White House: Obama could go around Congress
Advisers preview State of the Union
President Obama will work with Congress where he can and circumvent lawmakers where he must, his top advisers warned yesterday in previewing tomorrow’s State of the Union speech.
Obama faces a politically divided Congress tomorrow and will use his annual address to demand expanded economic opportunity. Absent legislative action, the White House is telling lawmakers that the president is ready to take unilateral action to close the gap between rich and poor Americans.
“I think the way we have to think about this year is we have a divided government,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a longtime Obama adviser. “The Republican Congress is not going to rubber-stamp the president’s agenda. The president is not going to sign the Republican Congress’s agenda.”
So the White House is considering compromise on some priorities, Obama advisers said. But the president is also looking at executive orders that can be enacted without Congress’s approval.
“The president sees this as a year of action to work with Congress where he can and to bypass Congress where necessary,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
The act-or-else posture bristled Republicans.
“The president has sort of hung out on the left and tried to get what he wants through the bureaucracy as opposed to moving to the political center,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the GOP Senate leader.
With campaigns for November’s election on the horizon, there’s scant reason for the White House to be optimistic about Republican support for measures to revive a bipartisan immigration bill that has passed the Senate, an increased minimum wage or expanding prekindergarten programs.
Republicans looking to wrest control of the Senate and keep their majority in the House instead want to keep the focus on the struggling economy and Obama’s stewardship of it.