WASHINGTON, January 17, 2015 — The 114th Congress be damned, President Obama and congressional Democrats are showing that they will not be pushed around by republicans. PoliticusUSA reports that Obama has met with congressional Democrats to assure them that he will defend the Democratic agenda against an expected Republican onslaught.
Obama promises that his last two years will not be spent as a lame-duck and that he will continue to use executive actions to implement his agenda, even if it enrages Republicans, who characterize his use of executive power as unilateralist. That’s especially the case with immigration, where Republicans have called Obama’s efforts an unconstitutional power grab.
Several sources that attended the meeting told Politico:
“Obama vowed to defend his agenda against Republicans in Congress, promised to stand firm against GOP efforts to dismantle his agenda and called on his Democratic colleagues to help sustain his expected vetoes.”
“I’m not going to spend the next two years on defense; I’m going to play offense,” Obama said, according to two attendees speaking to Politico.
One area of complexity is that a number of Democrats do not agree with the President on sanctions against Iran. The President has expressed strong opposition to an Iran sanctions bill, promising to veto legislation that Congress passes while his administration is in the midst of multilateral nuclear negotiations with the Middle Eastern regime.
Proving that a sitting president is always a force to be reckoned with, barely two weeks into the new year and the new congress, Obama has taken executive action on climate change, immigration, expanding sick leave for federal employees, and easing sanctions against Cuba. House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seem fumble-footed by comparison, unable to match Obama’s policy boldness.
Still on the President’s agenda is net neutrality.
The President has had little choice and little to lose in taking executive action. He has also shown that a divide-and-conquer strategy by McConnell and Boehner against Democrats will not work. By using executive action to push immigration and Cuba reform though, Obama has divided Republicans before Republicans could split Democrats.
Democrats lay the blame for Obama’s actions at the feet of Republican leaders, who instead of finding areas of legislative agreement with the President have instead chosen to attack Obamacare. They also continue to push the Keystone XL pipeline. The president has said clearly that he will veto any attempt to repeal his signature legislative achievement or to push the pipeline forward.
By taking action on issues like immigration and Cuba, Obama has beat Republican leaders to the punch. President Obama divided Republicans before they could split the Democrats.