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Confrontations await Obama

Updated: 2014-11-17 11:33

The House passed a measure to move the project forward on Friday, and the Senate is set to act. But Obama has all but threatened a veto, repeatedly saying the only way the pipeline can be approved is after the completion of a long-stalled State Department review.

"We have to let the process play out," he said.

On Iran, Obama faces a deadline to reach a final agreement in sensitive nuclear negotiations. High-level talks in Oman last week failed to make major headway, potentially setting Obama up for a choice between pursuing another extension or abandoning the diplomatic effort.

The president has asked the Congress to start debating a new authorization for his airstrike campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, though he expects the legislative effort to pick up next year when Republicans take control of the Senate. The debate comes as Obama faces questions from within his own administration, including from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, about the effectiveness of the military operation, particularly in Syria.

Hagel said in a memo to White House national security adviser Susan Rice that Obama needed a clearer strategy for dealing with embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.

White House officials have denied that Obama is undertaking any formal review of his Syria strategy and the president said Sunday that he was not considering ways to oust Assad.

Also on the agenda: getting the Senate to confirm his nominee for attorney general, federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch. The White House is not pushing for that in the postelection session of Congress, and says the president is leaving the timing up to Senate leadership.

Democrats are reluctant to push a fight with an empowered GOP over the process and White House officials say they are confident Lynch will be confirmed even with Republicans in control. The GOP takes over in January.

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