The ink had no sooner dried on the paperwork ushering in the new 114th Congress than for President Barack Obama to threaten the use of his veto pen to kill three key pieces of legislation that drove millions of voters to the ballot box on Election Day – voters who rebuked the very policies that Obama said were on the ballot.
The three named veto threat bills are:
- Changes to the ObamaCare law to repeal the medical device tax and upping the full time work week up to 40 hours,
- Clearing the way for the Keystone XL oil pipeline that would make America more energy independent, create tens of thousands of permanent well-paying jobs and revitalize the Louisiana industry, And;
- Repealing provisions of a 2010 financial regulation law pushed through Congress by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA and Sen. Chris Dodd D-CT – two lame ducks who retired from Congress in 2010.
And while it is clear that President Obama plans to make good on his veto threats, it is not at all clear whether he has lost so much clout with Congress that his vetoes would be overridden by a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate.
The question on everyone’s mind is: Would a presidential veto on Keystone be overturned – a distinct possibility considering more than 70% of voters in a recent poll voice their support for the pipeline.
One possible defector in the Democratic ranks is Sen, Joe Manchin (D-WV) who represents a state heavily dependent on coal, another part of the energy sector bound up in the Keystone XL pipeline legislation.
When Sen. Manchin learned of the president’s pre-emptive veto threat on the Keystone bill he said, “It’s just wrong. It’s just not the way you do business. If this is the start of things, it is a sad beginning.”
Even Obama stalwart Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) – who just won a fourth term in the Senate – said that the Keystone… veto threats were “unusual” as little time has been given to allow for debate. Durbin added:
“It is unusual for him to do it in advance but I think it’s because these are not new issues and the gravity of both of these issues go directly to whether or not we are going to have a confrontational relationship with the Congress and White House”.
Further evidence of a Keystone veto override in Congress is the fact that a nearly identical energy bill passed the House last year with support from 31 Democrats.
The 1,200-mile pipeline would begin in Canada and run through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska. There it would connect to existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.
It is worth noting that early in his presidency and in an unguarded moment, President Obama said that he wouldn’t stop coal-fired power plants from being built but would use his regulatory powers to make them unprofitable.