SOTU: What Obama left out

President Obama avoided directly addressing several charged political topics in his State of the Union address, including the Keystone XL pipeline and gun control.

He referred to Keystone, which is now the subject of a heated battle in the Senate, only indirectly to illustrate the need to look holistically at how to develop the nation's infrastructure.


“21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure  —  modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet. Democrats and Republicans used to agree on this,” Obama told Congress.

“So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline,” he said, calling for a “bipartisan infrastructure plan.”

And while Obama spoke about the need to invest more in infrastructure, he made no mention of raising the gas tax, which most transportation advocates say would be one of the best ways to raise money for roads, bridges and rails.

Observers and interest groups had expected Obama to steer clear of the gas tax because he has previously opposed proposals to raise it and it faces strong opposition in Congress. 
The president's speech also made no mention of gun control, which received a brief mention last year, when Democrats still controlled the Senate.
The push for new gun control laws was at the forefront of Obama's 2013 State of the Union address, which concluded with an emotional plea for passing gun control legislation following the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. After a contentious battle that year, legislation aimed at expanding background checks failed in the Senate.

On the tech policy front, the president did not make any mention of patent reform, an issue that observers see as increasingly likely to advance now that Republicans control both chambers. He used a single sentence in last year's speech to call for legislative action.

The president also made no mention of campaign finance reform, despite previous anger over Supreme Court decisions that relaxed rules on campaign donations.

While there were several notable omissions in the speech, it was the Keystone line that spoke to the most active fight in Congress.

The Senate is in the midst of debating a bill that would force approval of the pipeline, bypassing Obama's role in approving the project’s permit. Supporters expect the bill to pass easily; the House has already passed a similar measure.

Obama has vowed to veto the bill. But he has also expressed skepticism over the pipeline itself in recent months.

In his most recent public statement about Keystone, the president said it would “not even have a nominal benefit” to U.S. consumers.

Earlier Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellManchin, Biden huddle amid talk of breaking up T package Romney: Removing Cheney from House leadership will cost GOP election votes The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden reverses Trump limits on transgender protections MORE (R-Ky.) mentioned Keystone as one of the issues he wanted Obama to mention in his address.

Mario Trujillo and Kevin Cirilli contributed.

Updated at 10:15 p.m.