Obama issues 3 veto threats in 2 days

by DAVID ESPO and NEDRA PICKLER  |  published on January 8, 2015

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The White House threatened more vetoes Wednesday against top-priority legislation of the two-day-old Republican-controlled Congress, and GOP leaders said they intend to keep challenging President Barack Obama to sign early measures that demonstrate bipartisan support.

“We’re calling on the president to ignore the voices of reaction and join us,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said as he and Speaker John Boehner lined up legislation to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, make changes to the health care law they also have vowed to repeal, and delay a key provision of a 2010 financial regulation law.

The conflict comes at a time when the president and the two Republican congressional leaders have all stressed the opportunity for bipartisanship in the two years ahead, and polls generally indicate the public wants divided government to produce compromise instead of gridlock. By approving measures with bipartisan support — the pipeline legislation has well over 60 supporters from both parties in the Senate — it appears Republicans are trying to make the president pay at least a short-term political price if he makes good on his veto threats.

Far larger and more partisan fights likely lie ahead, particularly if, as expected, Republicans attempt to seek large savings in government benefit programs as part of an attempt to balance the budget.

One day after saying Obama would reject the pipeline bill, the White House said he would veto legislation to make a change in the health care law he signed into law four years ago.

In a written veto threat, the administration said the measure “would significantly increase the deficit, reduce the number of Americans with employer-based health insurance coverage, and create incentives for employers to shift their employees to part-time work – causing the problem it intends to solve.”

The measure would increase the definition of a full-time worker who must be offered health coverage at work to 40 hours from the current 30.

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