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Posts by Steven Dennis
February 25, 2015
Updated 7:31 p.m. | President Barack Obama’s town hall airing now on Telemundo included a vow to veto any efforts to roll back his immigration executive actions — and warned of consequences for immigration agents who don’t follow his new directives.
With host Jose Diaz-Balart and an audience of 268 people, Obama blamed Republicans for trying to block his efforts to overhaul the immigration system, per the White House pool report.
“Unfortunately a group of Republican governors sued. They found a District Court judge who enjoined… but that’s just the first part of the process. This is just one federal judge. We have appealed it very aggressively. We’re going to be as aggressive as we can,” Obama said, per the White House pool. Full story
February 24, 2015
President Barack Obama has vetoed the Keystone Pipeline bill as promised, using his veto pen for just the third time and the first since 2010.
Obama had repeatedly vowed to veto the bill, one of the first major legislative efforts by Republicans now in charge of both chambers of Congress, citing process. Obama has said the State Department’s years-long review of the project must finish first, and Press Secretary Josh Earnest has left open the possibility Obama could approve it then.
The veto came without public fanfare or a big ceremony.
The Senate received the veto message Tuesday afternoon. Immediately after that, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced on the floor that action in response to the veto would be considered no later than March 3.
Republicans note the project generally fares well in public opinion polls.
And though the project has bipartisan support, it does not have veto-proof majorities of 291 in the House and 67 in the Senate. That means an override vote is certain to fail.
It remains to be seen whether Keystone might become a bargaining chip at some point down the line as Obama faces showdowns with Republicans on any number of issues.
And it almost assuredly won’t be the last veto of the next two years. Obama’s already threatened vetoes on many of the major bills being considered by Republicans so far, including any effort to stop his immigration executive actions.
Although if Senate Democrats continue to act as his de facto veto pen on measures like the DHS funding bill via the filibuster, Obama’s veto pen might not get as big a workout as had been expected.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.
February 20, 2015
The Department of Justice will file for a stay of a District Court ruling blocking President Barack Obama’s immigration actions by Feb. 23, Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Friday.
Earnest repeated what he’s been saying all week: The White House believes the proposals — which would grant deportation relief and work permits for three years to up to 5 million immigrants — are on firm legal footing.
February 19, 2015
Jen Psaki’s heading back to the West Wing.
Replacing Jennifer Palmieri, who is reportedly heading to the nascent Hillary Clinton campaign, the current State Department spokeswoman is no stranger to President Barack Obama, the White House press corps or Capitol Hill. Full story
The latest economic report from the White House is part victory lap, part pitch for enacting what President Barack Obama calls his “middle-class” agenda — including new trade deals with Europe and Asia and the president’s budget.
At a briefing for reporters Wednesday, ahead of Thursday’s release of the Economic Report of the President, chief economic adviser Jason Furman ticked off the statistics that have buoyed White House spirits of late — improving economic growth, the best job performance since 1999 last year and lower gas prices.
But there are several troubling caveats, Furman acknowledged.
The percentage of men in prime working age who have dropped out of the labor force has grown substantially in recent decades and is higher than many competitors. More troubling, the income of middle-class families has been largely flat, although there are recent signs of modest improvement. Median family incomes remain stuck at mid-1990s levels.
“This is the big picture challenge that we’re trying to overcome as an economy,” Furman said. Full story
February 17, 2015
Updated 5:28 p.m. | The third branch of government has entered the immigration debate with a bang — with potentially profound impacts on President Barack Obama’s legacy, the lives of millions and the rest of this Congress.
The decision by a federal district judge in Texas late Monday to temporarily halt Obama’s executive actions on immigration could also give Republicans a way out of a shutdown showdown over funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Full story
February 11, 2015
For the first time this decade, Congress is set to have a full-fledged war debate. The White House wants pure kabuki with no practical effect; lawmakers, most of whom have never voted to send men and women into harm’s way, will have to choose whether to go along.
President Barack Obama is intent on doing what he wants either way — as he already has in his undeclared war on the Islamic State terror group for months, with Congress on the sidelines. Full story
February 9, 2015
Updated 2:04 p.m. | President Barack Obama zinged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday.
The press corps chuckled when Obama suggested Merkel wouldn’t have been a part of trying to get a meeting two weeks before her election, a nod to the timing of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress later this year.
“As much as I love Angela, if she was two weeks away from an election, she probably would not have received an invitation to the White House, and I suspect she wouldn’t have asked for one,” Obama said, getting a smile out of Merkel.
February 5, 2015
For years, President Barack Obama has made a demand Republican leaders would not accept: He would only replace automatic spending cuts with a package that included a tax increase.
Obama himself made very real threats on the subject that amounted to no revenue, no deal.
That lasted through the failed supercommittee in 2011, was repeated on New Year’s Eve 2012 as the deal came together to avert the fiscal cliff, and held through the imposition of the sequester in March of 2013. But Obama’s stance started to crack when Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., cut their modest, two-year budget agreement in December 2013. Full story
February 2, 2015
Updated 12:55 p.m. | President Barack Obama’s opening salvo in this year’s budget wars with the new Republican Congress aims to shift the conversation away from four years of austerity. He received a predictably frosty reception.
Obama’s $4.066 trillion budget would unshackle discretionary spending from the legislative tourniquet known as the sequester. That allows about a 7 percent increase in defense and domestic discretionary programs — or $74 billion. Full story