Bracing to do business with a Congress run solely by Republicans, President Barack Obama is serving notice he has no qualms about vetoing legislation he dislikes.
This would be a significant change in style for Obama, come January when the new Congress will be seated with the GOP not only in command in the House but also the Senate as well.
He’s wielded the veto pen through his first nearly six years very sparingly. Since taking office in 2009, Obama has only vetoed legislation twice, both in fairly minor circumstances.
“I haven’t used the veto pen very often since I’ve been in office,” Obama said in an NPR interview airing Monday. “Now, I suspect, there are going to be some times where I’ve got to pull that pen out.”
He added: “I’m going to defend gains that we’ve made in health care. I’m going to defend gains that we’ve made on environment and clean air and clean water.”
Obama’s warning to the GOP that he’ll veto legislation if necessary to protect his agenda and laws like the Affordable Care Act came as he sought to set the tone for a year in which Congress and the president are on a near-certain collision course. Buoyed by decisive gains in last month’s midterm elections, Republicans are itching to use their newfound Senate majority to derail Obama’s plans on immigration, climate change and health care, to name a few.
To overturn Obama’s veto, Republicans would need the votes of two-thirds of the House and Senate. Their majorities in both chambers are not that large, so they would still need to persuade some Democrats to defy the president.