News / USA

Obama, Republicans Sound Conciliatory Note After Talks; Differences Remain

President Barack Obama makes a statement in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on the White House campus in Washington about his meeting today with Republican and Democratic Congressional leaders, 30 Nov 2010
President Barack Obama makes a statement in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on the White House campus in Washington about his meeting today with Republican and Democratic Congressional leaders, 30 Nov 2010

President Barack Obama, and Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Congress met on Tuesday to discuss ways to avoid political gridlock when a new Congress convenes in January. Leaders sounded a conciliatory note after the meeting, but pointed to remaining differences.

Lasting about two hours, it was the first face-to-face discussion between Obama and Republican leaders since the November midterm elections that altered the balance of power in Washington.

The president, who for months derided Republicans as sideline critics of his economic recovery policies, faces a Republican majority in the House of Representatives that is able to thwart his legislative agenda.

Obama went in to Tuesday's meeting with two key agenda items - securing an extension of tax cuts for middle class Americans, but not for the wealthy; and achieving Senate ratification of a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia.

Obama provided this assessment of the talks, which included Republican and Democratic leaders from the House and Senate, Vice President Joe Biden, and key administration officials.

"The American people did not vote for gridlock; they did not vote for unyielding partisanship. They are demanding cooperation and they are demanding progress. And they will hold all of us - and I mean all of us - accountable for it. And I was very encouraged by the fact there was broad recognition of that fact in the room," he said.

Although he called the meeting productive, Obama made clear that disagreement remains on the tax cut issue, saying that Republicans continue to insist on extensions for all income levels that would require what he called an "unfair and unwise" $700 billion addition to the federal budget deficit.

To reach what the president called "sensible common ground," both sides agreed to create negotiating teams, headed on the White House side by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Obama's budget director Jack Lew. The president says he hopes for results from within days.

Speaking on Capitol Hill just after the meeting, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader John Boehner, who will become Speaker of the House in January, also sought to emphasize the positive tone of the meeting.

"I think we all agreed there is no particular reason why we can't find areas of agreement and do some important things for the American people over the next two years," McConnell said.

"We had a very nice meeting today.  Of course, we have had a lot of very nice meetings.  The question is: Can we find the common ground that the American people expect us to find?," said Boehner.

Despite talk about finding common ground, Tuesday's meeting did not produced concrete results on taxes or Senate ratification of the New START treaty with Russia.

Republicans say action on both issues should be postponed until next year when a new Congress convenes, something McConnell emphasized in his remarks after the talks.

Noting that finding common ground will not be easy, President Obama expressed satisfaction with what he called the civil atmosphere of Tuesday's talks, adding everyone appeared to recognize they cannot play political power games. "I think there was a sincere effort on the part of everybody involved to actually commit to work together, to try to deal with these problems.  They understand that these aren't times for us to be playing games," he said.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that the president saw the meeting as a "productive beginning" and that he told Republican lawmakers he recognized the importance of improving communications with them. "The president acknowledged that he needed to do better and acknowledged that, rightly, he would do his part," Gibbs said.

Obama said he views Tuesday's talks as only the first in a series of meetings aimed at establishing the groundwork for the president, Democrats and Republicans to work together in coming months.

To that end, Obama said he plans to invite lawmakers to take part in additional meetings, some of which could take place early next year at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs