President Obama kept his promise to veto the Keystone XL pipeline if Congress approved it; he did, almost. His veto ‘preempted his review of the pipeline’ but he could bypass battling parties and negotiate directly with Canada.
Most experts agree that the pipeline will unlikely offer the extent of environmental danger claimed by Democrats, and Republicans have highly exaggerated its economic benefits. Canada has much more to gain than the United States economically. The Canadian government has lobbied Mr. Obama incessantly to approve Keystone’s construction. He has the power to demand some changes to make the pipeline more environmentally secure before signing an agreement. Such an agreement would assist both Canada and the United States with their poor images regarding efforts to slow down climate change. And finally both parties would survive as winners; Democrats could claim victory concerning environmental protection, and Republicans for progressive action related to the economy.
With Republicans in control of both houses, more vetoes are expected. The next may come soon. Today House Republicans are debating changes to ‘no child left behind.’ They want to remove all control over the education of our children from the federal level, and give states the right to create requirements and curriculum. The White House says that Republicans would allow billions of dollars to flow from the government without accountability. In addition, the changes could be harmful to children with disabilities, low-income families, and minorities. A vote is expected on Friday, and will likely once again be along party lines, as was the case in 2013.
Other vetoes which could come soon include the subject of additional sanctions on Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry is in negotiation with Iranian leaders regarding the nation’s nuclear program. Increasing sanctions on Iran at this time could end discussion.
If John Boehner refuses to remove an amendment to the bill funding the Department of Homeland Security which defunds the President’s executive order giving a legal path to nearly five million illegal residents, Mr. Obama has sworn to veto it.
Republicans in both houses have proposed bills designed to placate the religious right. The ‘Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,’ and the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act’ would both restrict the rights of women, especially low-income women, from obtaining an abortion. They will receive the President’s veto.
House Republicans have voted 56 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. With Republicans now in control of the Senate, it may finally pass and be sent to the President’s desk; it will be vetoed.
Republican leaders John Boehner and Mitch McConnell promised more important legislation would be passed with Republicans in control. It appears that the only thing they continue to do is destroy legislation already intact which was voted for by both houses and signed by Mr. Obama. Where are the ‘new’ ideas? Where is there a sign of progress?
It is apparent that the 114th Congress will follow in the steps of the 112th and 113th. Each has attempted to accomplish less than the other.
Independents, minorities, and women will be the deciding voters in 2016; it appears that the GOP has a lot of work to do.
Commentary by James Turnage