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

Photogallery Kyiv: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins 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.
Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Weeki
X
August 29, 2014 2:18 AM
The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid