- In January, a new Congress will meet and President Barack Obama will be sworn in for a second term. What issues will they fight over in 2013? Here's a look at five, in the order they'll likely come up.
- A chart from the Washington Post shows the rise in the use of the filibuster in recent years.
- Why it will be an issue: The use of the filibuster has skyrocketed in recent years, changing from a tool used by the minority on hot-button issues to a routine delaying tactic. Some newer Democratic senators, such as Jeff Merkley of Oregon, have proposed changes, and they'll be aided by a crop of new senators who explicitly ran on the issue. Most importantly, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., now supports filibuster reform too. Some Republicans hope for a compromise proposal that wouldn't limit filibusters as much as Merkley's proposal.
- What the public thinks: A survey by Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling found broad support for changes to the filibuster. A poll by the Huffington Post and YouGov found 65 percent support for requiring senators to be physically present in order to filibuster but only 34 percent support for switching to simple majority votes all the time, with 32 percent opposed and 34 percent unsure.
- What will happen: The Senate's Democratic majority will make some changes to the filibuster, but it's unclear yet whether they will be broad-ranging or more limited. The most likely change will be to require the so-called "talking filibuster," but this may have unintended consequences on how the Senate operates, sparking yet another debate over the rules down the road.
- Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., speaks to reporters before the second presidential debate in 2012. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
- Why it will be an issue: Republicans already successfully torpedoed the potential nomination of Susan Rice as secretary of state, though replacement nominee Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., should sail through confirmation. Obama's rumored choice for secretary of defense, former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, has run into problems, and Republicans also see an opening at the Environmental Protection Agency as a chance to bring up arguments about environmental regulation.
- What the public thinks: There's no reliable polling on Cabinet picks, but a 2008 poll showed that most Americans approved of Obama's choices then.
- What will happen: As a potential Republican appointee to a Democratic administration, Hagel has few defenders and will probably not be nominated. So far, Obama has not shown much appetite for fighting over Cabinet picks, preferring to save his fire for larger policy arguments, so his eventual nominees for the Defense Department and the EPA will likely be uncontroversial.
- Why it will be an issue: The shootings at a Connecticut elementary school have restarted the debate over gun control. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has pledged to introduce a ban on assault weapons on the first day of the new Congress, while Vice President Joe Biden is leading a task force on gun violence. Obama has said he will talk about the issue in his annual State of the Union address early in the year. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Warner of Virginia, two gun rights backers, have said its time to consider some new laws.
- What the public thinks: A USA Today/Gallup poll found that 58 percent support stricter gun laws, a huge increase over past polls, but 51 percent were against a new assault weapons ban. A Pew Research Center survey found opinions on the issue sharply divided along party lines as well as demographics. Meantime, a Gallup poll found that the National Rifle Association, which opposes new laws, enjoys a 54 percent favorability rating.
- What will happen: Gun control measures will get farther than they have in years and may even pass the Senate. But it will be a much tougher fight in the House, where a key Republican has already said he would not support new gun control proposals. Past mass shootings have not immediately led to new laws, so next year is likely the beginning of a drawn-out fight.
- Supporters of the DREAM Act wait to be arrested while performing an act of civil disobedience at a rally for immigration reform outside the White House in 2011. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
- Why it will be an issue: Obama broke a campaign promise to introduce a comprehensive immigration bill his first year in office. After receiving a resounding 71 percent support from Hispanics in his re-election effort, the president is gearing up for a major reform effort next year. Some key conservatives, concerned about rebooting the Republican Party's image among the fast-growing minority group, are open to immigration reform.
- What the public thinks: A Politico/George Washington University Battleground survey found that 62 percent of registered voters support allowing illegal immigrants to earn citizenship over a number of years. An ABC News/Washington Post poll found 57 percent support for giving illegal immigrants some sort of legal status if they paid a fine and met other requirements.
- What will happen: Remember the fight over the health care bill? Once again, Democrats are pushing for a comprehensive bill, while Republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida have called for a piecemeal approach. The issue will likely split Republicans along regional lines, with border-state politicians favoring reform, as well as on philosophical ones, with conservative activists opposing a deal.