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Confrontations await Obama after Asia trip

Published:Tuesday | November 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM
President Barack Obama salutes as he steps from Marine One onto the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington, Sunday, as he arrives from Brisbane, Australia.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel
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WASHINGTON (AP):

President Barack Obama returns from a productive trip to Asia back to a Washington where confrontations loom with Republicans on immigration and a massive oil-pipeline project.

The contentious immigration debate could mean a year-end fight over keeping the United States (US) government running, if some Republican lawmakers get their way.

On the foreign policy front, there is a November 24 deadline in nuclear negotiations with Iran, and questions are surfacing within the administration about whether to overhaul US policy toward Syria.

Given his faltering political support in the US and his party's recent election losses, Obama's trip to China, Myanmar and Australia appeared to offer respite.

Successful foreign trip

The president, who returned to the White House late Sunday, basked in policy breakthroughs with China and warm welcomes in Myanmar and Australia.

"I intend to build on that momentum when I return home," Obama said at a news conference before heading home.

When Obama set off for the Asia Pacific, both the White House and Republicans were suggesting that the Republicans' decisive takeover of the Senate in this month's elections could pave the way for bipartisan breakthroughs. But just two weeks after the election, that talk largely has faded, making it increasingly likely that Washington will churn through two more years of gridlock.

Republicans attribute the swift shift in tone largely to Obama's plans to move forward with executive actions on immigration that potentially could shield from deportation about five million immigrants who are living in the United States illegally. The president has pledged to announce the measures before year's end. He could act shortly after returning to Washington.

The incoming Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has warned that such executive actions would "poison the well" with the new Republican-led Senate and could prevent the party from working with Obama on other potential areas of agreement.