President Obama last night plugged energy policy as one of his top legislative priorities for his next two years in office.
In an appearance on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," Obama defended policy changes he has accomplished on the job so far -- namely broad health care reform -- but said some issues, like energy, remain top goals.
"We have made a lot of progress over the last 18 months that from a historical perspective ranks up there with any legislative session we've seen in history," Obama said on the show. "And we're going to have to continue to make some progress on things like energy, which didn't get done; on immigration reform, that did not get done."
Progress on energy and climate issues is crucial to maintaining the economic health of the country, he said.
"Right now, I think now a lot of people are worried that if we don't make significant investments in things like education, in energy, in infrastructure, in research and development, that we're going to start falling behind," he added.
The Obama administration and many Democrats in Congress had high hopes at the beginning of his term for passing sweeping energy and climate legislation.
The House passed a broad climate bill last summer that included controversial cap-and-trade language, but Senate negotiations have stalled. And little hope remains that the upper chamber can pass anything but the smallest energy measures in the short legislative session after the November elections.
In several recent interviews, Obama has said Congress needs to tackle energy and climate issues in "chunks" and "bite-sized pieces" next year because a sweeping bill is unlikely to move.
But in his interview with Stewart, he defended the House's action on climate and other difficult issues. And he said he hoped lawmakers' votes on the issues would be rewarded in next week's elections.
"The fact is there are a bunch of folks who took really tough votes that they knew were bad politics because they thought that they were the right things to do," Obama said. "And my hope in this election is that people who vote on the basis of what they think is right and have integrity and aren't just thinking about the next election, but are thinking about the next generation, that they are rewarded."
Reporter Katherine Ling contributed.