President Barack Obama is leaving some tough decisions, including immigration and the Keystone XL oil pipeline, until after the midterm elections. The president’s inaction on key issues is part of his strategy to protect vulnerable Democrats running for re-election, especially in the Senate, where he needs a Democratic majority if he hopes to enact any kind of second-term agenda.
Taking action on these highly contentious issues would give ammunition to Republicans in close races against their Democratic opponents. For example, if Obama decided to approve the contentious Keystone XL oil pipeline, enraged environmental advocates might sit out the election or decline to bankroll Democratic candidates. The president is not expected to make a decision on the pipeline until next year.
"If you have a lot of people who are angry at you or disillusioned and sit on their hands, you're going to have a disaster in November,” Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, told Newsmax.
The same holds true on immigration. Congress has failed to act on immigration in part because congressmen fear losing their seats for voting one way or the other. Obama pledged to take executive action on immigration, but said he won’t do so until Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder get back to him on how he can optimally use his executive powers. Johnson and Holder’s decisions aren’t expected until after the election.
Two Democratic senators facing tough re-election battles -- Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina -- urged Obama not to take executive action, according to the Hill.