President Obama told congressional Democrats in a closed door meeting that he planned to continue going on offense. The president vowed to defend the Democratic agenda and called on the members of his party to help sustain his vetoes.
Politico spoke to Democratic attendees at the closed door session:
According to several sources at the Thursday summit in Baltimore, 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. The president also was explicit about his opposition to an Iran sanctions bill, promising to veto legislation as his administration is in the midst of multilateral nuclear negotiations with the Middle Eastern regime.
Even though Obama’s position on Iran sanctions differs from that of a number of powerful Democrats, the session, several sources said, was more pep rally than confrontation. Despite his lame-duck status, the president promised that he would not sit on the sidelines in the next two years. He vowed more executive actions to implement his agenda, something bound to provoke anger from Republicans who have called the president’s unilateral moves, particularly on immigration, unconstitutional power grabs.
“I’m not going to spend the next two years on defense; I’m going to play offense,” Obama said, according to two attendees.
Democrats have already seen President Obama put action behind these words. The president quickly seized momentum away from Boehner and McConnell with executive actions on climate change, immigration, and Cuba. The president has also taken executive action to expand sick leave for federal employees, and has taken a strong position on net neutrality.
Those who feel that the president has reached the limit of what he can do on his own are engaging in some wishful thinking. Because Republicans have chosen to provoke confrontations with President Obama via their legislative choices, the president has become the central figure in the legislative process. McConnell and Boehner could have decided to pass legislation that there was a chance that the president would sign. Instead, they chose to attack Obamacare and push the Keystone XL pipeline. These are two issues that Obama was certain to veto, and Democrats were likely to stand with him to sustain his vetoes.
The president’s remarks confirm that Obama and congressional Democrats are on the same page and that they are not going to sit back and let Republicans do whatever they want.
Boehner and McConnell thought that they could use a divide and conquer strategy to get their agenda passed into law. By taking action on issues like immigration and Cuba, the president beat the Republican leaders to the punch. President Obama divided Republicans before they could split the Democrats.
Democrats are once again unified, This is why Republicans are on the defensive, and President Obama is setting the agenda.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association