After Legacy-Defining Week, What’s Next on President Obama’s Agenda?

President Obama just had one of the biggest weeks of his presidency: Supreme Court decisions on Obamacare and gay marriage, legislative victories on trade and a widely acclaimed speech in Charleston, S.C.

But that still leaves Obama with 82 weeks left in his presidency, and much of his agenda still undone.

“He is genuinely determined to try to make the most of every day that he has remaining here at the White House,” press secretary Josh Earnest said last week. “A lot can get done in 18 months, and the president is determined to use every single day to try to advance many of the priorities that he believes we need to make additional progress on.”

Even with Congress firmly in Republican hands for the rest of his presidency, Obama hopes there are some bipartisan proposals he can get through Congress. But he’s also stepped up his use of unilateral executive action in the last few years, and he’ll be defending some of those in court. And like other second-term presidents, Obama will turn to foreign policy in an attempt to burnish their legacies.

Here’s a list of major accomplishments Obama would like to get done before his successor is sworn in:

Climate change: The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this year will seek to achieve legally binding reductions in carbon emissions across the globe. Obama will almost certainly attend, building on a tentative climate deal with China last year. By casting climate change as an economic and national security issue, he’s elevated it to a unique position among his second-term priorities.

Iran nuclear deal: Obama’s efforts to negotiate a peaceful resolution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions faces its next test this week, as six world powers attempt to ink a final accord. Questions remain about how Iran will verify its compliance and what sanctions Western powers will roll back. Then, Congress will hold what will likely amount to a symbolic vote of no confidence on the agreement.

Islamic State: Obama has made clear that he’ll measure the fight against extremists in Syria and Iraq in years, not weeks. Obama approved sending 450 more advisers for the effort this month, but explicit congressional authorization for the mission has been slow in coming.

Trade: Obama’s big legislative victory on trade last week was almost entirely procedural. He still needs to negotiate the United States entry into Trans-Pacific Partnership — a 12-nation trade accord that would reduce tariffs and standardize labor regulations along the Pacific Rim. The trade promotion authority passed by Congress last week requires Congress to give that finished trade deal an up-or-down vote.

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SOURCE: Gregory Korte
USA TODAY

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