Barack Obama embarks on first working day of 2nd term

Plenty of fresh challenges lie ahead as President Barack Obama and his team begin the first working day of the second term on Tuesday.

Updated: Jan 23, 2013, 00:04 AM IST

Washington: Plenty of fresh challenges lie ahead as President Barack Obama and his team begin the first working day of the second term on Tuesday.

Obama will quickly confront three fiscal deadlines that demand cooperation with Congress, including raising the debt ceiling, which the House of Representatives scheduled for a vote tomorrow.

The deaths of three Americans in a siege on a natural gas plant in Algeria have renewed fears about the rise of terrorism in North Africa.

And Obama must soon finalise the next phase of the drawdown of US troops in Afghanistan.

In his inaugural address yesterday, the president also previewed an ambitious progressive agenda, one that will require cooperation from a divided Congress in an era of looming budget cuts.

"We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit," Obama said, speaking to the hundreds of thousands of people watching his speech on the long strip of green known as the National Mall.

"But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future."

The president has a few more inaugural obligations to complete before getting down to business.

He and Vice President Joe Biden were attending a prayer service today morning at the National Cathedral, and they will celebrate with campaign and White House staffers at another glitzy inaugural ball tonight.

Otherwise, today is expected to be a normal working day at the White House. The president will meet with top aides, and press secretary Jay Carney will brief the press.

Behind the scenes, Obama and his advisers are working on plans to unveil a comprehensive overhaul of US immigration laws, which is expected to be a central topic in Obama`s February 12 State of the Union address.

The president also will be seeking support from a wary Congress for the far-reaching package of gun control proposals he unveiled last week, including an assault weapons ban and universal background checks for gun purchasers.

Obama also paid special attention to climate change during his inaugural address, an issue he spent little time on during his first term.

"Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms," he said.

Still, it was unclear how much effort Obama would put into climate change legislation this year or how much political capital he would have left to spend on the issue after tackling his other priorities.