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Obama eyes modest momentum on Capitol Hill in 2014

The president is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Sunday morning after an overnight flight from his home state of Hawaii. He's spent two quiet weeks on the island of Oahu golfing and spending time with his family and childhood friends.

Upon his return, Obama will step back quickly into the debate over expired unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has scheduled a vote Monday night on a bill that would reinstate the benefits for three months.

Obama will try to make his case the following day, holding a White House event with some of those whose benefits expired at the end of December.

"For decades, Republicans and Democrats put partisanship and ideology aside to offer some security for job-seekers, even when the unemployment rate was lower than it is today," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. "Instead of punishing families who can least afford it, Republicans should make it their New Year's resolution to do the right thing and restore this vital economic security for their constituents right now."

The issue with the greatest potential to upset the tepid truce forged in December's budget deal is the debt ceiling. As part of the agreement that ended the 16-day partial government shutdown in October, Congress suspended the $16 trillion-plus debt limit. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says bookkeeping maneuvers he can use to keep under that ceiling will last only until late February or early March.

Obama once again has pledged that he won't negotiate on the matter. House Republicans will plot their strategy at a caucus retreat later this month.

Aside from fiscal matters, the president also must make decisions on what changes he wants in the government's vast surveillance powers. He's expected to announce those changes before his Jan. 28 State of the Union address, though an exact date has not been set.

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