U.S. leaders pledge to work together

Nov 06, 2014, 5:48 AM EST
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014.
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The U.S. Senate's new Republican leader and President Barack Obama have both promised to end the political gridlock that has so frustrated American voters. The BBC reports:

Republicans made historic gains in the mid-term elections and now control both legislative chambers. Incoming Senate leader Mitch McConnell said he would make the ineffective Senate function and pass bills.

Mr Obama said he was "eager to work with the new Congress to make the next two years as productive as possible". The election campaign was characterised by widespread frustration expressed by voters about the inability of Congress to work together.

To the Americans who voted for change, the president said: "I hear you."

"We're going to go back to work and actually pass legislation."

He told a White House news conference that both parties must address those concerns, but he admitted that as president he had a "unique responsibility to try to make this town work".

On Friday, he will host a meeting at the White House with Democratic and Republican leaders.

President Barack Obama and his powerful U.S. Senate adversary struck a conciliatory tone on Wednesday, but Obama's plans to proceed with new immigration rules foreshadowed a bumpy start to his relationship with a Republican-controlled Congress. Reuters writes:

Obama and Mitch McConnell, who will become majority leader when Republicans take charge in the Senate in January, signaled they hoped to get past a previously frosty relationship to pass legislation on priorities on which they can both agree.

Republicans swept elections on Tuesday, capturing their biggest majority in the House of Representatives in more than 60 years and gaining a majority in the Senate for the first time since 2006.

The election result limits what Obama can achieve without bipartisan support during his final two years in office. "As president, I have a unique responsibility to try and make this town work," Obama, a Democrat, said at a White House news conference.

"So, to everyone who voted, I want you to know that I hear you." Obama lauded McConnell, with whom he said he hoped to share some Kentucky bourbon, and House Speaker John Boehner for expressing the wish to seek common ground after the elections.

He spoke to both men earlier in the day. McConnell said he believed Obama was interested in moving forward on trade agreements and tax reform, two issues at a standstill in Washington because of political differences.

"This gridlock and dysfunction can be ended. It can be ended by having a Senate that actually works," McConnell told reporters in his home state Kentucky.