Tags: Barack Obama | Senate | midterms | GOP | Obama | compromise

White House Preparing for GOP Senate Takeover

By    |   Monday, 27 October 2014 09:03 AM

As Democrats face the likelihood that they will lose control of the Senate in the midterm elections, the White House is already considering ways it will work with the Republican majority to continue to push forward the president's agenda, according to Politico.

A number of top issues are being considered as areas for forging deals: tax reform, infrastructure, sentencing reform, unemployment insurance renewal, a minimum wage hike, and expanding early childhood education.

"When we have divided government, that's when we've done tax reform, that's when we've done entitlement reform, that's when we've helped to move the economy forward when we take on these issues," Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman told Politico.

According to Politico, he has already been part of several conversations with the White House.

Cooperation would be a welcome break in the gridlock and partisan stalemates, enabling the president to make meaningful progress in his final two years in office.

There are those in the White House, however, who dismiss the likelihood that Republicans would engage in constructive cooperation, noting that any legislation that makes it to the floor will be vetted by presumed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who would be unlikely to hand victories to the president.

Collaboration with the White House could also put Republicans in jeopardy of challenges from the right in the next primary season, Politico reported.

Other pundits are also pouring cold water over the possibility of compromise. With Republicans in control, they say, there will be two more years of gridlock and partisan infighting.

For their part, Republicans insist that the gridlock to date has been caused by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, and that if they take the helm, there will be significant progress on issues such as trade, infrastructure spending, sentencing reform, and possibly tax reform.

"In a Republican Senate, the difference would be the president would actually have to make the decision whether to sign or veto bills that would be presented to him — because more would actually be sent his way," Don Stewart, McConnell's spokesman, told Politico.

McConnell has also said that he would consider allowing Democrats to offer amendments on bills.

"In a situation where there was actually an opportunity for debate and amendments, you'd have bills getting passed and Democrats joining Republicans on legislation that you don't have now," Stewart said.

Some of the president's priorities, however, do not have a chance of succeeding in a Republican-controlled Congress.

Obama's pledge to close Guantanamo Bay before his departure cannot happen without congressional approval, though there are reports that he is considering using an executive order to override Congress.

Democrats outside the Beltway, meanwhile, would not look kindly on compromise with Republicans. In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, they are likely to want to demonstrate that Republicans are obstructionist and out-of-step, Politico reported.

Democrats also would want to ensure that Republicans cannot take credit for any progress that is made by the president in his final years in office.

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As Democrats face the likelihood of losing control of the Senate in the midterm elections, the White House is already considering ways it will work with the Republican majority to push forward the president's agenda.
Senate, midterms, GOP, Obama, compromise
Monday, 27 October 2014 09:03 AM
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