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.  

In Paris, Obama Says Climate Change 'Akin' to ISIS Threat

An Obama adviser says the White House views climate change as a top threat. (Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images)

Updated 1:41 p.m. | The ramifications of a changing global climate will rival those of Islamic State attacks like the one last month in Paris, President Barack Obama said Tuesday.  

In comments sure to reverberate across the Atlantic and rile hawkish congressional Republicans, Obama said the threats to U.S. and global security from climate change are already "akin" to an Islamic State terrorist attack.  

Obama Climate Plan Pitch Falls on Deaf Ears in GOP

Obama warned world leaders on Monday that they were among the last to be able to solve climate issues. (Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images)

Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates are expected to put the Obama administration's portion of a multicountry plan to slash carbon emissions through a political wringer, putting in doubt its funding and fate.  

The juxtaposition on climate policy between President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was clear Monday. Obama warned world leaders at a climate conference near Paris they are the “last” ones who can address the “problem.” McConnell took to the Senate floor to call Obama’s plan to cut U.S. emissions unfair to middle-class Americans and “likely illegal.”  

Obama: U.S. Helped Cause Climate Change 'Problem'

Obama and Hollande met in Washington before the climate conference got started in France Monday. (Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama told other world leaders Monday that the United States played a major role in causing the climate change “problem,” and warned the groups it will be the “last” with a chance to address it. Obama and French President Francois Hollande spent months putting together the high-profile conference that began Monday on the outskirts of Paris. The main goals are to set industrialized and developing countries on a path to lower carbon emissions, while also establishing systems to both monitor countries’ progress and urge them to do more down the road.  

McConnell Slams Obama’s Climate Plan as Paris Conference Begins 

Obama Rejects Keystone Pipeline Plan

Obama announcing his Keystone decision Friday. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Updated 1:10 p.m. | The White House is rejecting a Canadian company’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline, sounding a death knell for the controversial project that has long pitted President Barack Obama against Republicans and the energy industry.  

Obama on Friday criticized members of both parties for treating the proposal like a “campaign cudgel instead of a serious policy matter.” Ultimately, the president said he concluded the plan was “neither the silver bullet” for the U.S. economy nor a sure-fire cause of “climate disaster” as claimed by those on either side of the issue.  

Golden Rule Doesn't Justify Illegal Immigration, Sessions Says

Sessions said Pope Francis went close to the line of what a religious leader should say. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Pope Francis' call for lawmakers to follow the Golden Rule on immigration and other matters has its limits, according to one conservative senator.  

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the most ardent foe of illegal immigration in the Senate, talked warmly in general about the pope's speech, although he said at several points it approached the line of what is appropriate for a religious leader. On the calls to deal humanely with refugees and immigrants seeking opportunity, the Alabama Republican stressed the limits to such a policy.  

Divergent Senate Reactions to Pope's Call for Environmental Action

Pope Francis addresses a Joint Meeting of Congress Thursday in the Capitol. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Pope Francis never uttered the words "climate change" during his address Thursday to a joint meeting of Congress, but he did tell the elected officials present that protecting Earth is as much part of the "common good" as supporting businesses and job creation.  

In his speech, the pope called "for a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity." Asked if the pontiff's message about climate change had the potential to influence his Senate colleagues, Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., didn't sound optimistic.  

Pope Francis Speech to Congress Transcript

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On a historic Thursday on the Hill, Pope Francis addressed a joint meeting of Congress, calling on the legislative body to act on immigration, climate and the economy .  

Below is the CQ Roll Call transcript of the speech in its entirety. FRANCIS:  

Pope and President Talk Climate, Immigration on South Lawn

First lady Michelle Obama, Pope Francis, and President Barack Obama waves from the balcony overlooking the South Lawn of the White House. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The history making arrival ceremony for Pope Francis at the White House lived up to its billing, with the pontiff challenging America to live up to its founding ideals and President Barack Obama touting many areas of agreement — from protecting the planet and welcoming immigrants to opening up Cuba .  

On a perfect, sunny, breezy day, Pope Francis arrived in his little black Fiat , greeted by the president and first lady Michelle Obama, flanked by an honor guard, the Cabinet, numerous members of Congress from both parties — and cheers from the 11,000 gathered on the South Lawn. After a brief walk on the red carpet to the podium, and the national anthems of the Holy See and the United States, the speeches began, with no shortage of political issues mentioned.  

Obama's Alaska Climate Action Call Skips Over Congress

Obama departs the White House for Alaska on Monday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that President Barack Obama didn't bother mentioning Congress when he made his remarks on climate change in Alaska late Monday. Republican leaders, after all, uniformly vilify his efforts to clamp down on carbon emissions.