In his final press conference of the year, President Barack Obama indicated that he plans to take on the new Republican-led Senate from the outset by rejecting plans to construct the Keystone XL pipeline.
"I think that there’s been this tendency to really hype this thing as some magic formula to what ails the U.S. economy, and it’s hard to see on paper where exactly they’re getting that information from," Obama said when asked if he what he plans to do when Republicans introduce legislation
to authorize the project.
The Keystone XL is one of the issues over which the White House and the Republican Congress likely will find themselves at loggerheads, which could mean another congressional session with little legislative accomplishments.
The 113th Congress ended with the fewest bills passed since 1947 and 1948, reports The Associated Press
In the last two years, Congress moved just over 200 bills to Obama's desk for signature.
In addition to Keystone, Republicans will return to Capitol Hill in January ready to challenge the latest of a growing number of executive actions issued by Obama — normalizing ties with Cuba.
One of the ways in which the GOP will attempt to stymie Obama's plans on Cuba is to refuse to fund certain programs and by blocking any nominations in the Senate, reports The Wall Street Journal
"If you’re being offered the ambassadorship to Cuba, turn it down because you have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting confirmed," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Despite the obvious battles that await on immigration, energy, Obamacare and Cuba, some believe Republicans have an opportunity to move legislation if they set a "bipartisan tone" in the next Congress.
"The GOP should set a bipartisan tone by taking these bills up again, starting with measures to help the economy. For example, this past session 158 House Democrats voted for a GOP measure expanding access to charter schools. Another 130 House Democrats backed a Republican bill to end the expensive wave of junk lawsuits over patents," GOP strategist Karl Rove
wrote recently in The Journal.
Perhaps signaling his understanding that messaging is key to moving the GOP agenda forward, House Speaker John Boehner announced that he has elevated Cory Fritz, who led Boehner's communications team for the last four years, to the role of press secretary, reports Politico
"I am thrilled that Cory will be working full time to help us hold President Obama accountable next year," Boehner said in a statement. "He’s been a smart, sharp, and dogged member of our political team, and he’ll bring that same focus to bear on dealing with the White House press."
Fritz will concentrate on building relations with the White House press corps.
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