It’s a lot harder to govern than it is to obstruct. That is what the newly crowned Republican majority is quickly learning.
Republicans figured that with their sweeping congressional victory in November and a lame duck president in the White House they would have smooth sailing on their journey to dismantle the president’s agenda. Yesterday they ran into troubled waters.
The day started with the president vetoing the bill authorizing the construction of the Keystone pipeline. Conservatives had been pushing for the pipeline since the early days of the Obama administration, but the bill could never get past Senate Democrats. As soon as voters handed Republicans the keys to congress Keystone was one of the first bills to reach the floor. The president had promised to veto any bill authorizing construction until the environmental studies had been completed and assessed. Republicans passed the bill anyway; daring the president to veto a project that would allegedly produce 42,000 temporary construction jobs. The president didn’t blink and quickly threw it back into their laps. Score one for the president.
Things got even worse for conservatives when Mitch McConnell announced that he was throwing Speaker Boehner under the bus on the funding of the Department of Homeland Security. The initial plan was to pass a bill that funded the DHS except for those provisions that implemented the president’s initiatives on immigration reform. The idea was to send the bill to the White House and let the president decide between two bad choices: pass the bill and torpedo his immigration reform efforts or veto the bill and shut down the DHS. But McConnell realized that Republicans would take the brunt of the blame either way and wisely decided to pull the plug. McConnell announced that the Senate would pass two bills: a clean bill to fund the DHS and a separate bill on the president’s immigration initiatives. That puts the burden squarely on the shoulders of Boehner and House Republicans. They can join the Senate and keep the country safe or they can be the dysfunctional gaggle that put partisan politics ahead of national security. Obama leads 2-0.
Add the news that later in the day Republicans conceded to the president on internet neutrality and you have a 3-0 shutout.
This president may be a lame duck but there is little doubt that he intends to go down swinging.