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Obama Invites Top Lawmakers to White House

President Obama makes a statement to reporters after meeting with his staff and Cabinet members at the White House in Washington, 04 Nov 2010
President Obama makes a statement to reporters after meeting with his staff and Cabinet members at the White House in Washington, 04 Nov 2010
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After the big Republican gains in Tuesday's U.S. elections, President Barack Obama has invited top Republican and Democratic lawmakers to meet with him at the White House.  

After meeting with his Cabinet on Thursday, President Obama said it is clear that the voters sent him a message.

"They want us to focus on the economy and jobs and moving this country forward.  They are concerned about making sure that taxpayer money is not wasted.  And they want to change the tone here in Washington," said the president.

In the new Congress which takes office in January, Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives, with current Minority Leader John Boehner likely becoming House Speaker.  The Democrats' majority in the Senate will shrink.

On November 18, Mr. Obama will host eight top lawmakers, from both parties, to discuss what can be done in the final days of this congressional session.

"This is going to be a meeting in which I want us to talk substantively about how we can move the American people's agenda forward.  It is not just going to be a photo op," he said.

The president has invited Boehner to the meeting, along with the outgoing Democratic House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and top Republican Mitch McConnell.  

Also invited are Eric Cantor, the number-two Republican in the House; Republican Senator Jon Kyl; Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Democratic Congressman Steny Hoyer, who has been mentioned as a possible Minority Leader if Pelosi steps down.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the president is hoping that this meeting with bipartisan congressional leaders will be the first of many.  

While efforts to boost the U.S. economy will be the main focus of the meeting, Mr. Obama says he will also stress the need for the Senate to soon ratify the new START nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia.

"This is not a traditionally Democratic or Republican issue, but rather an issue of American national security, and I am hopeful that we can get that done before we leave, and send a strong signal to Russia that we are serious about reducing nuclear arsenals, but also send a signal to the world that we are serious about nonproliferation," said President Obama.

The new START treaty would reduce U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles by one fourth.

After the Cabinet meeting the president also said his hope is that his trip to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan, which begins Friday, will lead to more American jobs.

"The primary purpose is to take a bunch of U.S. companies and open up markets, so that we can sell in Asia and some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, and we can create jobs here in the United States of America," he said.

The president said he hopes to be able to make some specific announcements during the trip about U.S. economic growth.  

Mr. Obama also plans a White House meeting for December 2 with newly-elected state governors, most of whom are Republicans.

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