WASHINGTON — Four years ago, President Barack Obama and his staff spent the first day in the White House learning the basics. Not just the basics of governing, but also figuring out how to get cleared into their offices by the Secret Service, log on to their government computers and find keys to unlock office drawers.
They solved those problems long ago. Also in the rearview mirror are the economic recession, the Iraq war and the hunt for terror mastermind Osama bin Laden.
But plenty of fresh challenges lie ahead as the president and his team begin the first working day of the second term Tuesday.
Obama will quickly confront three fiscal deadlines that demand cooperation with the Congress, including raising the debt ceiling, which the House scheduled for a vote Wednesday. The deaths of three Americans in a siege on a natural gas plant in Algeria have renewed fears about the rise of terrorism in North Africa. And Obama must soon finalize the next phase of the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Before getting down to business, Obama had a few more inaugural obligations to complete Tuesday, including a prayer service at the National Cathedral. It was the third straight day of religious worship for Obama surrounding his second inauguration, including Sunday and Monday at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church and St. John's Episcopal Church, respectively.
The president also planned to celebrate Tuesday night with campaign and White House staff at a glitzy inaugural ball featuring singer Lady Gaga.
Otherwise, Tuesday is expected to be a normal working day at the White House. The president will meet with his top aides, and press secretary Jay Carney will brief the press.
Behind the scenes, the president and his advisers are working on the ambitious progressive agenda Obama outlined in his inaugural address, one that will require cooperation from a divided Congress in an era of looming budget cuts.