Obama may bypass Congress again for actions on ‘protecting home owners, gay rights’

Last Updated: Monday, February 11, 2013 - 17:04

Washington: President Barack Obama is considering a series of new executive actions aimed at working around a recalcitrant Congress.
The policies could allow struggling homeowners to re-finance their mortgages, provide new protections for gays and lesbians, make buildings more energy-efficient and toughen regulations for coal-fired power plants, people outside the White House involved in discussions on the issues said.

According to the Washington Post, the moves underline Obama’s increasingly aggressive use of executive authority, including 23 administrative actions on gun violence and previous orders that delayed deportations of young illegal immigrants and will lower student loan payments.

These and other potential actions suggest that Obama is likely to rely heavily on executive powers to set domestic policy in his second term.

One White House official said that while Obama did not see the actions as substitutes for more substantial legislation, he also wants to move forward on top priorities, the report said.

But the approach risks angering Republican lawmakers in Congress, who said that they are doubtful of granting the executive branch too much power and have already clashed with Obama over the issue.

In a ruling last month, a federal appeals court said Obama exceeded his constitutional powers in naming several people to the National Labor Relations Board while the Senate was on a break.

Obama may touch on some of the actions in broad terms during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, but he is unlikely to lay them out in detail, the report said.

According to the report, one of the more significant moves under consideration is in housing.

Obama is weighing whether to use his executive authority to give more of the country’s nearly 11 million struggling homeowners a chance to refinance at today’s ultra-low interest rates, according to the Treasury Department and others in talks with the administration on the issue.

Obama already has used his executive powers to make refinancing easier for people with loans backed by government-financed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But the new plan could extend the opportunity to people who are underwater on their privately backed mortgages, which have not been eligible for the same relief.

The plan, if adopted, would likely be aimed at homeowners who have otherwise kept up with their mortgage payments but have been unable to refinance because the loan against their home exceeds its depressed value. Many Republicans in Congress have balked at the idea amid concerns over the cost to taxpayers.

The White House is also reviewing whether the president should issue an executive order offering protections to gays and lesbians who work for government contractors.

Obama decided against issuing such an order during the presidential campaign last year, disappointing many gay-rights activists.

But two people familiar with White House thinking said the president may reverse that decision and issue the order if Congress does not pass broader legislation offering protection for gays in the workplace.

According to the report, in trying to slow climate change, Obama is considering acting through the Environmental Protection Agency to issue new rules governing carbon emissions by existing power plants, according to three people familiar with White House discussions.

The move would face fierce corporate opposition but is among the top goals of environmentalists.

The executive order calling for new cyber security standards would apply to industries such as transportation that are regulated by executive branch agencies, it added.

ANI



First Published: Monday, February 11, 2013 - 17:03

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