Senate GOP defiant after veto threats

Senate GOP defiant after veto threats
© Greg Nash

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 McConnellTrump flirts with Dems for Cabinet Lawmakers eye early exit from Washington Confirm Scott Palk for the Western District of Oklahoma 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.

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"The takeaway is that the president is not going to set the agenda for us here in the Senate. We have an agenda we believe can help save and create jobs for Americans,” McConnell said.

"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 CornynLawmakers eye early exit from Washington Victims of Nazi Art theft need Congress to HEAR Overnight Cybersecurity: Last-ditch effort to stop expanded hacking powers fails 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 ThuneFight breaks out at FCC over 'zero-rating' data plans A political temper tantrum at the FCC Overnight Tech: Lawmakers look at US edge in artificial intelligence | Walden favored for Energy, Commerce gavel | Tech reaches out to Trump 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 WickerMarijuana backers worry over AG Sessions Gardner's chief of staff tapped for Senate GOP campaign director GOP braces for Trump’s T infrastructure push MORE (R-Miss.) said.

That’s something Senate Minority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinLawmakers eye early exit from Washington Senators crafting bill to limit deportations under Trump Warren pushes Dems to get tough with Trump 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.”