White House Rebuffs 22nd Amendment
New York Times
August 14, 2009
WASHINGTON-- Last year, candidate Barack Obama promised sweeping changes to the way that Washington politics was carried out. Since his election last November, the President has met with members of the opposition Republican Party and has pushed for bipartisan solutions to economic, health care, and other policy decisions.
The President has also been bold enough to enact changes independently. In a move cheered by many, the Guantanamo Bay prison facility is slowly being closed and United States combat troops are leaving Iraq. Bush-era surveillance laws have been rolled back and the President traveled to Europe to repair shattered alliances.
The President is perhaps attempting his largest change to the way that American politics is conducted. According to White House chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, President Obama is considering asking the Congress to repeal the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution.
The 22nd Amendment, ratified in 1951, excludes any sitting President from serving more than two terms in office. Enacted under President Truman, this law has affected many Presidents and is seen as limiting their political capital. There have been multiple pushes to repeal the amendment, but fears of consolidation of power in the executive branch have stalled efforts.
However, with the results of the 2008 elections and the ascension of massive Democratic majorities in both Congressional elections, there appears to be more of a chance of repealing the amendment.
Emanuel stated that the President's top priority at the current moment was health care reform. However, after the August Congressional recess is complete and the plan is "passed as expected", Emanuel stated that the President will start a public campaign to pressure Congress to overturn the 22nd Amendment.
Part of the campaign is expected to take place with interviews of the President, as well as advertisements in newspapers and on television. Websites such as the Daily Kos and MoveOn.org have reportedly already signed on to the White House plan.
According to sources in Emanuel's office, much of the publicity campaign will attempt to isolate Republicans as standing against the President's political agenda and the future of the United States.
"Expect this to be a big fight." Emanuel said, "But think of it. The President just turned 48. He is one of the youngest Presidents in history and could serve for decades if the American people decide that he is still right for the job. We should never deny the people their rights to elect whom they choose."
Congressional Republicans have yet to comment on the plan, but at least one member has expressed doubt over the plan. Senator Joseph Lieberman, the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2000, stated that the idea of repealing the 22nd Amendment was "unacceptable."
Reza Havapeyma in Hartford, CT and Nathan Frankel in New York contributed to this report.
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