President Obama sought to refocus attention on domestic issues Thursday and move away from the debate over striking Syria, which has consumed his administration in recent weeks.
“It is still important to recognize that we have a lot of things left to do here in this government,” Obama said ahead of a Cabinet meeting at the White House.
“The American people are still interested … that we are dealing properly with a federal budget, that bills are being paid on time, that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved and that the federal government itself,” he added.
Obama faces a series of bruising fiscal battles in the weeks ahead as Washington must pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded ahead of an October deadline. The U.S. will also hit its borrowing limit next month, threatening a potential default on its debt.
Obama’s comments came two days after a national address where he said he would delay plans to strike Syria as punishment for using chemical weapons and pursue talks with Russia on a peaceful resolution.
The president said that his meeting with Cabinet members would focus on those budget issues, the rollout of Obamacare and immigration reform.
Unable to get lawmakers to coalesce behind a solution on Syria, the president is looking for leverage on those legacy-defining domestic issues.
However, the president’s failure to unite lawmakers behind authorization of military force in Syria likely weakened his hand heading into those debates, Capitol Hill insiders told the Washington Examiner.
“If Putin and Assad just toy with [Obama] for the next month, there’s no doubt he will have an exceedingly weakened presidency and ability to make demands of anyone,” a senior House GOP leadership aide said.
Added an adviser to a Democratic senator close to Obama of the contentious Syria debate: “Do I fear a carryover effect? I do.”