President Obama, faced with strong and sustained opposition from the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, has repeatedly pledged to bypass Congress in order to carry out his agenda. It's now emerging just how extensive his end runs are going to be.
The latest example is his plan to expand high-speed internet access to 99 percent of schools within five years. The White House actually announced this initiative, called ConnectEd, earlier this summer but it was crowded out of the news by reports of a mammoth National Security Agency surveillance program. The initiative is now raising concerns with members of Congress.
As outlined in The Washington Post, the program would cost up to $6 billion and be funded in part by raising fees for mobile phone users through the Federal Communications Commission. Those fees could amount to about $12 for every cellphone user over three years.
Republicans are not happy with this latest end run. "Most consumers would balk at higher costs, higher phone bills, and I sure hope that this is not part of the equation that ultimately comes out," Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., told The Post. "If they pursue that course, there's going to be pushback, absolutely," said Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Obama is also using his executive powers to bypass Congress on other issues, including climate change, health care, gun control and immigration.
Last month, he pledged to use his unilateral authority to speed up projects to rebuild and improve the nation's infrastructure. Speaking in Jacksonville, Fla., Obama promised new government investments in ports, with a particular effort to accommodate supertankers and other large ships. He wasn't specific about the extent of his plans but added: "Where I can act on my own, I'm going to act on my own. I won't wait for Congress."
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.