Republicans may have traditionally served as the biggest roadblock to the president's legislative plans, but Democrats are also emerging as a significant obstacle to President Barack Obama's agenda on a range of issues, The New York Times reported
While congressional Republicans continue to be focused on rolling back Obama's executive orders and action, Democrats are putting up resistance that the White House must also overcome.
Specifically, it's the Democrats that appear to be taking issue with the Authorization for the Use of Military Force to fight the Islamic State. Democrats are also likely to stand by Republicans on a measure that would give Congress the power to review any Iran deal
that emerges from negotiations, and another bill that would impose tougher sanctions.
Changes to the National Security Agency's surveillance program may also get push-back from Democrats who nonetheless want to see reforms. And Democrats are not on board with a number of Obama's trade proposals.
The single area of agreement between Democrats and the White House appears to be Obama's "middle class" economic agenda which he outlined in his State of the Union Address but which has little chance of advance through a Republican-controlled Congress.
"Overall, on economic issues, we pretty much walk in lock step," New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer told the Times. But on other issues, "he needs an amalgam."
The White House says that Obama's divergence from his own party is a sign of strength.
"[Obama's] willingness to put forward ideas that some in his party disagree with isn't a sign of weakness," said Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, according to the Times.
"In fact, it's a sign of strength and evidence that he'll work with anyone on either side of the aisle to keep the country safe and expand opportunity for the middle class."
The Times said that the predicament for the president is not unusual given the stage of his presidency: he is trying to create a legacy while Democrats may be more concerned with self-preservation.
But others say the divisions are a matter of the issues the president has chosen to champion.
"I don't think it's a function of his last two years in office," Maine Independent Sen. Angus King told the Times. "I think it's a function of the issues. I try to take it an issue at a time. That's one of the advantages of where I am."
Democrats appear to oppose Obama's plan to secure the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that would corral a dozen nations into lowering tariffs while introducing new regulations and labor and environmental standards.
Many Democrats oppose the deal because they feel the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement cost thousands of American jobs and continues to have a downward effect on wages, the Times reported.
"We have been told for years that these things will benefit the economy, and I am not sure it is true," Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey who is among at least a half-dozen Senate Democrats opposing the agreement, told the Times. "I think the administration knows where people like me are."
Meanwhile, in the House, a large number of Democrats are on the side of Republicans who oppose legislation that would give the president "fast-track" authority to negotiate trade treaties that would prevent Congress from amending, the Times reported.
"There is no earthy reason to take congressional authority out of trade bills," New York Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter told the Times. "I represent the people of the 25th District of New York. I like having a Democratic president, but I don't agree with him on this."
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