Obama urges Democrats to do 'big things'

President Obama told House Democrats on Friday that he is willing to take executive actions, but needs acts of Congress on "big things" like immigration and a higher minimum wage.

As congressional elections loom within nine months, Obama told the House Democratic Issues Conference that they should not be "punting" major challenges over to the next Congress.

"It hurts people," Obama said, referring specifically to immigration. "It hurts our economy. It hurts families."

Obama and the Democrats have battled with Republicans over immigration, a minimum wage hike and other issues.

The president has issued executive orders on these topics -- including one this week to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors -- but told Democratic lawmakers that these actions can only go so far.

The Republicans are favored to keep and perhaps expand their House majority after the November elections.

Obama did not cite the elections directly, but did note that Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is "doing an extraordinary job under very difficult circumstances.":

The president spoke to the House Democratic Issues Conference before heading to California to tour drought damage and to meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Republicans pointed out that Obama did not ask the Democrats to support fast track authority for free trade agreement, a source of division within the president's party.

"The president takes a pass on asking Democrats to support something they don't already love," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "The president can ignore the trade issue all he wants, but that won't change the fact that it's his own party standing in the way of one of his priorities."


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