednesday to hold events on the economy. The next day, Obama visits Jacksonville, Florida, to speak again on the country's economic conditions.

Polls indicate that the economy remains the top issue on the minds of Americans.

"The economy, and the things we can do to help it grow and strengthen and secure and expand the middle class, has been, is and will be the central focus of the president's domestic policy," White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Friday.

Carney would not confirm reports the president would also include a pitch for immigration reform during his Wednesday-Thursday swing, but he did repeat the White House line that comprehensive immigration reform would significantly reduce the country's deficit and expand growth. Maybe that's a hint.

2. Getting a little help from his friends

Obama will team up with some of his biggest supporters, who hope to push the president's agenda over the next month.

The president speaks Monday to Organizing for Action, the pro-Obama advocacy group that was spun off from the president's 2012 re-election campaign. The "Action August" conference, to be held in the nation's capital, is designed to plan the group's activities during the August congressional recess in support of the president's policy agenda.

OFA tells CNN it wants to keep a "steady drumbeat going while members of Congress are back in their home states and districts." The top issues on the list: health care, immigration reform, gun control, and climate change.

The president is expected to speak to around 200 volunteers, financial supporters and OFA and Obama campaign alumni. Later the president will dine with a smaller group of around 70 supporters and friends.

This is the second time Obama has talked at an event put on by OFA, which was formed in January. When the president first met with the group in March, there was criticism that the group, which is registered as a nonprofit social-welfare organization, planned to grant special access to the president for top donors. OFA officials vigorously pushed back against such accusations.

3. House starts work on its immigration reform plan

Most House Republicans oppose allowing eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but Tuesday they will begin taking action on a measure that could provide citizenship for the children of those immigrants.

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold its first hearing on the topic of what to do about undocumented children. This follows comments last week from House Speaker John Boehner, who said Congress must deal with the issue.

"This is about basic fairness. These children were brought here on no accord of their own. And frankly, they are in a very difficult position. And I think many of our members believe that this issue needs to be addressed," Boehner said at a weekly news conference with House GOP leaders.

Boehner has made it clear the House will not take up the bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate last month, which does provide an eventual path to citizenship for most of the undocumented immigrants in the country. Many House Republicans consider that to be amnesty. But at a meeting of all House Republicans last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor suggested that children fall into a special category and shouldn't be penalized for their parents' decision to break the law.

Boehner still has not said how the House would ultimately address the broader issue of the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S.

4. Another showdown over Obama nominees?

The Senate may clear Obama's two picks to the National Labor Relations Board, who were central to last week's major showdown that threatened to bring the Senate to a halt.

Despite a breakthrough to get Obama's appointees to a vote, it's not clear how much support the nominees will get from GOP senators who have deep misgivings about the Democrat-controlled board. One Republican aide predicted the nominees are unlikely to get more than the bare minimum needed to break a filibuster, but another said GOP senators would wait to learn more about the nominees before deciding.

Their chance for that will come Tuesday when the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee holds confirmation hearings for Kent Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer. As part of the filibuster compromise, they replaced two more controversial nominees, whom Republicans opposed because Obama chose them as recess appointees despite the Senate's insistence it was in session.

The question over the constitutionality of the recess appointments could be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court this fall.

A committee vote is planned for Hirozawa and Schiffer on Wednesday and a final confirmation vote on the floor could happen Thursday, aides said.

5. GOP pitch to women voters

On Tuesday, House Republicans will launch a new effort to reach out to women voters, dubbed "Project Grow." Led by the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP's campaign arm, the program is part of the national party's strategy to expand its appeal following the 2012 presidential election.

Party officials concede that comments last year from Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee in Missouri, about "legitimate rape" and controversial remarks from other candidates tarnished the image of the GOP among women.

Project Grow's goal is to recruit more female candidates and craft a message for all GOP candidates to use in the 2014 midterm elections. Currently only 19 of the 234 Republicans in the House are women.

Last week House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi unveiled the Democrats' agenda targeting women's issues, which includes legislation providing equal pay and encouraging greater worker flexibility and affordable child care.

CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash will have an exclusive interview Tuesday with the House Republican women leading Project Grow.

CNN's Craig Broffman contributed to this report.

 

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