By Justin Sink
The White House will be “picking up the pace on executive actions,” as Congress focuses its efforts on the newly formed select committee investigating Benghazi, senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer declared Tuesday.
In an op-ed for The Huffington Post, Pfeiffer argued that congressional Republicans are not interested in engaging on the economy, instead spending time “obsessively trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act” and “ginning up politically motivated investigations.”
“Given this dynamic, President Obama has only one option — use every ounce of his authority to unilaterally improve economic security,” Pfeiffer said.
The White House has dismissed the select committee investigating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, announced earlier this month by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as redundant and politically motivated. Republicans have argued that the special panel was necessary after the release of a previously undisclosed email from White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes showing involvement in drafting then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's infamous talking points.
The veteran White House aide did not detail exactly how the president would exert his executive authorities in the coming days, although Obama is expected to take at least two major actions on the environment.
On Wednesday, Obama is slated to designate the largest national monument of his presidency in the mountains of New Mexico. And Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy hinted Monday that the president would personally present new carbon emissions limits on coal-fired power plants. The White House has said that announcement would come in early June.
The president will also travel to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Thursday, Pfeiffer said, “to make it easier for foreign tourists to see more and spend more money in our country.”
“We have many more executive actions to come, and every day the president has charged us with looking for additional ways to expand opportunity,” Pfeiffer said.
The accelerated focus on executive actions might further complicate efforts to pass major legislation on Capitol Hill before the summer recess, however.
House Republicans have said that the president’s willingness to act unilaterally is a core reason they’re reluctant to move on immigration reform legislation — one area where the White House has conceded that executive actions alone aren’t enough.
Earlier this year, Boehner warned that if Obama “tries to ignore” the Constitution, “he’s going to run into a brick wall.”
“House Republicans will continue to look closely at whether the president is faithfully executing the laws — as he took an oath to do," Boehner said.