Obama on Thursday exhorted Congress, again, to pass his jobs bill. From start to finish, the president depends on friends in Congress even to introduce legislation, let alone pass it.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President Obama at his press conference Thursday once again pushed Congress to pass his jobs bill. That sort of exhortation is a normal part of the political process in a democracy. Mr. Obama can't enact the legislation all by himself, after all.
You knew that, of course. But here's something maybe you didn't know: He can't even introduce it by his lonesome.
It's true. Presidents have many powers. They can rally the nation, fire cabinet secretaries, and move US forces around the world. But they can't send the clerk of the House draft legislation and tell him or her to add it to the congressional agenda. Only elected lawmakers, duly sworn in, can do that.
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So when a president has something he wants considered, such as Obama's American Jobs Act, he has to recruit a friend or ally on Capitol Hill to help out.
That’s usually not too hard, of course. There’s almost always a willing member of the president’s party who comes to hand. Some important bills, such as the annual budget, get introduced by congressional leaders as a matter of course at the president’s request.