Obama vows outreach to Republicans

Roger Runningen and Phil Mattingly
Bloomberg News

President Barack Obama said Tuesday’s elections that swept Republicans to a majority in the Senate sent a message that voters want him and lawmakers to “get stuff done.”

Obama said he spoke to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner to offer congratulations and the chance to find ways to get legislation through Congress over his final two years in office.

While promising to find common ground with Republicans, Obama repeatedly said he wants to see their agenda and warned that neither side will get everything it wants.

“Congress will pass some bills I cannot sign,” Obama said today at a White House news conference. “I’m pretty sure I will take some actions some in Congress will not like. That’s natural.”

Capitalizing on voter anger over Obama’s handling of the economy and other issues, Republicans yesterday won at least seven U.S. Senate seats that had been controlled by Democrats, giving them 52 votes in the 100-member chamber, and widened their majority in the House to the largest in about six decades.

Obama said the result showed that Americans are tired of the legislative gridlock of recent years. He said he would press ahead with his own agenda on immigration and the economy even as he offered to reach out to the Republican majority in Congress.

He said he would keep his pledge to use executive authority to cut deportations of some undocumented immigrants until Congress acts to write a new immigration law, which has been a point of contention between Obama and congressional Republicans. “What I’m not going to do is just wait,” he said.

McConnell said at his own news conference today in Kentucky that Obama taking such action would be “like waving a red flag in front of a bull.”

The president has invited congressional leaders from both parties to a White House meeting on Nov. 7, part of which will be devoted to the agenda items he wants to finish before the new Congress takes office in January. Among them is $6.2 billion in emergency funding to stem the spread of Ebola and an authorization for using military force against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.