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Obama team no decisions on reversing bush orders

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U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s team cautioned on Monday he had not yet decided whether to reverse executive orders on topics such as stem cell research and oil drilling imposed by President George W. Bush.

Members of Obama’s transition team had said on Sunday that he would move swiftly once in office from Jan. 20 to strike down some of the Bush executive orders that Democrats have long battled.

"Across the board, whether it’s national security, the economy, the senior leadership that will manage health care, energy and the environment, I think he intends to move very quickly," Obama transition co-chairman John Podesta had said on "Fox News Sunday."

But Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter issued a statement on Monday pledging that Obama would discuss any executive orders with both Democrats and Republicans as well as with nominees of his Cabinet, none of whom has been selected yet.

"President-elect Obama will honor the commitment he made during the campaign to review all executive orders, but this process has not yet begun and no decisions have been made," she said.

"The president-elect has pledged to run an open and inclusive government, so before he makes any decisions on potential executive or legislative actions, he will be conferring with congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, as well as interested groups."

The statement, issued after Obama met Bush at the White House, reflected the cautious stance Obama is taking as he adapts to being president-elect and takes a fresh look at issues that have roiled U.S. politics for years.

New presidents typically issue a variety of executive orders shortly after taking office. These are orders that can be issued directly by the president and do not need approval by Congress.

Many Americans have long opposed Bush’s position banning the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. Stem cell advocates are eagerly awaiting Obama’s rescinding of the order, while the Bush White House believes his firm stance led to breakthroughs on research of adult stem cells.

With the U.S. government about to open some 360,000 acres (nearly 145,700 hectares) of public land in Utah to oil and gas drilling, environmentalists are pressuring Obama to stop that from happening.

On the other hand, Obama pledged on the campaign trail to wean the United States from overseas oil and, under pressure from Republican opponent John McCain, had agreed to consider more offshore drilling.



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