[Updated at 2:32 p.m. ET] The National Rifle Association of America has issued a statement responding to Obama's announcement:
"Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority. The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law. We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to
protecting America's most valuable asset - our children.
"Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy."
[Updated at 12:43 p.m. ET] Senate Democratic leadership sources tell CNN that passing any new legislation will be extremely difficult because more than a dozen vulnerable Democrats from conservative states will probably resist much of what the president is pushing, according to CNN's Dana Bash.
These Democratic sources say the most likely legislation to pass will be strengthening background checks, since it is the least overt form of gun control and it also appeals to gun rights advocates' emphasis on keeping guns away from people with mental health and criminal problems.
[Updated at 12:42 p.m. ET] Reaction to Obama's announcement is starting to come in. From Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, whose state was the site of the December 14 school massacre that prompted Obama to examine gun control steps:
"In the hours after the worst of our fears were confirmed, in the midst of the grief and sorrow over the loss of 20 innocent children and six dedicated educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there was one question on the minds of people across Connecticut and around the nation: How do we make sure this never happens again? Today the president took the critical first step toward answering that question. The common sense measures he proposed today are something that we should all be able to agree on, and I want to commend him and the vice president for their work on this issue."
From Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner:
"House committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations. And if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that."
[Updated at 12:22 p.m. ET] The announcement is over, and Obama is signing the 23 executive actions. These actions are in addition to laws that Obama wants Congress to pass. Here, according to the White House, are the 23 executive actions that he and his administration will do:
1. "Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system."
2. "Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system."
3. "Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system."
4. "Direct the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks."
After days of controversy surrounding the issue, the U.S. House has approved a bill that would send more than $50 billion in aid to states affected by last fall's Superstorm Sandy.
The bill passed 241-180.
Tuesday evening's vote came two weeks after the House approved a smaller, $9.7 billion package paying for flood insurance claims. It also comes following a controversy that arose because the House leadership did not put a Sandy aid package to vote in the final day of the last Congress. That delay came amid fiscal cliff bickering and consternation over dwindling federal funds.
The bill that the House passed Tuesday will now go to the Senate.
The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan deal Friday morning extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits while also avoiding a Medicare fee cut for doctors for the rest of the year.
The measure was approved in a 293-132 vote. A majority of both Republicans and Democrats voted in favor of the bill, though 91 Republicans and 41 Democrats voted no.
The Senate is also expected to pass the bill Friday.
President Barack Obama has promised to sign the legislation as soon as it reaches his desk, ending debate on the politically sensitive measures at least for the duration of the election.
The roughly $100 billion payroll tax cut, a key part of Obama's economic recovery plan, has reduced how much 160 million American workers pay into Social Security on their first $110,100 in wages. Instead of paying in 6.2%, they've been paying 4.2% for the past year and two months - a break worth about $83 a month for someone making $50,000 a year.
Without congressional action, all three measures are set to expire at the end of February.FULL STORY
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords took a few steps into the House chamber and absorbed a 90-second standing ovation before the State of the Union address Tuesday night, the eve of her resignation to focus on recovering from her shooting last year.
Giffords, escorted by colleagues including her friend U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, smiled and waved as attendees stood and cheered, with some chanting "Gab-by! Gab-by!"
Her husband, retired Navy captain and former astronaut Mark Kelly, smiled as he watched from his seat near first lady Michelle Obama. As President Barack Obama entered a few minutes later, the president paused at Giffords' seat and gave her a long embrace and a kiss on the cheek.
And when she stood during the speech and applauded Obama's lines, the Arizona Democrat was helped to her feet by a Republican and fellow Arizonan, U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, who probably wouldn't be standing with Democrats during applause lines otherwise.
"It was the least I could do," Flake told CNN after the address. "It was just an incredible experience to be there with her, particularly after last year, having an empty chair where she should have been. It was just an overwhelming, emotional experience for, I think, all of us."FULL STORY
Members of the congressional "super committee" - the bipartisan panel tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in budget savings over the next decade - will likely announce Monday that they have failed, according to both Democratic and Republican aides.
"No decisions or agreement has been reached concerning any announcement or how this will end," one senior Democratic aide said. "But, yes, the likely outcome is no agreement will be reached."
Markets dropped as news spread of the panel's apparent failure. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had declined over 300 points by noon Monday.FULL STORY
[Updated at 9:28 p.m.] Congress voted Wednesday on a bipartisan basis to pass free-trade bills with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
President Barack Obama, who dined Thursday at a Korean restaurant with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and is to welcome him Thursday on a state visit to the White House, sent the trade deals to Congress last week.
The White House, Republicans and big business groups have said the deals would create jobs in the United States. The deals could spur $13 billion annually in new exports and "support tens of thousands of jobs," a senior administration official has said.
In a statement issued by the Office of the Press Secretary, Obama called the agreements "a major win" for the nation. "Tonight's vote, with bipartisan support, will significantly boost exports that bear the proud label 'Made in America,' support tens of thousands of good-paying American jobs and protect labor rights, the environment and intellectual property," he said, promising to sign the bills.
In a separate statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the agreements "will make it easier for American companies to sell their products to South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which will create jobs here at home."
Union groups and some Democrats have opposed the bills, expressing doubt that they would create jobs.
The U.S. agriculture industry has been calling for the free-trade agreement, which could open new markets for beef, wheat and soybeans. The U.S. auto industry is also watching, as the deal with South Korea would mean a decline in tariffs aimed squarely at Detroit automakers.
House Republicans have voiced support for the deals.
"These three trade agreements will support American jobs and help create opportunities to expand for American businesses," Speaker John Boehner said last week in a statement.
Congressional leaders are in talks Sunday evening with President Barack Obama at the White House, hoping to craft a comprehensive deficit reduction deal that appeared to stall earlier in the weekend.
The key players - including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada - met in a White House conference room Sunday evening.
When asked before the start of Sunday's talks if a deal could be reached within 10 days, Obama told reporters, "We need to."FULL STORY
A bipartisan group of House members will file a lawsuit Wednesday challenging U.S. participation in the Libya military mission.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is set to defend U.S. military involvement in Libya to Congress, according to the White House.
The administration will provide a report to address a June 3 House resolution that raised questions about the president's goal in Libya, how he hopes to achieve that goal, why he has not sought congressional authorization for involving U.S. troops abroad, and how much the conflict will ultimately cost, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a letter to Obama on Tuesday that the administration could be in violation of the War Powers Resolution if it fails to get congressional authorization by Sunday, which he notes will be the 90th day since the mission began.
The lawsuit, which will be formally announced at a Washington news conference, will cite the War Powers Resolution as well as the role of Congress in protecting taxpayer's money, said Rep. Walter Jones, R-North Carolina, one of the 10 legislators filing it.
A statement by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, an anti-war liberal who is leading the lawsuit effort with Jones, said that the lawsuit will "challenge the executive branch's circumvention of Congress and its use of international organizations such as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to authorize the use of military force abroad, in violation of the Constitution."
"With regard to the war in Libya, we believe that the law was violated. We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies," Kucinich said in his statement.FULL STORY