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Republicans ignore veto threats, attack Obama agenda

14 January 2015, 10:58

Washington - Defiant congressional Republicans attacked President Barack Obama's agenda from all sides on Tuesday, ignoring veto threats and pushing bills to uproot his policies on immigration and Wall Street and force approval of energy pipeline legislation he opposes.

Obama invited Republican leaders to the White House for their first face-to-face meeting since the new Republican-controlled Congress convened. But their show of cordiality for the cameras did little to mask the partisan hostilities between Capitol Hill and the White House.

"The key now is for us to work as a team," said Obama, who has issued five veto threats with the new Congress not yet two weeks old. He cited taxes, trade and cybersecurity as areas for potential co-operation. He also told lawmakers he would work with them to come up with a proposal to authorise military force against the Islamic State group.

Keystone, immigration

Back at the Capitol, the Senate debated legislation to force the administration to allow construction of the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline. The bill passed the House of Representatives last week and is expected to clear the Senate next week and head to Obama's desk.

In addition, a vote on Wednesday would block Obama's executive actions on immigration. One amendment would undo steps to allow deportation reprieves and work permits to four million immigrants in the country illegally. Another would nullify Obama's 2012 action to allow more than 600 000 immigrants brought illegally to the country as children to stay and work here legally.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest scolded Republican lawmakers, saying their approach to the opening days of the new Congress raises questions "about how serious they are about trying to work with the president".

Republicans had no plans to stop there.

Citing the terrorist attacks in Paris, Republican senators on Tuesday proposed restrictions on Obama's ability to transfer terror suspects out of the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the remainder of his term - making it more difficult for Obama to fulfil his goal of closing the facility.

"Now is not the time to be emptying Guantanamo," Senator Kelly Ayotte told reporters.

The House also moved forward on a series of bills that face an uncertain future in the Senate, where Republicans remain six vote shorts of the 60-vote majority needed to advance most issues.

- AP


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