For years, the sheer extremity of Republican obstructionism in the House of Representatives has been major news. President Obama has been forced to deal with opponents in the House since the midterms in 2010. However, he has had the comfort of a Democratic Senate throughout his presidency. Unfortunately for the president, this is no longer the case. For years the popular narrative of the relationship between Obama and the House has been one of obstructionism on the part of Republicans. With the GOP taking complete control of Congress on Tuesday, the tables have turned. The Democrats’ loss of Senate control completely flips the narrative of obstructionism.
The Republican House of Representatives have been obsessively preoccupied with obstructing government policy, especially policy associated with President Obama. They’ve blocked a historic number of presidential appointments and filibustered hundreds of bills. Notably, they shut down the government in a last ditch effort to defund Obamacare. This House has arguably been more obstructive than any other. Republicans can still be just as obstructive as they have been in the past. That capability doesn’t change. However, it is possible that they will no longer be seen as the main perpetrators.
With Republican control of the Senate the public may begin to view Obama as the obstructionist and not the GOP. The Republicans will now be able to get bills to pass through the Senate. These bills will be able to go directly to the president’s desk. Then it will be up to President Obama to veto or sign the bills into law. The president has only used his veto power twice in his entire presidency. Barring the possibility of Republicans and Democrats suddenly deciding to consistently compromise legislatively, it is likely that the president will be forced to use this power more to respond to a new barrage of legislation coming to his desk via Speaker Boehner and Mr. McConnell. If he does, the Republicans may experience firsthand what it’s like to be legislatively obstructed.
Ultimately, the American people will see more of the same. Gridlock is gridlock, no matter who’s causing it, but the flipped script of obstructionism will give the Republicans a much needed boost in image. They will no longer be the party that is preventing the majority from governing. They will become the party that is being prevented from governing by an obstructive president.