He plans quick action on stem cells, oil drilling, aides say
WASHINGTON – President-elect Obama plans to use his executive powers to make an immediate impact when he takes office, perhaps reversing Bush administration policies on stem cell research and domestic drilling for oil and natural gas.
Obama transition chief John Podesta said Sunday that Obama is reviewing President Bush’s executive orders on those issues and others as he works to undo policies enacted during eight years of Republican rule.
“There’s a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we’ll see the president do that,” Podesta said. “I think that he feels like he has a real mandate for change.”
Podesta also said that Obama, seeking to build a diverse Cabinet, will reach out to Republicans and independents. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been mentioned as a possible holdover.
Obama was elected on a promise of change, but the nature of the job makes it difficult for presidents to do much that has an immediate impact on the lives of average people. Congress plans to take up a second economic aid plan before year’s end, an effort Obama supports. But it could be months or longer before taxpayers see the effect.
One of Bush’s first acts as president was to reinstate full abortion restrictions on U.S. overseas aid. The restrictions were first ordered by President Ronald Reagan, and the first President George Bush followed suit. President Bill Clinton lifted them soon after he took over the Oval Office, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Obama did the same.
Bush used his executive power to limit federal spending on embryonic stem cell research, a position championed by abortion opponents, who contend that destroying embryos is akin to killing a fetus.
Obama has supported the research in an effort to find cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s.