Submitted by: Marla Thompson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he would not wait for Congress to pass legislation to advance his policy priorities this year and said he was “getting close” to finishing a review of U.S. surveillance practices – to be unveiled on Friday.

Obama, speaking to reporters during a cabinet meeting at the White House, foreshadowed his upcoming State of the Union address and what appeared to be a new messaging strategy by emphasizing his ability to take executive actions without approval from lawmakers.

“We are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need,” he said.

“I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions … and I’ve got a phone that allows me to convene Americans from every walk of life,” he said.

Obama listed immigration reform as a priority for the year. He will need Congress to turn his goals on that issue into law.

Obama is scheduled to make a speech on Friday, outlining his decisions on how to reform controversial surveillance activities by the National Security Agency that were made public through revelations by former U.S. contractor Edward Snowden.

Asked if he had finished his NSA review, Obama said: “It’s getting close.”

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; editing by Gunna Dickson)



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