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
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
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