President Obama wasted no time showing his defiance following the election night slaughter of Democrats. He charged out Wednesday morning to declare he had no intention of signing a Republican bill to overturn his signature healthcare legislation (Obamacare) but would be willing to work with the GOP on other issues.
Although there has been no discussion on the subject following the election, the president wanted to take a stand after his party suffered one of the single biggest one-sided elections in history. Whether or not Obama plans to fight, or perhaps compromise parts of the Obamacare law, his ire was evident just hours after the humiliating defeat.
As the president said, “On healthcare, there are certainly some lines I’m going to draw. Repeal of the law I won’t sign,” he said at a hastily-called White House press conference. He went on to say he would resist efforts to weaken the law piecemeal, as he suspects the Republicans will do now emboldened with a stunning victory.
The press conference was almost surreal with the President of the United States providing a defiance that appeared shallow considering the Republicans had just taken the Senate majority and added to their majority in the House. However, a glimmer of compromise was provided when the president lamented he would not be adverse to “responsible changes” to “make it work better. There’s no law that has ever been passed that is perfect.”
Shortly before Obama’s press conference, the new Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, made his feelings known on the subject saying, “If I had the ability, obviously I’d get rid of it. It’s no secret that every one of my members thinks Obamacare was a huge legislative mistake.”
The first few months after the Republicans take control of the Senate will be critical to establishing what they promised – a new order. McConnell is fully aware of the need for Republican unity and the ability to attract allies from across the aisle. The new majority leader said he would attempt to take out some of the more damaging parts of Obamacare “that are tremendously unpopular with the American people.”
Obamacare aside, one of the first tests could be a bill to approve the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline from Canada, that has been stalled for years by the Obama administration. Republican Senator John Hoeven said in an interview on Wednesday that he has enough votes to pass a bill early in 2015 that would approve TransCanada’s long-languishing $8 billion pipeline project.
It will be the first sign that gridlock is coming apart in Washington. Obama said at his news conference he would let the State Department-run process on Keystone play out. In actuality, there is nothing to “play out,” but rather the votes that are now there to pass it.
It is no secret the Canadians supplying the oil are ecstatic about the election results. Energy markets look to the Republicans to lead the reform of crude and natural gas export laws and motivate the Obama administration to include those energy exports in new, or broader, trade agreements. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out now that the political environment has changed so dramatically.