by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
During his final months in office, President Obama seems to have little interest in negotiating with Congress. At least that’s the impression his recent actions have left on Nicole Duran of the Washington Examiner.
After spending months and, in the case of gun control legislation, years calling for change, President Obama is leaving it up to congressional Democrats to duke it out with the GOP on some major issues while he relies on the bully pulpit instead of engaging lawmakers personally.
Obama pushed hard in 2013 to tighten gun laws after 20 school children were shot in December 2012 in Newton, Conn., issuing 23 executive orders and three presidential memos. But most actions, such as renewing the lapsed federal ban on assault rifles, required congressional approval, which Republicans refused to grant.
He signaled his current approach to the gun safety debate last June after nine people were shot dead in a black church in Charleston, S.C.
“At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,” Obama said then. “I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now … and at some point it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it.”
Four months ago, he asked Congress for $1.9 billion to combat the Zika virus, but quickly hit the conservative wall. He put top administration figures before congressional panels and had them respond to numerous GOP requests for additional information and details. Failing that, the White House used props and briefings to keep the issue front and center.
But as both issues reached a boiling point on the Hill last week, the White House merely cheered on cheeky House Democrats who staged a floor protest and chastised Republicans for their intransigence from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.