Senate Republicans were defiant Wednesday in the face of multiple veto threats from President Obama for the bills at the top of their legislative agenda.
"It seems with every new day we have a new veto threat from the president," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSanders set for clash with Trump’s budget pick Cabinet picks boost 2018 Dems Overnight Finance: Trump takes US out of Pacific trade deal | WH says Trump has left his businesses | Lobbyists expect boom times MORE (R-Ky.) said.
The Obama administration issued formal veto threats for bills that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline and raise the threshold for defining full-time work under ObamaCare from 30 to 40 hours per work. Senate Republicans are working to bring both bills to the floor, perhaps as early as next week.
"If the president wants to be a part of that he can sign a bill that will make it to his desk, and if he doesn’t, I am sure he will make his best effort to explain to the American people why these measures are not in the best interest of the country.”
The White House and the new Senate Republican majority collided within hours of the start of the new, 114th Congress on Tuesday, with the bickering carrying over into Wednesday's work.
Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynTrump continues to insist voter fraud robbed him of popular vote Trump hosts Hill leaders for ice breaker Trump's CIA chief clears Senate MORE (R-Texas) called the threats from Obama "petty gamesmanship" and said Republicans would not "take the bait."
"On one hand he says he wants to work with the majority in the Senate, on the other he is issuing premature veto threats before the legislation he says he is going to veto is voted out of committee and considered by the Senate and House," Cornyn said.
Sen. John ThuneJohn ThuneSanders set for clash with Trump’s budget pick Overnight Tech: Uber, AT&T beef up lobbying | Pai is new FCC chairman | Skype coming to WH briefings | iPhone maker floats B US factory Trump, GOP set to battle on spending cuts MORE (R-S.D.) said the move to reject legislation before votes are held was a failure on Obama's part.
"The president has failed his first big test when it comes to working with the Congress for the American people," Thune said.
Republicans have vowed a return to regular order under their Senate majority, and McConnell has said he will allow an open amendment process when he brings the Keystone XL bill to the floor as early as next week.
"This is a new day in the United States Senate ... part of that is regular order," Sen. Roger WickerRoger WickerTrump, GOP set to battle on spending cuts Senate confirms first nominees of Trump era Senate gears up for battle over Trump's CIA pick MORE (R-Miss.) said.
That’s something Senate Minority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinJustice requires higher standard than Sessions Warren burns Mnuchin over failure to disclose assets Trump Treasury pick to defend foreclosure record MORE (D-Ill.) is excited about.
While Durbin is against both the Keystone XL pipeline and altering the 30-hour workweek definition under ObamaCare, he said he does "look forward" to the debate over amendments.
"I look forward to it because 31 of the 46 Democratic senators have never been in the minority. They are now going to be introduced to an amendment process that they are not familiar with," Durbin said.
"They are going to learn a lot: about the Senate, about themselves and about the dynamics of floor activity. I look forward to it, I've been anxious to return to this.”