June 30, 2015 / 9:11 PM / 4 years ago

After 'gratifying' week, Obama sees long to-do list in time left

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - It did not match the week of his wedding or the weeks his daughters were born, but President Barack Obama acknowledged on Tuesday that last week was a particularly momentous one for him.

The Supreme Court legalized gay marriage and upheld his signature healthcare law, and Congress passed legislation critical to a Pacific trade pact Obama wants to finalize before leaving office in January 2017.

“I might see if we can make next week even better,” quipped Obama, who has about 18 months left in his presidency.

What’s next? Obama told reporters he hopes to next work with Congress on an infrastructure funding package and on reforming the criminal justice system.

“The list is long and my instructions to my team and my instructions to myself have always been that we are going to squeeze every last ounce of progress that we can make ... as long as I have the privilege of holding this office,” Obama said at a news conference.

Obama began work on his to-do list on Tuesday, unveiling a plan to make more U.S. workers eligible for overtime pay.

He also tried to marshal business and labor to pressure Congress to renew the charter for the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

On Wednesday, he heads to Tennessee, where he wants to persuade lawmakers to take a second look at expanding a publicly funded healthcare program for the poor under the Affordable Care Act.

Obama said he saw potential for bipartisan legislation on infrastructure spending and on reforms that would aim to lower incarceration rates for young minority men charged with nonviolent drug offenses.

“We’ve seen some really interesting leadership from some unlikely Republican legislators, very sincerely concerned about making progress there,” Obama said.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff (not pictured) hold a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington June 30, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

He acknowledged that items on his list will be left undone hen he leaves office. “One of the things I’ve learned in this presidency is that there are going to be ups and there are going to be downs.”

But he admitted that on Friday night he took a moment to enjoy what he called a “gratifying” week as the White House was lit with rainbow-hued floodlights in celebration of the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision.

“To see people gathered in an evening outside on a beautiful summer night and to feel whole and to feel accepted and to feel that they had a right to love - that was pretty cool,” Obama said. “That was a good thing.”

Reporting by Jeff Mason, Roberta Rampton, Julia Edwards; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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