TIME Congress

Louisiana Senator One Vote Short on Keystone Pipeline Bill

Landrieu Hunts for Filibuster-Proof Majority

Ten days ago, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said that a vote to authorize the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline would be a “slam dunk.” As of Monday morning, a day before an expected high-profile Senate vote, the ball appears to be hovering above the rim.

Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, the party’s Whip, said Sunday that the pipeline’s proponents have nabbed 59 votes as of Friday. All 45 Republicans are expected to vote for the bill, requiring 15 Democratic votes for passage. The two independents—Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Angus King of Maine—are no and “likely no,” respectively, according to a congressional aide.

“Well, we were one vote short as we left last week,” said Durbin on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday. “But I know they’re burning up the phone lines and e-mails trying to find that vote to support the procedural move. I don’t know how successful they have been.”

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is leading the effort to 60 in the midst of a heated runoff reelection race against Republican Louisiana Rep. Bill Cassidy, who sponsored identical Keystone legislation that passed the House Friday. Durbin acknowledged Sunday that the Keystone vote is political, as “every indication” predicts that President Obama will veto the three-page bill.

“Every indication is, the president will veto an attempt to preempt the regular process of reviewing the permit for this pipeline,” said Durbin on CNN. “I think that it should go through the orderly process. The Republicans believe that the president’s power should be taken away, it should be moved on a fast track. But, remember, the oil that is going to flow through that pipeline is not going to be used in the United States or reduce gas prices in the United States.”

TIME Congress

Nazis to Be Banned From Getting U.S. Social Security

Rep. Carolyn Maloney hopes the House will vote on the legislation this month

Lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday that seeks to bar Nazis from receiving benefits like Social Security.

An October AP report revealed that the U.S. government had given millions of dollars to former Nazis in Social Security payments, even after many had left the country. At least 38 out of 66 who fled or were deported since 1979 continued to receive payments. At least four suspects are still alive and in Europe, living on American funds. Four more suspected Nazis continue to live stateside.

The new legislation would put an end to all federal benefits, and would require the attorney general to communicate with the Social Security Administration about all those who lose their American citizenship as a result of Nazi investigations. The bill is sponsored by Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who said she hopes the House will vote on the measure this month.

[The Hill]

 

TIME Government

Report Details Secret Service Mishaps in White House Breach

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White House at midday Allan Baxter—Getty Images

One of several blunders, according to a Homeland Security report

An intruder was able to climb the White House fence and enter the premises in September because of a number of mishaps, like faulty alarm systems and officers not even spotting him, according to a summary of a Homeland Security report Thursday.

Members of Congress were briefed on the report Thursday, according to the New York Times, which obtained its executive summary. The report is said to detail the security lapses that allowed Omar Gonzalez, who is charged in the Sept. 19 breach, to enter the White House. Among them, an officer who was stationed with an attack dog on the North Lawn was busy talking on a personal cell phone in a van and had not seen the man climb the fence.

Julia Pierson, who was the Secret Service director at the time of the incident, later resigned.

Read more at the New York Times

TIME Congress

Boehner Reelected As House Speaker

After extending their party’s House majority to the largest margin in decades, the top Republican Congressmen will all return to leadership roles for another two years.

House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Whip Steve Scalise and Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers all ran unopposed. National Republican Conference Chairman Greg Walden will continue to serve as the head of the effort to elect more House Republicans. The leadership election reaffirmed the election this summer following the primary loss of former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Despite her party’s losses, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is all but certain to win reelection to her post on November 18. She lived up to her reputation as a fundraising powerhouse, raising over $100 million for Democrats this cycle.

Across the Capitol, Senate Democrats and Republicans voted Thursday to keep Nevada Senator Harry Reid and Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell as their parties’ leaders.

 

 

 

TIME Immigration

Report: Obama Set to Go It Alone on Immigration

Sara Ramirez, of Gaithersberg, Md. rallies for comprehensive immigration reform outside the White House in Washington D.C. on Nov. 7, 2014.
Sara Ramirez, of Gaithersburg, Md., rallies for comprehensive immigration reform outside the White House in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 7, 2014 Jacquelyn Martin—AP

The White House could make the move as early as next week

President Barack Obama is poised to unilaterally overhaul American immigration policy, according to several reports Thursday, in a long-anticipated move that would ignore his Republican critics and could allow up to 5 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the country.

The New York Times, citing unnamed Administration officials, reports that Obama intends as early as next week to announce plans to substantially refocus immigration enforcement involving some 12,000 agents and reduce the risk of deportation for millions of immigrants.

As many as 3.3 million parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents would be able to obtain legal work documents under the plan, the Times adds. Many immigrants with high-tech skills or who came to the U.S. as children could also be affected by the plan.

Obama has infuriated Republicans by pledging executive action on immigration if Congress does not pass a comprehensive reform bill. TIME’s Alex Altman wrote this week on the widely expected move, as well as the likely pushback from the soon-to-be Republican-controlled Congress:

The pressure on Obama to delay executive action is likely to build. Republican leaders say that skirting Congress to go it alone would ignite a controversy that jeopardizes the chances for cooperation between the President and the new GOP Congressional majority on a host of issues. “It’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull,” Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said. Immigration will be a touchstone in confirmation hearings for Loretta Lynch, Obama’s pick for Attorney General. Tea Party conservatives in the Senate signaled they plan to use the hearings to press Lynch on her views of the President’s executive authority on immigration.

Enacting sweeping changes to immigration law just weeks after the party was rebuked by voters at the polls could spark a blowback from voters. In one recent survey, conducted by Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, 74% of respondents said they preferred Obama to work with Congress to retool a broken immigration system rather than maneuvering around the legislative branch.

Even some seasoned Democrats seem a bit skittish about the idea. Over a sea-bass lunch Friday with congressional leaders in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, Obama told Boehner that his patience in waiting for the House to act on immigration had run out. At that point, according to a source familiar with the meeting, Vice President Joe Biden piped up to ask how long Republicans would need to craft immigration legislation — prompting the President to shoot Biden a look that closed the discussion.

Read more at the New York Times

Read next: How Ellis Island Changed Before It Closed

TIME 2014 Election

The Politics Behind Mary Landrieu’s Pipeline Power Play

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) holds a news conference with fellow committee member Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) on the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington on Nov. 12, 2014.
Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, holds a news conference with fellow committee member Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, on the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington on Nov. 12, 2014 Gary Cameron—Reuters

The Louisiana Democrat's move may be too little too late

Democrat Mary Landrieu’s attempt to force President Barack Obama to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is the latest in a political thrust-and-parry exchange between the three-term Senator and GOP Representative Bill Cassidy, her opponent in next month’s Senate runoff election in Louisiana. But Landrieu’s gambit may be too little too late, election watchers say.

The frantic maneuvering started Wednesday morning when Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell promised Cassidy a spot on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee if Cassidy beats Landrieu in the December runoff. Landrieu chairs the committee and has touted her tenure there as a symbol of her influence on Capitol Hill.

In response, Landrieu took to the floor of the Senate and gave a nearly three-hour speech calling for the body to take a vote on her bill, which would require Obama to clear the final bureaucratic and regulatory obstacles preventing construction of the pipeline.

The next move came from across the Capitol building, when House Speaker John Boehner and majority leader Kevin McCarthy fast-tracked Cassidy’s three-page bill to authorize the pipeline straight to the floor of the House, bypassing the committees that normally would have weighed the proposal. Cassidy’s bill (which matches the Senate language) will get a House vote on Friday.

When the Senate votes as early as Tuesday on Landrieu’s bill, it will be the first time in six years that both chambers of Congress will vote on the pipeline, according to the Washington Post.

“It’s been a dizzying 24 hours for a supposed lame-duck legislature as it relates to Louisiana,” says Joshua Stockley, an associate professor of political science at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Landrieu’s gambit may help her re-election chances, but it comes at a cost. Forcing a Keystone vote in Congress will give McConnell and Boehner an unexpected win on the list of issues they want to tackle when the GOP takes control of both chambers of Congress early next year. White House press secretary Josh Earnest signaled Wednesday that the President would oppose the legislation, as he has in the past.

“We have indicated that the President’s senior advisors at the White House would recommend that he veto legislation like that,” said Earnest. “And that does continue to be our position.”

And it’s not even clear how much Landrieu’s push will help her chances. “Landrieu’s task is continuing to separate and distance herself from the President,” says Stockley. “Does Keystone help make that argument? Yes, but I would argue that’s been somewhat neutralized. Cassidy is going to be able to come back and say, ‘My language, my bill, I voted on it too.’”

“She’s going to have to do something more significant than the Keystone pipeline to beat Representative Cassidy,” he adds.

In last week’s race, Landrieu nabbed the top spot with 42% of the vote, compared with 41% for Cassidy and 14% for Tea Party candidate Rob Maness. She is facing an avalanche of ads and outside spending she can’t match (she lost the financial support of the group designed to get her elected, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) and an opponent bolstered by Maness’s conservatives. As TIME’s Denver Nicks notes, Landrieu’s team believes she’s got a shot if she wins 30% of white voters, up from just 18% she received in the general elections last week. Of course, Landrieu has won runoffs before, in 1996 and 2002, and has expressed hope for pulling out another victory.

“Are you a lost cause?” NBC’s Kasie Hunt asked Landrieu on Wednesday. “I don’t believe I am,” she replied.

MONEY retirement planning

Five Takeaways on Retirement from the Midterm Elections

With Republicans controlling Congress, expect a push to cut Social Social and Medicare benefits—and maybe new ideas to encourage savings.

Retirement policy wasn’t on the ballot in last week’s midterm elections. But the new political landscape could threaten the retirement security of middle-class households.

With Republicans in full control of Congress, expect efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. And more Republican-controlled statehouses mean more efforts to curtail state and local workers’ pension plans. One positive note: Congress and the White House could find common ground on some promising ideas to encourage retirement saving.

Here are five policy areas to watch that could affect your retirement security.

SOCIAL SECURITY

The midterm results boost the odds that Social Security cuts will be in the mix if the brinkmanship over the federal debt ceiling or budget resumes.

Social Security does need reform. Its retirement trust fund will be exhausted in 2034, when revenue from payroll taxes would cover just 77% of benefits. Meanwhile, the disability program will be able to pay full benefits only through 2016. If Congress doesn’t act, 9 million disabled people will see their benefits cut by 20%.

Republicans have advocated higher retirement ages, less generous cost-of-living increases and means-testing of benefits. Some Democrats have fought for expansion of benefits and revenue for the program but haven’t been backed by President Obama or congressional party leaders.

How deeply could benefits be slashed? If previous conservative proposals are any guide, anywhere from 15% to 20%, with young people taking the biggest hit.

MEDICARE

The GOP has pushed Medicare reform plans that would “voucherize” the program, replacing defined benefits with a set amount of cash that beneficiaries could use to shop for coverage in a Medicare exchange. That would raise premiums for seniors in traditional Medicare by 50% in 2020 over current projections, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

The ACA isn’t a retirement program, but it has helped older Americans by beefing up Medicare benefits covering older people who had trouble obtaining insurance and were too young for Medicare. This year the rate of uninsured 50- to 64-year-old Americans fell from 14% to 11%, according to the Commonwealth Fund.

The percentage would be smaller if the U.S. Supreme Court hadn’t given states an opt-out option on Medicaid—it has been expanded in only 27 states and the District of Columbia. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans continue to threaten funding, and the ACA faces a new Supreme Court threat. If the court rules that tax subsidies on marketplace premiums can’t be offered on the federal exchange, exchange insurance marketplaces will be on life support in all but 13 states with their own exchanges.

PENSIONS

Republicans will control 31 governors’ offices and 30 state legislatures, the most since the 1920s. That means we can expect the attack on public sector pension benefits to accelerate.

The National Association of State Retirement Administrators and the Center for State & Local Government Excellence reviewed pension reforms by 29 states this year and found reductions in annual benefits ranged from 1.2% (Pennsylvania) to 20% (Alabama); the average across all states was 7.5%.

RETIREMENT SAVING

A grand bargain on the federal budget could limit pre-tax contributions to 401(k) accounts, an idea floated regularly in tax reform discussions. And ideas aimed at helping lower-income households save for retirement could gain ground. The Obama Administration has asked Congress to create a national automatic IRA option and is rolling out a limited version called the MyRA.

Meanwhile, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has called for a government-sponsored 401(k)-style account for Americans who don’t have a plan at work. He would like to open up the federal Thrift Savings Plan to private-sector workers. That’s attractive because the TSP boasts low costs, a short and easy-to-understand set of investment choices and options to convert savings into an annuity stream at retirement.

Another idea I like: the “baby Roth.” The plan’s architect projects that an initial contribution of $500 to an infant’s Roth IRA, with subsequent annual contributions of $250, would grow to $131,800 at age 65, versus $35,300 for an account started at age 25.

It’s disappointing that few candidates campaigned on ideas that would help the middle class build retirement security. Democrats could have boasted about how the ACA is helping older Americans. And polls show that expanding Social Security and keeping Medicare strong are winning issues across partisan divides and demographic groups.

TIME Congress

GOP Grills Obama Officials Over Ebola Funding Request

Republicans Grill Administration Officials on Quarantine, Czar

A Senate panel took a skeptical look at President Obama’s request for $6.2 billion to combat Ebola Wednesday, with Republicans grilling the Administration on its quarantine protocols and the role of Ron Klain, the President’s Ebola czar.

The ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Richard Shelby, criticized the Administration’s “confusing and at at times contradictory” claims about the effectiveness of a quarantine. He and other GOP Senators questioned why the Pentagon has ordered a mandatory 21-day isolation period for all military personnel returning from the affected West African countries, while the federal government took months to add enhanced airport screenings for civilians and other non-military personnel traveling to the region.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell responded that while she respected the Pentagon’s quarantine directive, the military’s decision “was not based on the science.”

Shelby also questioned the role of Ebola czar Ron Klain, saying that “all reports indicate that he has no actual authority.” The witnesses responded that they had been in frequent contact with Klain. Burwell said she had been in touch him “every day” and touted the “added value” Klain brings to coordinating policies with the departments and the White House.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, who will lose her gavel to Shelby in the new Republican-majority next year, said the emergency request to contain and eradicate Ebola met her criteria.

“It’s sudden, unanticipated, unforeseen, urgent and temporary,” Mikulski said. The country, she added, needs to “face very clearly the fear that it generates” and repeated that America has had nine, “N-I-N-E,” cases while West Africa has dealt with thousands. Mikulski added that she wants the Ebola funding to go into a year-long omnibus bill, which must pass by Dec. 11 to avert a government shutdown.

Nearly $3 billion of Obama’s request will be allocated to USAID and the State Department, which will use the money for additional training of health care workers and burial teams and to build and maintain more treatment centers. Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, told the panel the U.S. anti-Ebola effort is “the largest-ever U.S. government response to a global health crisis,” with more than 1,800 Pentagon officials, 36 USAID workers and 163 Health and Human Services personnel in West Africa.

Much of the rest of the requested spending—$2.4 billion—would go to the Department of Health and Human Services, which will continue to ramp up U.S. hospital training. HHS says that more than 250,000 health care personnel have participated in the department’s informational events. Hundreds of millions of dollars would be allocated to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, which would, respectively, hire more officers to investigate and monitor the disease and invest in research and development of vaccines.

The World Health Organization announced Wednesday that there were 14,098 reported cases and 5,160 deaths in the current outbreak, with the vast majority in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. This week the last known Ebola patient in the United States was cured and released from a New York hospital.

 

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Eric Cantor’s Secrets for Negotiating with Joe Biden

Joe Biden
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Civil Society Forum on the sideline of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 4, 2014 Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images

"The Guy's Awesome"

Last week’s Republican victories may have had the paradoxical effect of increasing the influence of the consummate Congressional Democrat, Joe Biden. GOP leaders looking to show they can get things done now that control both the House and Senate will need to cut deals with the Obama White House, and Vice President Joe Biden may be their best hope to do so.

On Tuesday, TIME spoke with one of the closest observers of Biden’s negotiating tactics, his long-time sparring partner and former House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, now vice chairman and at the investment bank Moelis & Company. As the number two Republican in the House for the first six years of the Obama administration, and a constant thorn in the side of the White House on issues like the budget, energy, immigration and health care, Cantor saw Biden’s techniques up close.

You’ve spent a lot of time negotiating with Vice President Biden. What was that like?

Cantor: Unquestionably, the Vice President knows how to negotiate. He understands people. And in my professional background, before I got to Congress and certainly now in the private world at Moelis & Company and in Congress, if you’re interested in doing deals, and getting a result, what I think what one needs to do is be able to size people up. And this is what Joe Biden has always been about in my experience. He is able to size up where the opposition is. He’s firmly rooted in his direction, what he needs to accomplish in the negotiations, and then understands how far you can push and not lose a result or a deal.

My real experience is from the extended time we spent together in the summer of 2011 around the debt ceiling discussions. As you recall, the Speaker had asked me to serve on the Biden commission. The President had basically formed it and put the Vice President in charge. And there were a handful of us in the room for seven weeks almost, three days a week, two and a half hours a day. And the Vice president was the only one, and that commission was the only entity that really came up with a list of spending reductions that both sides could agree to.

Now, he would always say nothing was agreed to unless everything is agreed to. But nonetheless, work was done in the granularity of the programs that were targeted. Nothing was ever agreed to universally because the tax question came up and that’s what kicked it back to the White House and we all had to come back to the White House for two weeks with the President and then ultimately that ended with the Super Committee creation. But if you look at what has transpired since then, the Super Committee, the fiscal cliff, Murray-Ryan, all of that, the work that came out of Joe Biden’s commission is the common theme. And I believe that is attributable to his negotiating skills and ability to cut through—to set aside what you don’t agree on and try to come to a result.

What was the difference in negotiating with the President compared to the Vice President:

Cantor: I just think that the President obviously doesn’t have the tenure in Washington in negotiating deals that the Vice President’s had. Just in terms of pure time. And I think that the President is very rooted in what he wants. The President also, in my view, is very rooted in what he thinks the other side wants. And that’s where the difficulty in my opinion has been with the President over the last six years. If one does not agree with the President’s view of what you want, there’s very little prospect for a result. Joe Biden has a real sensitivity, not only to human reaction, but also partisan and political sensitivities. He understands how far you can push before you just blow up the prospects for a deal.

One readout of last week’s White House meeting suggested that the Vice President got ahead of Obama’s position on immigration reform in a desire to cut a deal. Have you seen that happen before?

Cantor: Honestly, the whole sense of the discussion around the initial debt ceiling talks in 2011 was just that. The president had dispatched the Vice President to come up with areas that could become part of a larger deal. And really the Vice President was very clear and never hid anything from me. He said in order to get any of the kinds of things we’re discussing, the President is going to want some kind of revenue increase. He laid it all out on the table. ‘That’s what we need.’ And I indicated what we needed and that we couldn’t go for tax increases. So I think there has certainly been evidence that the Vice President is a negotiator, he wants to cut through and get a deal done.

I think that on the fiscal cliff deal, when he struck that agreement with McConnell, that was the last time that the President wanted Joe Biden involved. And this is unfortunately what the pattern has been. Hopefully, I think the President may see the light and say if you want to get a deal done, bring in the deal man, Joe Biden.

What’s the current state of the Biden-McConnell relationship?

Cantor: I can’t speak for McConnell. But I do… stay in touch with [Biden]. He stays in touch with people. Part of the ability to do deals is to know both sides and to understand their thought process and their political priorities and imperatives. My sense would be, if I’m like others, Joe Biden has maintained those relationships. And that’s one of the striking differences between the President and Vice President. The President has not spent the time necessary even while he’s been in office the last six years, much less before, developing, nurturing relationships and understanding people’s thinking. And that is a huge impediment to the President’s ability to do a deal, whereas I think Joe Biden has been schooled in that way.

How did you try to square the Vice President’s public image with his negotiating record?

Cantor: Joe Biden is what you see. You know, he’s genuine. Yes, he’s prone to gaffes publicly, and he’ll admit that. He’s very self-deprecating like that. And I’m certainly not one who agrees with Joe Biden on all things—we probably disagree more than we agree—but from a human and relationship standpoint, the guy’s awesome.

Do you think the midterms opened up the possibility for deal-making?

Cantor: I really think that there’s going to be a trial period here. And I really look at the next six weeks as that. From the White House standpoint, if the president signs an executive order on immigration unilaterally that will not bode well for the productivity of the next Congress. Again, I think that’s the trial issue for the president.

From Congress’ standpoint, their job is to get done the omnibus/minibus spending package. Because if they kick the can and decide to push the [longer-term spending bill] into the next Congress so they don’t have to “negotiate” with the other side, I think that leaves wide open the chance of mischief and derailing of the path to productivity.

Do you think last week’s election paved the way for a more united GOP conference, or will leadership still have difficulty keeping members in line.

Cantor: In my experience, I think the latter would probably be [a more likely] reality. And it’s always going to be a challenge for leadership. I do think in the House, the Speaker and the Leader are going to have a much larger majority now that hopefully will be more inclined to follow the path laid out by the Speaker and the leadership. If we can see the House and Senate to really begin to move legislation across the floor—and some of the legislation and probably a lot of it will not be to the White House’s liking—there’s something about that that may lend itself to a more espirit de corps, if you will, for folks to hang together because they’re winning, they’re getting legislation across the floor, they’re getting it out of Congress, sending it to the President’s desk and then it would be incumbent on the President to respond.

I think if you can see some real legislative productivity on the Hill that may lend itself to the larger majorities now hanging with leadership more.

TIME 2014 Election

Despite Midterm ‘Wave,’ Americans Not Particularly Thrilled About GOP Control

US-POLITICS-OBAMA-CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP
Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, center, looks on as U.S. President Barack Obama, left, speaks during a bipartisan, bicameral congressional leadership luncheon at the White House in Washington, D.C., Nov. 7, 2014 Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images

Americans are skeptical of what's to come in remaining years of Obama presidency

Looks like the “meh” election has yielded the expected reaction from the American public. Less than half of Americans are happy to see Republicans take control of Congress, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, and about the same proportion think the Republican “wave” will lead to legislative success.

Republicans have been promising Washington will “function” with the GOP in control of Congress, but Americans in general foresee more of the same over the next two years.

Nearly six-out-of-ten say things will change either “some” or “a lot” with Republicans in control, but when it comes to the partisan divide 55% of Americans expect nothing to change. Almost half of all Americans think Republicans will see their programs passed into law, while 40% disagree.

Following the bevy of Republican wins that guaranteed Sen. Mitch McConnell will likely be the Senate’s next Majority Leader, the Kentucky Republican joined House Speaker John Boehner in touting the myriad legislation they’ll push through Congress. “Now we can get Congress going,” boasts their joint op-ed, published in the Wall Street Journal.

However, Americans are less hopeful that the switch in party control will lead to Washington suddenly functioning. When it comes to legislation Republican leadership is eager to take the lead on, support among Americans is falling. About 51% disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, but detractors are split on how best to handle the President’s signature health law. A whopping 83% of Republicans support building the Keystone XL pipeline, but over the past year support among Democrats has fallen by 11 points. What’s more, Americans are worried Republicans will use their new-found footing in Washington to increase investigations into the White House and Democrats — following a similar pattern of concern expressed when the balance of power shifted. In 2006, according to Pew, Americans had a similar fear when Democrats took control during the final George W. Bush years.

But Americans don’t think Obama would do a better job fixing the nation’s problems than Congress. In 2010, at least 49% of Americans wanted Obama to take the lead on addressing major issues. In 2014, however, nearly equal percentages of Americans would like to see Congress (41%) and Obama (40%) at the helm.

Americans also doubt the President can accomplish much during his last two years in office; the bulk, 59%, say he’ll get little to nothing done — two percentage points less than those asked the same question at the same point in Bush’s term.

Pew surveyed 1,353 adults for this latest report, which was conducted between Nov. 6 and Nov. 9. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 points.

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