US President Barack Obama on Saturday used his weekly address to urge lawmakers returning from the post-Memorial Day recess to take action on mortgage refinancing and immigration reform.
Highlighting recent improvements in economic indicators, including rising home sales, a rebounding auto sector -- "with Americans buying more cars that we have in five years" -- and shrinking deficits, Obama said "now we need to do more."
"We've got to keep this progress going until middle-class families start regaining that sense of security. And we can't let partisan politics get in the way," the president said.
He asked lawmakers to pass a law allowing homeowners to refinance their mortgages at the current, very low interest rates, which he said could save each around $3,000 a year.
He urged investment in infrastructure to "put more Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, like the one that collapsed last week in Washington state.
"We'd all be safer, and the unemployment rate would fall faster," Obama said.
And he pressed lawmakers on immigration reform, calling for "common-sense reform that continues to strengthen our borders; holds employers accountable; provides a pathway to earned citizenship."
Such legislation "also modernizes our legal immigration system so that we're reuniting families and attracting the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help our economy grow," he added.
Obama envisions immigration reform as a major and viable second-term accomplishment, after Republicans who lost last November's election said it was crucial to reach out to minority communities such as Hispanics, the largest beneficiaries of any immigration deal.
In May, a sweeping immigration overhaul took a major step forward when a Senate panel gave bipartisan approval to a contentious and potentially historic bill that offers a path to citizenship for millions.
Meanwhile, in the Republicans' weekly address, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell called for US energy independence, arguing the federal government should open more federal lands, including Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to oil exploration.
"While the federal government wastes precious taxpayer dollars on green energy boondoggles that have collapsed in failure and bankruptcy, many with no benefit to America, access to federal lands has been consistently blocked by this administration," he argued.
"America's resources belong to Americans. They should be unlocked for our benefit and not locked up by Washington."
Drilling on federal reserves is hotly debated and opposed by many environmentalists.