Obama defends executive actions: Americans don’t want me ‘twiddling my thumbs’

President Obama vigorously defended his use of executive powers on Wednesday, blaming House Republicans for stalling key parts of his agenda, including immigration reform.

"In the face of that kind of dysfunction, what I can do is scour our authorities to try to make progress," Obama said. "And were going to make sure that every time we take one of these steps we are working within the confines" of my executive authority.

The president said Americans don't want him standing around and "twiddling my thumbs" in the face of Republican opposition.

Republicans have assailed the president for his use of executive power. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is spearheading a move to sue the president for changes he made to the federal health-care law. Some conservative have even called for Obama to be impeached.

Obama made his remarks at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington. Asked about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Obama declined to weigh in on the efficacy of an experimental Ebola drug that may have saved the lives of two Americans who had the virus.

"I don't think all the information is in in whether this drug is helpful," he said.

President Obama marked the end of the three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. Obama was asked if the experimental drug used on the two Americans infected with the Ebola virus will become available to African countries. (The Washington Post)

The president said leaders at the session agreed about the importance of expanding trade, combating disease, boosting public health, combating corruption and expanding opportunities for women in Africa.

Obama added that leaders at the summit agreed the meeting, which is the first of its kind, should be a regular occurrence.

Weighing in on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Obama said he supports the Egyptian efforts to form a lasting agreement. The U.S. aim, he said, to make sure the violence does not resume.

"The U.S. goal right now would be to make sure the cease-fire holds, that Gaza can bring the process of rebuilding and that some measures are taken so that the people of Gaza feel some sense of hope and the people of Israel feel confident they are not going to have a repeat of the kind of rocket launches we've seen over the last several weeks," said Obama.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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