6 Nov 2014

US leaders vow to work together

12:48 pm on 6 November 2014

The US Senate's new Republican leader and President Barack Obama have both promised to end the political gridlock that has so frustrated American voters.

Mitch McConnell

Republican Mitch McConnell is to become the Senate majority leader. Photo: AFP

Republicans made historic gains in the mid-term elections and now control both legislative chambers.

Incoming Senate leader Mitch McConnell said he would make the ineffective Senate function and pass bills, the BBC reported.

Mr Obama said he was "eager to work with the new Congress to make the next two years as productive as possible".

The election campaign was characterised by widespread frustration expressed by voters about the inability of Congress to work together.

To the Americans who voted for change, the president said: "I hear you."

He told a White House news conference that both parties must address those concerns, but he admitted that as president he had a "unique responsibility to try to make this town work".

He will host a meeting at the White House with Democratic and Republican leaders, later this week.

"We can surely find ways to work together," Mr Obama said. "It's time for us to take care of business."

But he warned he would act on his own to reduce deportations and improve border security - action he had delayed until after the election, to the fury of some Latino voters.

Earlier yesterday, Mr McConnell pledged to make the Senate more productive.

"The Senate in the last few years basically doesn't do anything," he said. "We're going to go back to work and actually pass legislation."

He also vowed to "work together" with Mr Obama on issues where they can agree, such as trade agreements and tax reform.

Working within a two-party political system did not mean "we have to live in perpetual conflict", he added.

Also on Wednesday, the chairman of the Republican National Committee called resounding Republican mid-term victories a "direct rejection of the Obama agenda".

"[Americans] want nothing to do with the policies of Barack Obama," Reince Priebus told reporters.

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