(NBC News) – President Obama is at the Asia-Pacific economic summit in Beijing this morning, leaving a divided congress back home to sort out issues like jobs, energy and immigration.
What Democrats and Republicans are trying to do now is figure out where they can agree while the president is halfway around the world focusing on the economy and trade.
Since arriving in Beijing, president Obama has already made progress on the trans-pacific trade partnership. “That makes this region an incredible opportunity for jobs and growth in America,” said President Barack Obama.
That’s one of the few areas where he’s on the same page with Republicans back home. “Let’s just focus on the big bold things that we can agree on,” said Rep. Steve Israel, (D) New York.
Like fixing roads and taxes. “I absolutely am optimistic about our ability to move something like tax reform,” said Senator Chris Murphy, (D) Connecticut.
But immigration remains a huge roadblock with the President threatening to go around Congress. “I think it would be like the president pulling the pin out of the hand grenade and throwing in as we’re trying to actually work together,” said Senator John Barrasso, (R) Wyoming.
“If the president is willing to work with us in the House and the Senate we could make that happen,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, (R) California.
Before leaving, President Obama said he’ll back off if congress comes up with a plan. “The minute they pass a bill that addresses the problems with immigration reform, I will sign it,” said President Barack Obama.
There are other concerns – jobs. “28 months of straight employment growth. But a lot of people aren’t feeling it in their actual pocketbooks,” said Rep. Elect Ruben Gallego, (D) Arizona.
Another concern is energy as lawmakers from coal country are pushing back. “The President’s policies is disenfranchising part of the country — my part of the country. We’ve been picked as a loser. I’m not going to stand for it,” said Senator Elect Shelley Moore Capito, (R) West Virginia.
A tough agenda for a divided Congress.