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5 key issues where Obama used executive action in 2014

HONOLULU — President Barack Obama set out in 2014 to use his executive powers to advance priorities resisted by Congress.

He was successful in some areas, enacting sweeping changes to U.S. policy all on his own. Other initiatives fell flat or had only modest impact, a reminder of the limits of presidential power.

A look at the key areas where Obama sough to use executive authority in 2014:

CLIMATE CHANGE

  • Proposed unprecedented carbon dioxide limits on U.S. power plants in a bid to reduce the emissions of heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming.
  • Tasked the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department with developing new fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks.
  • Expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument and withdrew Alaska’s Bristol Bay from consideration for oil and gas exploration or drilling.
  • Pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, a U.N.-established fund to help poorer countries prepare for a changing climate. It’s unclear where Obama will find the money.
  • Reached agreement with China to reduce or limit carbon dioxide emissions in future years.

ECONOMY

  • Asked Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Congress didn’t take that step, but 14 states increased their minimum wage in 2014.
  • Ordered regulations requiring federal contract workers to be paid at least $10.10 per hour.
  • Tasked Treasury Department with creating myRA retirement savings program for low-income individuals.
  • Cracked down on certain overseas corporate mergers and acquisitions, aiming to stop companies from shirking U.S. taxes.
  • Launched four regional manufacturing hubs.

IMMIGRATION

  • Moved to shield roughly 4 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally from fear of deportation and grant them work permits.
  • Reordered law enforcement priorities and expanded an existing deportation deferral program for immigrants brought illegally as kids.
  • Loosen eligibility requirements for a waiver program for people seeking green cards.

EDUCATION

  • Enabled student loan borrowers with some federal loans to cap monthly payments at one-tenth of their income.
  • Secured private-sector commitments of $2 billion to get classrooms connected to high-speed Internet.
  • Secured commitments from 60 U.S. school districts to offer basic computer science to all middle or high school students.

FOREIGN POLICY

  • Extended the validity of visas for Chinese visitors to ten years for tourists and business travelers and five years for students.
  • Restored diplomatic relations with Cuba and eased some sanctions and travel restrictions.