February 11, 2013

Obama preparing to move forward with new executive actions

The president prepares to work around Congress, but also risks angering Republican lawmakers.

By ZACHARY A. GOLDFARB The Washington Post

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Barack Obama
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President Obama is expected this week to call for the creation of new standards on what critical private-sector companies should do to protect their computer systems from hackers.

2013 file photo/The Associated Press

As early as this week, the White House is expected to release an executive order on cybersecurity that calls for stronger standards for critical private-sector computer systems.

The effort would apply to industries such as transportation that are regulated by executive-branch agencies. It would also increase the amount of computer-threat data that the government shares with companies.

Throughout his first term, Obama turned frequently to the use of executive powers in the national-security arena, pursuing a campaign to overturn Libya's government and making use of drones to kill suspected terrorists overseas. Lawmakers of both parties sparred with the administration last week over secretive anti-terrorism programs employing drone strikes and targeted killings.

Obama's moves on domestic policies began more recently after he concluded that Republicans in Congress were unlikely to pass many of the major items on his agenda.

Under the slogan "We Can't Wait," Obama took actions beginning in late 2011 to boost the housing market, lower payments on student loans and delay deportation of young illegal immigrants.

In the months ahead, some people close to the White House said Obama must weigh the prospect of making progress on his priorities with the risk that acting aggressively could hurt the chances for more substantial legislation on Capitol Hill.

"That has to be part of an analysis of what are his powers under the Constitution and statutes of the United States," said John Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, who used executive actions in the face of a hostile Congress in his second term.


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