Holiday weekend in politics: Obama visits Chicago, pay freeze vote, and more

Phil Pruitt

President Barack Obama will visit Hyde Park Academy in Chicago on Friday to promote proposals made during his State of the Union address for strengthening the economy. He also is expected to discuss efforts to reduce gun violence.

Chicago became a national focus of the gun violence debate when 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed there just days after performing in President Obama’s inauguration festivities. Her parents joined first lady Michelle Obama at the State of the Union address.

Chicago is the third and final stop on Obama’s post-address tour to push his proposals. He was in North Carolina on Wednesday to talk about manufacturing and in Georgia on Thursday to speak about preschool education.

Before leaving for Chicago, Obama will honor recipients of the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, which recognizes people who have “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.”  There are 18 honorees this year,  including posthumous awards for the six adults shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last year.

The House is expected to vote Friday on a bill that would to extend to three years the current freeze on cost-of-living pay increases for the nation's 2 million civilian federal workers.

Obama initiated a two-year pay freeze in 2011 to cut government spending, and legislation last year to avoid a government shutdown extended that the freeze to March 27. This past December, Obama ordered a 0.5 percent pay increase that would go into effect at the end of March.

The GOP-led House is expected to pass the pay-freeze bill, but the Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to pass it.

Also worth noting this weekend: The “Forward on Climate Rally” is planned Sunday on the National Mall. It is organized by The Sierra Club, and the Hip-Hop Caucus. It is being billed as the “'largest climate rally in history.” The stated goal: Help the president “start his second term with strong climate action.”

And then there is this: Sunday marks the 4th anniversary of President Obama authorizing the deployment of up to 17,000 extra troops to Afghanistan to help combat the Taliban. In his State of the Union address, Obama said that 34,000 American troops will come home in 2013 and that by the end of 2014 “our war in Afghanistan will be over.”

And this: Obama will be back in Washington on Monday after spending the holiday weekend in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Sources: Yahoo News’ The Ticket, Associated Press and Reuters.