Barack Obama

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Friday, May 9, 2014

LA JOLLA, Calif. — President Obama acknowledged Thursday that the executive actions he has been taking to work around an uncooperative Congress will go only so far in achieving his agenda, and said Democrats need to win control of the legislative branch to set the country on the right path in the final two years of his tenure.

The remarks at a fundraiser here were striking because Obama has released high-profile executive actions every few weeks as part of a “year of action” meant to bypass the Republicans who lead the House and who have refused to cede almost any legislative achievement to the president since taking control in 2010.

“Regardless of how hard I push, regardless of how many administrative actions I take, we’re not going to be able to go where we need to go, and can go, and should go unless I’ve got a Congress that’s willing to work with me,” Obama said at a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The comments underscored that despite many congressional battles, Obama still has a largely unfinished agenda with his remaining time in the White House disappearing. While his first two years in office — when Democrats were in charge of Congress — were notable for a range of legislative achievements, legacy-defining action on issues such as climate change and the economy has eluded him since 2010.

After his reelection, Obama tried to nurture relationships with congressional Republicans. When that failed to produce legislative achievements, he turned to executive actions while holding out hope that Republicans would cooperate on certain policies such as an overhaul of immigration laws.

His comments Thursday suggested that while he is still open to compromise, Obama now believes that deals with Republicans, especially in the House, are unlikely and that Congress must return to full Democratic control for him to secure substantial achievements in the final two years of his presidency.

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