President Obama and the GOP-controlled Congress have a busy September ahead of them with several major policy debates to get through. Speaking to a group of Democratic donors in Nevada on Monday night, a self-described “feisty” commander-in-chief opened up about his critics and signaled how contentious the next few months could be.
“It’s hard for me to express how much I love Harry Reid,” Obama said at a fundraiser for Catherine Cortez Masto, a former state attorney general who is running to replace the outgoing Senate Minority Leader.
“We were doing a little reminiscing and then figuring out how we’re going to deal with the crazies in terms of managing some problems,” the president joked.
Obama didn’t single out any particular opponent or issue, according to a pool report of his roughly 13-minute speech, but he later urged Congress not to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal.
“The world is counting on us for leadership around the world,” according to the president.
While the congressional vote on the nuclear accord is expected to dominate Capitol Hill for most of next month, it’s just one of a host of issues awaiting lawmakers, including a transportation funding bill and potential budget talks to keep the government running.
Obama’s remark, while not surprising given the partisan setting, is open to interpretation and could prove detrimental to finding a solution to all of those problems, especially as House GOP leaders are trying to lower the temperature within its caucus over the federal budget.
House leadership is looking for a way to decouple the controversy over federal funding for Planned Parenthood from must-pass spending bills and avoid a potentially embarrassing government shutdown, according to Politico.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and other social conservatives have called on GOP leaders to close the government’s doors rather than help fund the healthcare agency that has come under intense scrutiny after hidden-camera videos showed some of its controversial abortion practices.
Instead of shuttering the government, leadership is trying to muster support to create a special panel to investigate Planned Parenthood, much like the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is hardly one to look for political cover from the president, but Obama’s “crazies” comment could hamper the effort and give already skeptical Republicans even less incentive to come to the negotiating table and hammer out a budget deal.
Maybe realizing he’d gone too far, Obama chided Democrats, saying they “are not perfect and also act irrationally at times.
“There are some folks in our party who sometimes are dogmatic,” Obama said before turning his fire back at the GOP. “But Democrats govern. Democrats are willing to do things that are hard.”
That might be hard to do if Republicans use the president’s remarks to paint themselves as the offended party that tried to find a way around the looming fiscal impasse.