Five months after his resounding reelection victory, President Obama is bumping up against the boundaries of his political power in Washington as the core of his second-term legislative agenda moves into a still-divided Congress.

His ability to secure the three high-profile legislative items now confronting Congress — gun-control measures, reform of the immigration system and his long-term budget priorities — is likely to determine his domestic legacy. Obama’s plan now is to ensure that as much of his politically challenging agenda as possible is enacted, after months of effort to frame the policies for the American public and, perhaps more important, for the House and Senate.

Each of the issues that Obama is pursuing is being managed independently by the second-term White House team — an improvisational strategy that is testing the president’s ability to calibrate when to get involved and when to stay out of the way.

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