Obama & Bush meet for White House photo op
Obama & Bush meet for White House photo op
CHICAGO – It will be all smiles at the White House Monday when Barack Obama pays a visit – but behind the handshakes is friction over his plan to reverse many of President Bush‘s edicts on controversial matters like abortion and stem cells.
Obama’s legal eagles have targeted more than 200 unilateral Bush moves made in the past eight years for overturning. A team of lawyers has pored over the administration’s records for months, preparing for the changes.
John Podesta, Obama’s transition chief, warned that any unwelcome eleventh-hour executive orders could bequickly reversed by the new President when he takes office on Jan. 20.
“There’s a lot that the President can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we’ll see the President do that,” Podesta said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The expected cordial meeting and friendly photo opportunity today between the departing First Family and the Obamas will follow protocols of past transitions.
Lurking in the background will be tension over plans to reverse Bush’s longstanding orders. Among them: edicts barring funding for embryonic stem-cell research and a recent scheme that opened 360,000 acres of federal lands in Utah for oil and gas drilling.
“I think across the board, on stem-cell research, on a number of areas, you see the Bush administration even today moving aggressively to do things that I think are probably not in the interest of the country,” said Podesta, who served as chief of staff in the Clinton White House.
“They want to have oil and gas drilling in some of the most sensitive, fragile lands in Utah that they’re going to try to do right as they [are] walking out the door,” Podesta added. “I think that’s a mistake.”
Presidents long have used executive orders to impose policy and set priorities.
One of Bush’s first acts was to reinstate full abortion restrictions on U.S. overseas aid. The restrictions were first ordered by President Ronald Reagan, and President George H.W. Bush continued them. Bill Clinton lifted them soon after he took over the Oval Office, and it is expected Obama will do the same.
Executive orders “have the power of law and they can cover just about anything,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. However, the President cannot overrule laws passed by Congress.
If the two leaders choose to get into pressing matters, Obama may try to move Bush toward finding common ground on an estimated $190 billion stimulus package that would expand jobless benefits and food stamps allocations and create a government-funded jobs program.
The White House has sent mixed signals on whether it will support the package that Congress will debate in coming days when it returns for a so-called lame-duck session. Obama would like Bush to approve the stimulus package as soon as possible.
Differences aside, there will be a smattering of pomp and circumstance on today’s itinerary.
Bush and First Lady Laura Bush will welcome Obama and his wife, Michelle, during a picture-taking ceremony at 2 p.m. on the south portico of the White House.
After some posing and words of welcome, the two men will proceed down the colonnade alongside the Rose Garden and step into the Oval Office for their closed-door t%EAte-à-t%EAte. The First Lady will lead a private tour of the mansion for Michelle Obama during the time their husbands huddle in the West Wing.
The visit is scheduled to last only 90 minutes, and the Obamas are set to fly home to Chicago immediately after the Bushes bid them email@example.com
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