executive-orders

Is Cancer Task Force Another Placebo?

Biden is heading up Obama's task force to fight cancer. The group will meet this week. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

History suggests the White House’s new high-level task force to fight cancer could prove more placebo than antidote, despite its broad bipartisan support.  

The same Republicans who sat dismissively as President Barack Obama ticked off a wish list of stalwart Democratic policy desires during his final State of the Union address joined Democrats in a standing ovation when he announced he was placing Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in charge of a new task force charged with curing cancer in 10 years.  

Bernie's Big Day in D.C.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a media gaggle in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 26. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had a big, but mixed day in Washington Wednesday, meeting one-on-one with President Barack Obama at the White House, but also getting blasted by another key Democrat, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who criticized the presidential hopeful’s health care plan as unrealistic.

Just days before the crucial Iowa caucuses, Sanders also got a chance to reversee a previous stand on gun legislation, as Democrats on Capitol Hill pushed to roll back a 2005 law that protects firearms manufacturers from liability when their guns are used to commit crimes.

Rand Paul Applauds Obama's Solitary Confinement Changes

Obama acting on his own on solitary confinement rules rather than wait for Congress. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama has opted to make some changes to the federal criminal justice system on his own, rather than waiting for Congress to pass an overhaul measure during an election year. And his new solitary confinement rules have already won the praise of one GOP presidential candidate.  

Solitary confinement will no longer be used on juveniles or individuals accused or convicted of low-level crimes, Obama announced  Monday in a newspaper op-ed. He also is expanding treatment for the mentally ill and ramping up the amount of time inmates subjected to solitary confinement get to spend outside their cells. Collectively, the changes will affect 10,000 federal prisoners, according to the White House. Those changes stemmed from an Obama-ordered Justice Department review of federal solitary confinement policies that began last summer. That review determined holding prisoners in solitary can be a “necessary tool” in instances such as prisoners needing to be in isolation for their protection, Obama wrote in the opinion piece in the Washington Post.  

Will Obama Issue Executive Action on Cap-and-Trade?

Inhofe. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Obama administration is refusing to make his final year in office as uneventful as Republicans would like. In fact, lawmakers expect executive action on everything from terrorist detention to campaign finance to environmental issues.  

One possibility is an executive action setting up a carbon cap-and-trade system, says Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James M. Inhofe, R-Okla. President Barack Obama "has legacy things and he doesn’t have as much time as he would like to have,” Inhofe said in an interview. “Cap-and-trade and closing Gitmo, those are the things he wants to do.”  

Democrats Join GOP Warnings On Iran As Sanctions Eased

Obama faces new political fire for Saturday's developments in Iran. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama's legacy became further tied to Tehran on Saturday when Iran released four American prisoners and U.N. inspectors cleared the way for the easing of some painful sanctions on the Middle Eastern power.  

Obama is taking new political fire from Republican presidential hopefuls and lawmakers -- joined by some notable Democrats -- over the nuclear deal his administration and other world powers inked with Iran that made the sanctions lifting possible. Now, he is under new attacks after swapping seven Iranians for Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and three other Americans.  

Biden, McDonough Defend Obama's Last SOTU

Obama speaks during his final State of the Union to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday. Behind him, Biden and Ryan listen. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

President Obama deployed two of his closest advisers to defend his final State of the Union address, and they championed his shots at Donald Trump and calls for economic adjustments.  

During his likely final address to a joint session of Congress, Obama landed some not-so-subtle jabs on Trump’s chin. White House aides said the speech was not crafted as a political document meant to influence the presidential election cycle, but the president clearly wanted voters to hear an anti-Trump message from perhaps the most powerful bully pulpit in American politics.  

4 Surprises From Obama's Town Hall

Obama listens to a question from Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu during Thursday's town hall. (Aude Guerrucci/Pool/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama took his plea for gun control to prime time on Thursday, but it is unclear how many minds his CNN town hall will change.  

Obama took questions for just over an hour from CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and audience members, some gun-rights advocates and others from the firearms-control community. The event came several days after Obama unveiled a series of executive actions to beef up the federal background check system and other moves intended to curb mass shootings.  

Praise, Criticism for GOP as Obama Wraps 2015

Obama delivered a downright upbeat 2015 legislative victory lap and 2016 pep talk before leaving the White House. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

During his year-end news conference, President Barack Obama took the kinds of partisan shots that for years have so frustrated congressional Republicans. But he also flashed the pragmatic streak that helped him notch several legislative victories in 2015.  

On one hand, Obama praised Republicans for crafting several high-profile bills that met his muster. But on the other, he clubbed the GOP for bucking the rest of the world for its rejection of the very concept of climate change. The president and Capitol Hill Republicans have had a rocky relationship since even before he took office in January 2009, and the bad blood has made Washington a symbol of legislative dysfunction ever since. But the ill will seemed to dissipate a bit this year, as he signed into law sweeping bills on education, highways, the Export-Import Bank, and a massive spending bill that raises defense and domestic budget caps and also averts a government shutdown.  

Obama Poised to Tighten Gun Laws After Holidays

Congressional Republicans and Obama are at a standoff over access to guns. . (Saul Loeb/Pool/Getty Images File Photo)

Senior congressional aides and sources in the gun-control community expect the White House to use its executive powers to tighten federal gun laws shortly after President Barack Obama returns from a Hawaiian vacation in early January.  

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday he anticipates a legal review to continue through the holidays.  

Changes to Gun Laws Appear to Be Beyond Obama's Reach

Obama seemed resigned on Thursday that gun law reform might be beyond his reach. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Despite his pleas that changes could help prevent mass shootings like the one that killed 14 on Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif., President Barack Obama seems resigned that he's mostly powerless to overhaul the country’s gun laws.  

Obama has urged stricter gun laws for much of his tenure, doing so during funerals and vigils for victims during his presidency. But with just 13 months remaining in office, even Obama appears resigned that the “common-sense gun safety laws” for which he often has advocated are out of his reach.