Just as he’s shown his willingness to bypass Congress and take executive action, President Barack Obama made it clear during his annual State of the Union address that he’s happy to veto any bill that he doesn’t think will benefit the United States.
“We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got to fix a broken system,” he said during the State of the Union. “And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, I will veto it. It will have earned my veto.”
This is a big claim, as the president has only vetoed two bills while in office. But let’s take a look at 8 of the bills Obama has threatened to veto.
1. Keystone XL pipeline
The extension to the Keystone pipeline would be a long-stalled oil pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Much debate has taken place over the potential economic merits and environmental problems the new pipeline would create. While those in support of the pipeline say it will create 42,000 jobs, many argue that those jobs would not be permanent. As many environmental activists oppose the construction of the XL pipeline, Obama would be going against much of his party if he supported it.
A couple of weeks ago the House of Representatives approved the Keystone XL pipeline after a decision from Nebraska’s Supreme Court cleared the way for the project. Obama has said he would veto the bill, however. Before the House’s approval, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, “If this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn’t sign it.”
2. Changes to the Affordable Care Act
Since the Affordable Care Act became law, Republicans in Congress have been trying to overturn it. Now that they have the majority in both houses, it’s expected that they’ll get somewhere with legislation proposing changes to the act. Notably, the Save American Workers Act of 2015 has been put into the ring. The act would restore the traditional 40-hour workweek standard for health benefits under the Affordable Care Act. Obviously, Obama would oppose changes to the Affordable Care Act he wholeheartedly supports, and would veto any bills as such, but it should also be noted that the Congressional Budget Office reported the act would reduce the number of people receiving employment-based coverage by about 1 million.
3. Stiffer Sanctions on Iran
While some argue in favor of placing harsher sanctions on Iran, Obama said in a closed-door meeting that he would veto a bill suggesting such a move. The U.S. is in tenuous negotiations with the country regarding its nuclear policy, and the White House is hesitant to impede those in any way. Opposing such a bill requires Obama to go against his own party. In the aforementioned closed-door meeting, Obama disagreed with one of the bill’s authors, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). The legislation from Menendez and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illi.) would go into effect in June.
4. Reversing his immigration order
Republicans want to see the president’s executive order on immigration, which offered nearly 4 million immigrants with citizen children safety from deportation, reversed. The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act would overturn Obama’s executive actions on immigration and expose hundreds of thousands of younger immigrants to deportation. As such, Obama specifically noted in his State of the Union speech that he’s not interested in “refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got to fix a broken system.” Obama’s initial executive order came in response to Congress immobility on the issue and an immigration crisis that swelled last summer.
5. Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act
This bill would water down the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform, which put banks and Wall Street under the strongest regulations since the Great Depression. This is another one of the bills that Obama specifically called out in his State of the Union address. Repealing parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act would constitute as “unraveling the new rules on Wall Street,” and the president would veto it.
6. Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015
The Regulatory Accountability Act would modify the Administrative Procedure Act, making good on longstanding executive orders regarding regulatory reform, according to Forbes. Even Obama has issued an executive order (E.O. 13565) that urged for cost-saving reform. The Regulatory Accountability Act includes, enhancing regulatory impact analysis and cost benefit analysis, expanding public comment opportunities, limiting agency overuse of difficult-to-challenge “interim final rules,” encouraging selection of least costly rule options, and bringing “guidance documents” under scrutiny paralleling actual rules. Despite Obama’s documented interest in similar reform, according to the White House, “If the President were presented with the Regulatory Accountability Act, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”
7. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
This act would ban most abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. Without bringing it up by name, Obama said in State of the Union address, “We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.” That reinforcement of his commitment to women’s access to health care and support of their reproductive rights makes it clear that such a bill would be vetoed if it landed on the president’s desk.
Update: The Washington Post has reported that House Republicans canceled the January 22 vote on the bill out of concerns for how it would impact the party’s image with female voters.
8. No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act
Another abortion-related act that Obama would veto, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would do, well, exactly what its name says and ban taxpayer funding for abortion. It should be noted that this prohibition is already largely in effect. “I am deeply committed to protecting this core constitutional right, and I believe that efforts like H.R. 7 … would intrude on women’s reproductive freedom and access to health care and unnecessarily restrict the private insurance choices that consumers have today,” Obama said in a statement on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. “The federal government should not be injecting itself into decisions best made between women, their families, and their doctors. ”