U.S. President Barack Obama has invited the Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress to address ways to work together on key issues, after Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in mid-term elections.
Speaking after a Cabinet meeting Thursday, Mr. Obama said he called on the two leading Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Representative John Boehner, to meet with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the White House November 18. Boehner is expected to become the next speaker of the House when the new Congress takes office in January.
Mr. Obama said the meeting will focus on what can be done to address urgent economic issues before the new Congress takes office. He said it is important to move forward because the American people do not want the government to be locked in partisan debate and not accomplishing anything.
The president also has called for a meeting of newly elected Republican and Democratic state governors next month to hear their ideas and concerns from the state level.
Meanwhile, Senator McConnell will lay out some of his party's agenda Thursday, including a push to take the White House back from President Obama.
McConnell will address the issue in a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington. In excerpts from his prepared remarks, McConnell defends comments he made that the Republicans' top priority in the next two years should be to ensure President Obama does not get re-elected. McConnell says the only way for his party to accomplish its goals of repealing Mr. Obama's health care law, cutting spending and reducing the size of government is to put someone in the White House who will not veto such measures.
The next presidential election is in 2012.
Republicans won enough seats in Tuesday's vote to regain control of the House of Representatives, and took some seats from Democrats in the Senate as well.
Mr. Obama acknowledged his party took a heavy defeat in the polls, saying the Democratic losses reflect frustration with the troubled state of the economy.
Democrats and their independent allies have held on to at least 52 seats in the 100-member Senate, enough to maintain a thin majority. Two Senate seats are still undecided - one in the western state of Washington and the other in the far northwestern state of Alaska.
In Alaska, incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski staged a write-in challenge after losing the Republican nomination to Joe Miller, who won the party nomination with the backing of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and the conservative Tea Party movement. Results may not be known for two weeks. Partial results show there are more write-in votes than votes for Miller, although not all the write-ins may be for Murkowski.
Several races in the House of Representatives also are too close to call, and all of them involve Democratic incumbents.
The Republican victory represents a major comeback for the party, which lost control of the House and Senate to Democrats four years ago. All 435 seats in the House and 37 of the 100 Senate seats were at stake in the vote. Republicans also gained at least 11 state governor posts previously held by Democrats. There are still some gubernatorial races that have not been called.