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Obama officials lower expectations for 2014 legislative wins

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House will not consider 2014 a failure if major legislative victories are elusive, senior administration officials said on Tuesday in an effort to play down expectations of a thaw in relations with Congress.

President Barack Obama still hopes to pass immigration reform and push other policy priorities, but also will focus on implementation of laws from the earlier part of his tenure, including healthcare and regulatory reform, the officials said.

Last year the president began his second term with high hopes of advancing news laws on immigration, gun control and gay rights. But he was unable to make significant progress with the House of Representatives, which one official described as having the most conservative Republican majority in history.

In a background briefing with reporters on Tuesday, officials said a lot of Obama's goals for the new year would not be centered on passing laws. Immigration reform remained a top priority, which will require congressional support. But other areas such as climate change policy - a big issue this year - could be advanced through executive action.

Obama would spend the coming weeks ahead of his January 28 State of the Union address working on loose ends from 2013 including an extension of unemployment benefits, a speech on national security reforms, and announcements on progress in manufacturing policies, they said.

The president returned to Washington from a roughly two-week vacation in Hawaii on Sunday.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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