Since his second inauguration, Obama has lost a bid to expand background checks for gun buyers and was similarly unsuccessful at getting lawmakers to undo the spending cuts. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin considering and voting on scores of proposed changes to the immigration bill, which is facing opposition from conservatives, religious leaders and others.
His jobs proposals have stalled in Congress, with Republicans showing no interest in job-creation plans based on new federal spending. They also argue that Obama's regulatory regime and new health care law — the president's signature domestic policy achievement to date — are hindering more robust job growth.
"The president doesn't seem to understand that it's his policies that are undermining economic growth and job creation," House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday as the president departed.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ridiculed Obama's trip as mere image-building.
"If you're someone who's all about the visual, then of course putting on a pair of goggles or showing up at a factory is a great way to at least look like you're doing something about job creation," he said.
By traveling to Texas to begin this renewed attention to his jobs initiatives, Obama is choosing a state represented by two of the most conservative Republican members of the U.S. Senate — John Cornyn and tea party hero Ted Cruz. Texas also has the second-highest Hispanic population in the country, an attractive demographic group for Democrats and a key audience for Obama as he also pushes for an overhaul of immigration laws.
Obama's effort to highlight jobs and the economy is buoyed by last Friday's positive jobs report, which found that the unemployment rate had dipped to a four-year low of 7.5 percent in April and employers had added 165,000 jobs — and that far more jobs were added in in February and March than previously thought.