President Obama’s Veto Threats are at Record Pace to Begin New Congress

President Obama (Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)
President Obama (Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)

The Obama White House has threatened to veto eight bills taken up by the Republican House in January — the most veto threats to begin a new Congress since the Reagan White House first started issuing formal veto threats in 1985.

The spurt of veto threats has rankled congressional Republicans, who say that President Obama isn’t giving bipartisanship a chance. But the White House blames Republicans, saying they’re bringing up bills they already know he opposes.

Whoever’s at fault, the amount of veto brinksmanship appears to be at a modern high. Counting a verbal veto threat on an Iran sanctions bill that hasn’t been drafted yet, Obama’s veto threat count so far this year rises to nine. By comparison, Reagan issued five veto threats by this point in 1987, but those threats were on different versions of just two bills.

Until now, Obama had been relatively restrained in his use of vetoes and veto threats. Working with a Democratic-controlled Congress, Obama spent the first 17 months of his presidency without issuing a single veto threat, before using it on a Republican-sponsored bill on greenhouse gas emissions.

His 148 veto threats in his first six years had been the fewest of any president since Reagan. And he’s vetoed just two bills, the fewest of any president since James Garfield’s assassination-shortened 199-day term in 1881.

So the spurt of veto threats may bode poorly for bipartisan cooperation as Obama faces a Republican-controlled Congress for the first time in his presidency.

Congressional Republicans say the veto threats are sabotaging any chance of bipartisanship. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he confronted Obama about his veto threats at a meeting at the White House two weeks ago.

“He starts off how he wants to work together. I said, ‘Mr, President, you’ve already issued five veto threats. If you want to work together, why not let the legislative process play out?’ ” McCarthy said. “The president really couldn’t answer me when I called him on it.”

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SOURCE: Gregory Korte

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