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Obama: Progress in 2014 depends of Congress

U.S. President Barack Obama holds a year-end news conference at the White House in Washington, Dec. 20, 2013. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
U.S. President Barack Obama holds a year-end news conference at the White House in Washington, Dec. 20, 2013. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Saturday urged Congress to extend unemployment insurance for long-term jobless workers and put its "entire focus" on job creation.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president acknowledged a "spirit of compromise" allowed for passage of a federal budget and Senate confirmation of several of his judicial, cabinet and military officials.

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"So after a year of showdowns and obstruction that only held back our economy, we've been able to break the logjam a bit over the last few weeks," he said. "It's a hopeful sign that we can end the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making and actually work together to get things done."

Obama called on Congress, as he has done repeatedly in recent weeks, to enact an extension of unemployment insurance for U.S. workers who have been jobless in the long term.

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"Right now, because Congress failed to act before leaving on vacation, more than 1 million Americans are poised to lose a vital source of income just a few days after Christmas," the president said. "For many people who are still looking for work, unemployment insurance is a lifeline that can make the difference between temporary hardship or lasting catastrophe. Instead of punishing these families who can least afford it -- especially now -- Congress should first restore that lifeline immediately, then put their entire focus on creating more good jobs that pay good wages."

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He said he will focus on job creation "next year, and every day I have the privilege of being your president."

"And if Congress continues to act in the spirit of cooperation we've seen in recent weeks, I'm confident we can make much more progress together in the year to come," the president said.

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