April 4th, 2012
02:08 PM ET
Here at the White House we're seeing something this week that we haven't seen in a very long time: public bill signings attended by Republican and Democrats.
In recent months, as President Obama has positioned himself opposite an unpopular congress, he has shied away from the fanfare of signing ceremonies, once routine in the early months of his term. But today he signed the STOCK Act, aimed at preventing elected officials from using their professional knowledge for financial benefit, in a public ceremony at the White House. Tomorrow he will do the same with the JOBS Act, a bill that is supposed to make it easier for small businesses and start-ups raise investment dollars (though some critics say it won't create jobs and could increase risk for investors).
The last signing ceremony at the White House was in early February (a bill spearheaded by Democratic former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona) and, before that, November. In February, congress passed a substantial bill to fund the FAA and an extension of the payroll tax cut, a measure that received overwhelming bipartisan support and that Obama had pressed congress to pass. He signed both in private.
Republicans charged that he was playing politics, denying them a visual of bipartisanship in an election year. House Republican leaders have adopted a more conciliatory tone toward the president in recent months following a bruising battle on a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut in December. But not all Republicans want a picture standing next to the president. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did not make the trip. Noticeable among the handful of GOP lawmakers at todays signing ceremonies were those who are trying not to appear hyper-partisan as they face strong Democratic challengers in tough re-election races, including Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) and Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL).