By Sam Youngman - 11/01/10 12:50 AM EDT
President Obama is ready to flex some muscle by using the veto pen if Republicans win back a majority in the House.
Democrats and White House aides said that Obama is prepared to wield his veto pen and effectively stare down Republicans should they have a successful Election Day.
The president has not vetoed any legislation during his time in office with a Democratic majority, though he did pocket veto two bills with little fanfare.
He also has been emphasizing a spirit of cooperation. Obama has said repeatedly in interviews leading up to the election that he sees a number of areas of “common ground” on which he and Republicans can work together.
Some political observers believe the White House and GOP could find a few areas of agreement on certain policies, such as trade or education.
But already would-be leaders of a GOP House like Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have signaled that they will not compromise with Obama. House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has reassured conservatives that Republicans will not be in a mood to compromise, while in the Senate, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he will work to ensure Obama is a one-term president.
Larry Berman, an expert on the presidency and a political science professor at the University of California-Davis, said he expects Obama to use the veto to show Republicans that he is still in charge.
“He’s likely to adopt the Western Union approach to using the veto, that is, sending a message to the new political opposition that this president still has game,” Berman said.
One Democratic official said that the presidential power to block passed laws will give the president a great deal of power to showcase where he stands versus his Republican adversaries.
“The veto is the sharpest arrow that President Obama has yet to draw from his quiver," the official said. "When he uses it, he'll be able to draw the sharpest contrast yet between his priorities and the agenda of a Republican-led congress."
There are some signs that White House officials are reluctant to repeatedly veto legislation.
At a recent New York City fundraiser for Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), Vice President Biden warned Democrats that the last resort of a veto is a "bad thing" for the White House.
"If we lose in the House or the Senate, we’re now in a position where we are in a stalemate and this thing is just going to go in reverse and our most powerful weapon will be a veto pen, and that’s bad," Biden said.
It’s also possible that Obama will not get many chances to veto legislation.
If Democrats hold on to the Senate, Obama’s allies could bottle up legislation sent from a Republican House, if the GOP is successful in taking over that chamber. Even if the GOP wins control of both chambers, its Senate majority would be thin, making it difficult to attain the 60 votes necessary to win procedural motions.