The president has asked federal agencies to find solutions on their own. His message to lawmakers: We can do this without you.
President Obama is either fed up with Congress or he's testing his own administration's mettle. Or both.
On Wednesday, Obama took a now-familiar path in adopting a program--this time a jobs and infrastructure effort--that can happen entirely within his domain. Obama directed several federal agencies to identify "high-impact, job-creating infrastructure projects" that can be expedited now, without congressional approval.
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One week before he will make a major address to Congress on jobs, Obama is making sure they know he plans to move forward without them. The president has also directed the Education Department to come up with a "Plan B" updating the 2001 No Child Left Behind law in the absence of congressional action. The message to Congress is clear: Do your work or we'll do it for you.
Under Wednesday's order, the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Transportation will each select up to three high-priority infrastructure projects that can be completed within the control and jurisdiction of the federal government. The effort is labeled as a "common-sense approach" to spurring job growth "in the near term." In practical terms, that means speeding up the permitting and waiver processes for green-building or highway projects to get the government out of the way. One of businesses' foremost complaints with government infrastructure projects is that the paperwork is too cumbersome and creates unnecessary delays, according to White House economic advisers.