The President will veto a bill authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline this week, despite the bill’s bipartisan support. But instead of making a big deal out of the “do nothing Congress” he’s seen so far as his foe (Obama’s only had the chance to veto three bills in his Presidency, largely due to partisan deadlock in the legislature), Obama will stamp this one out quietly, behind closed doors at his desk, without any media fanfare.
Because, as it turns out, the man who has spent the better part of four years accusing the Republicans of being the blockade against effective legislation is about to undertake a two-year crusade against anything passed by Congress, and he doesn’t want anyone to know about it.
Obama’s veto — just the third of his presidency and the first since 2010 — is expected to come with little fanfare, with even opponents of the pipeline arguing the White House should avoid further angering Democrats and unions who want Keystone to be built.
“We just want to see it get it rejected. Our work doesn’t end with the veto, we need to make sure votes are there to sustain that veto,” said Melinda Pierce, Sierra Club’s legislative director.
Republicans are eagerly awaiting Obama’s stroke of the pen, believing every veto he makes will help them make the case that job-creating legislation is being blocked by a president of “no.”
“This is the first piece of legislation on his desk . . . and he will have to choose between hard working Americans and taxpayers or environmental extremists,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a staunch Keystone supporter.
Even if you aren’t interested in the mechanics of transporting oil across America’s heartland, or are confused on the details of who gets to build Keystone and where, this bill has a deeper meaning for the Democrats’ coalition going into 2016. While it’s easy to see why the President would veto that impacts something the Democrats as a whole find to be a core belief of the party – say, abortion restrictions – the Keystone XL pipeline actually has an impact on several small Democratic coaltions. Heartland Democratic legislators want the economic boost that comes with a massive infrastructure project. Typically-Democratic labor unions are very interested in the possibility of hundreds, if not thousands, of union jobs. And moderate Democrats from industrial states across the country are joining Republicans to vote for the project. Vetoing the pipeline affords greater consideration to more typically “fringe” Democratic constituencies, like radical environmentalists, and demonstrates where the party thinks it needs to go to attract loyal voters in time for 2016.
This, of course, leaves blue-collar industrial workers, who are mostly middle-class, open to Republican marketing, provided they’re paying attention to legislative minutae. And that’s why Obama will take this veto behind closed doors. What you don’t see happen never happened.