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

Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More