President Barack Obama is preparing to stretch, crick his neck, flex his fingers, and put his veto power to use in the coming days, weeks, and months. Now that elections are over and the majority in the Senate has made for a two-house Republican majority Congress and the Obama Administration appear to be preparing for a whole new level of gridlock.
Following the end of midterm battles, Obama chose to enact immigration reform on his end, despite warnings from members of Congress. Now, it’s the president’s turn to make threats and statements of disapproval abundantly clear with intentions to veto two policy initiatives Republicans are looking to act on and have pushed in the past.
Affordable Care Act
“The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 2667 and H.R. 2668,” reads a Statement of Administration Policy from the Executive Office of the President. One has passed the house, and one is headed there on Wednesday, where it may pass. The Senate is less likely to find the votes to pass either though, but even if Republicans manage to get it through the statement makes it clear it won’t go past Obama’s desk. The statement suggests that 2667 is “unnecessary,” while 2668 “would raise health insurance premiums and increase the number of uninsured Americans.”
Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) argues that the Mandate Delay Act (2667) will prevent the employer mandate of Obamacare from “forcing small businesses to cut hours and hold back hiring.”
Perhaps the most vehement and frustrated take-away from the White House statement came at the beginning of the page: “Rather than attempting once again to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the House has tried nearly 40 times, it’s time for the Congress to stop fighting old political battles,” or maybe the most salient bit was at the end: “If the president were presented with H.R. 2667 and H.R. 2668, he would veto them.”
Keystone XL pipeline
Prior to the introduction of the Keystone pipeline bill, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest hinted Obama would be unlikely to look kindly on it — though he withheld full comment until the language was seen. Specifically he referenced climate change concerns and the fact that the president believed the effect on gas prices would be “nominal.” In a more recent press conference his language was far more clear cut.
“If this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn’t sign it,” said Earnest, according to the Washington Post, noting that this position is hardly new, but rather is consistent with past policy which was very similar and which he opposed publicly. Boehner commented in direct opposition to this, claiming that “Today, President Obama was finally straight with [the American people] about where he stands” on the Keystone XL pipeline.
While his argument that Obama stands in opposition to many who support the pipeline is accurate, it’s hardly arguable that the president has been unclear about his stance. The issue of a pending lawsuit in Nebraska is also standing in the way as to whether or not the state government has control or Congress can step in — an unusual butting of heads for Republicans with state’s rights. Boehner said that Obama’s “answer is no — no to more American infrastructure, no to more American energy, and no to more American jobs.”
The validity of this statement is one that has been argued on both sides for some time. Critics of the pipeline argue that permanent job creation would be negligible and that short-term work would be more common.
Republicans argue that short-term work is still noteworthy given how much of the available work in America is short-term. The energy argument is multifaceted and complex; gas price changes may indeed be “nominal” in the long term, and renewable energy is arguably extremely important for the energy industry to move forward. Given the pipeline built so far, infrastructure has indeed been put in place — it’s simply this specific piece that’s seen such intense roadblocks — not that others didn’t in the past.
“There is already a well established process in place” for deciding whether or not to continue construction, said Earnest, adding that he believes “the president has been pretty clear that he does not think that circumventing a well-established process for evaluating these projects is … the right thing for Congress to do.”
Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS
More from Politics Cheat Sheet:
- Keystone XL and the Job Argument That Gives Congress a Headache
- Obama to Issue Landmark Regulations While Oil Industry Is Down
- Keystone: Won’t Save Landrieu, Won’t Heal Washington
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