Stakes High for this Year's 'State of the Union'

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When President Barack Obama enters the House chamber Tuesday night for his State of the Union address, he'll face a very different looking Congress.

For the first time in his administration, a Republican speaker of the House will sit behind him, with spending a top concern for GOP lawmakers in front of him.

The president plans to keep the economy as a main talking point.

"My number one focus is going to be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing, and that we are creating jobs not just now, but well into the future," Obama said over the weekend.

He added that he'll focus on investing in education, technology, and research, which worries some Republicans.

"We want to cut and grow, because when we hear 'invest' from anyone in Washington, to me, that means more spending," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said.

House Republicans are pushing a non-binding resolution with Democrats that returns federal spending levels to those of 2008 on non-defense-related items.

President Obama has realigned himself politically since the November elections, moving more towards the center.

His poll numbers have since improved, but Republicans say the real proof will be in the president's policies.

"I'm happy that the president is pivoting. We all know why," Sen. Mitch McConnell, R.Ky., said. "But it is kind of a trust, but verify moment. Let's see if he's really willing to do it."

In the wake of the shootings in Tuscon, Ariz., some lawmakers will cross the aisle and sit with members of the opposite party. For example, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin will sit with Republican Sen. Mark Kirk.

"I'm bringing the popcorn. He's bringing a Coke with two straws," Durbin joked.

The shooting appears to have genuinely affected the tone in Washington, even if only temporarily. Former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain said he thinks there are a number of areas where lawmakers can find common ground.

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Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.