John T. Bennett

White House Watch: Icy Relations With Congress Anew

Roll Call's White House correspondent, John T. Bennett, talks Congress and White House tensions this week. Both chambers overrode a President Barack Obama veto for the first time in his presidency, and questions surround the White House’s involvement, or lack thereof, in government funding talks. Watch for more....
Sources: White House Not Heavily Involved in CR Endgame
Obama, aides worked closely with key lawmakers in August

Sources describe President Barack Obama and his top aides as laying down their cards and then walking away from the table before congressional leaders really began seriously negotiating a stopgap spending measure

Talks on Capitol Hill took a key turn Tuesday afternoon after Senate Democrats blocked a Republican-crafted measure that included Louisiana flood relief but not funding for the troubled Flint, Michigan, water system.

Obama, Netanyahu Take Icy Relationship to Peres Funeral
3 times the 'frenemies' publicly – and privately – clashed

When President Barack Obama lands in Israel for the funeral of Shimon Peres, that country’s former leader, he will be face-to-face one last — and unexpected — time as president with a leader some have called his best “frenemy.”

That would be Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom Obama has had perhaps the iciest relationship. Even as Obama and Netanyahu pay tribute to Peres, one of Israel’s founding fathers, many will be keeping a close eye on their interactions — or lack thereof.

White House Walks Tightrope on Flint Aid
Obama is not using signature as leverage to get more help for Michigan city

"He has the nerve to suggest Democrats are the ones causing problems," Earnest said, urging Ryan to provide “a little clarity about Republicans' commitment to addressing this issue.” ...
Trump Castigates Global Trade Pacts, Lawmakers Caught In a Vice
Political Rhetoric Against Trade Deals Drowns Out Supporters

(First appeared in CQ Magazine on July 11, 2016.)

Sens. Charles E. Grassley, a cantankerous Midwestern conservative, and Tim Kaine, a paint-by-the-numbers East Coast Democrat, don’t agree on very much. But when it comes to free trade, both are very worried.

Terrorism Bill Creates Odd Allies in Obama, Corporate Execs
Dow Chemical, GE bosses urge Republican leaders to cancel override votes

The White House is finding some unlikely allies in its efforts to discourage Congress from overriding President Barack Obama’s veto of a bill allowing lawsuits against countries with possible ties to terrorist attacks.

Several CEOs of corporations with ties to governments in regions that are breeding grounds for violent extremists are urging House and Senate leaders to scrap plans for override votes as early as this week.

Obama Vetoes Terrorism Bill as Override Votes Loom
Democrats are sympathetic to his concerns, but likely to vote with GOP

President Barack Obama on Friday vetoed a bill that would allow families of the victims of terrorist attacks in the United States to sue foreign governments believed to be linked to the strikes, setting up a difficult election-year decision for congressional Democrats.

Obama expressed "deep sympathy" for those who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001, writing in a statement accompanying the veto that he has "deep appreciation of these families' desire to pursue justice and [is] strongly committed to assisting them in their efforts."

White House Watch: Shutdown Looms Over President and Congress

This week in Washington, President Barack Obama is expected to veto a 9/11 bill that would allow lawsuits against nations that support terrorist attacks in the United States. A vote in Congress to override that veto would likely be close. Congress dealt this week with the issue of funding the government after Oct. 1 and experts say a shutdown is more likely than several weeks ago after talks stalled once again....
White House to Congress: It's on You to Avoid Another Shutdown
GOP lawmakers see administration as tuned out of CR talks

Republicans negotiating a stopgap spending measure to avoid another government shutdown say the White House has been AWOL from the talks, igniting another round of debate about President Barack Obama’s role in high-stakes Capitol Hill dealmaking.

Government funding is slated to run out at midnight on Oct. 1. In 2013, another spending fight shuttered the government for 16 days. Then, Obama said he wouldn't give in to what he termed ideological Republican demands or allow the GOP to use the threat of a shutdown to force changes that included scuttling his signature health care overhaul.

Stopgap Talks Still Mired as Democrats Slam Senate GOP's Plan
Groundhog Day: 'We’re back where we were yesterday,' Reid says

Senate negotiations to avert a government shutdown remained mired Thursday, with the Senate's top Democrat indicating that his party opposes key provisions in a Republican stopgap spending plan.

GOP leaders rolled out legislative text of a continuing resolution to keep the government running through Dec. 9 that was quickly rejected by Democrats.

On Terrorism Bill, Senators Report Silence from White House
Sen. Corker calls overturning of likely Obama veto a 'fait accompli'

Senators trying to assuage White House concerns about a bill allowing families of terrorist attacks in the United States to sue foreign governments say they have heard nary a peep from administration officials, portending a possible veto override as soon as next week.

President Barack Obama has until Friday to issue a promised veto of the measure, which passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterated Tuesday evening that the president will veto the bill.

At UN, Obama Warns World Order on Verge of 'Fraying'
Inequality fueling 'contest' between strongmen and democracy, president says

A leader who burst onto the world stage peddling hope and change  warned Tuesday that the bonds that keep Western civilization from descending into chaos are on the verge of “fraying.”

President Barack Obama’s final United Nations General Assembly address was a sober assessment that forces such as income inequality threaten to force conflicts “in and among” countries — and not just ones in the developing world. He warned of an intensifying “contest” between liberal democratic systems and authoritarianism.

GOP Mostly Powerless in Stopping Obama 'Midnight' Regulations
Cornyn says president is in a "frenzy mode" as the clock ticks toward Jan. 20

Republican lawmakers are bracing for a slew of last-minute rules and regulations, as well as more executive actions to place swaths of land under federal protection, during President Barack Obama's final months in office.

“Midnight regulations” are a feature of any lame-duck administration and represent a president's last opportunity to lock in rules on legacy issues. In many instances, GOP members acknowledge they are powerless to stop him.

Obama Suggests Trump Presidency Would Be 'Unmitigated Disaster'
President continues to haul in campaign cash for Clinton, Dems

Using some of his most candid language so far this election cycle, President Barack Obama late Sunday suggested a Donald Trump presidency would be an “unmitigated disaster.” And he advised Democratic donors to prepare for a tense Election Day.

Speaking at a Sunday night fundraiser with 65 attendees at an upscale Manhattan apartment — attendees donated from $25,000 to $250,000 to the Democratic Party — Obama said of the Republican presidential nominee: “This guy is not qualified to be president.”

White House Watch: Stopgap Spending Bill and 9/11 Families Bill Veto

White House reporter John T. Bennett speculates on President Barack Obama's potential veto on a 9/11 Families bill and the White House push on Congress' stopgap spending measure....
Once a Cinch, Criminal Justice Bill Just Another Campaign Promise
As Obama's tune changes, Flake says 'it’s going to have to be' delayed

An overhaul of federal criminal justice laws was once considered among the most achievable of President Barack Obama's policy goals in his last year in office. Now, it's been reduced to a stump-speech applause line designed to boost turnout for Hillary Clinton on Election Day.

Hopes were high into this summer that an overhaul  bill with bipartisan support could be signed into law, leading to changes in sentencing laws and related efforts to make it easier for those with criminal records to function on the outside.

White House: Cornyn, Cruz 'Intellectually Dishonest' on Judges
Cruz aide deems Obama spokesman's criticisms 'pretty rich'

President Barack Obama’s top spokesman is calling Texas' Republican senators “intellectually dishonest” for blocking the president's Supreme Court nominee while calling for federal court seats in their home state to be filled.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest questioned how Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and former presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz could support the ongoing blockade of Judge Merrick Garland's nomination while also pushing for the confirmation of five Obama federal court nominees in the Lone Star State.

Obama Blames Dysfunction on GOP's 'Cockamamie' Legislation
'I’m ... not somebody who bleeds Democrat,' president says

President Barack Obama says Washington’s recent dysfunction is the result of a Republican Party focused mostly on “cockamamie” legislation, telling donors he wanted to reach across the aisle more because he is not a partisan.

During a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser Tuesday night in New York, described himself as "not somebody who bleeds Democrat,” even though he is still the head of party.

Clinton, McGinty Eager to Embrace Obama's Record in Pennsylvania
Trump sees America as 'a divided crime scene,' president says

Democratic Senate candidate Katie McGinty was there. Democratic Rep. Robert A. Brady was there. A pneumonia-stricken Hillary Clinton was there in spirit, her campaign slogan affixed where the presidential seal typically hangs.

Standing on a podium in Philadelphia featuring a blue “Stronger Together” sign, President Barack Obama offered a confident, relaxed and energetic grin as he told the friendly audience, “It is good to be back on the campaign trail.” The crowd roared its admiration for a president with approval ratings holding steady at above 50 percent, making him perhaps the best weapon Democratic candidates have.

Defense Secretary's Tensions With GOP Could Lead Clinton Elsewhere
Flournoy said to lead Democratic nominee's list of prospective Pentagon chiefs

If elected, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton could follow through on her desire to appoint the nation's first female defense secretary.

A widening rift between congressional Republicans and Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, as well as Clinton's own differing world view from Carter's, makes that more likely.