WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Barack Obama held an afternoon news conference Wednesday to share his take on the midterm election results.
“The United States has big things to do,” the president said as he spoke from the East Room.
As CBS2’s Craig Boswell reported, Tuesday’s midterm elections dealt a harsh verdict for Democrats, who lost control of the Senate, lost more turf in the GOP-controlled House and put a series of Democratic-leaning states under control of new Republican governors.
President Obama said the most important thing that stood out to him following the election results was that the American people expect the people that they elect “to work as hard as they do.”
Obama said the Republican victories are a sign they want Washington “to get the job done.”
“To everyone who voted, I want you to know that I hear you. To the two-thirds who chose not to participate in the process yesterday. I hear you too,” the President said.
He added that this new Congress has a responsibility to keep that sentiment, but acknowledged as president he has a “unique responsibility to try to make this town work.”
A record 20 million voters turned out for the midterm elections, giving the GOP the biggest House majority since Harry Truman was president 60 years ago.
Republican Mitch McConnell led the way to a new Senate majority, dispatching Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky.
“The American people have spoken. They have given us divided government. The question for both the President, and the speaker, and myself is, ‘what are we going to do with it?'” McConnell said.
GOP candidates also picked up seats in Iowa, West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana — all seats formerly held by Democrats. They could add to their numbers in races in Virginia and Alaska that have yet to be called.
“The Democrat who counts is the President of the United States. Democrats in Congress will support whatever he agrees to do,” McConnell added.
Despite the blows to his party, Obama said he is eager to work with this new Congress to make the next two years as productive as possible.
“It’s time for us to take care of business,” he said.
The president also outlined three items that he looks to work with Congress on over the next several weeks before the holiday break in Washington.
First, Obama said he will submit a request to Congress for $6.2 billion to help combat Ebola in the U.S. and overseas.
“…to ensure that our doctors, scientists and troops have the resources that they need to combat the spread of Ebola in Africa and to increase our preparedness for any future cases here at home,” he said.
The president said he also intends to ask Congress for new authorization to use military force against ISIS.
“The world needs to know we are united behind this effort and the men and women of our military deserve our clear and unified support,” Obama said.
And lastly, Obama urged Congress to pass a budget for the rest of the fiscal year.
“Back in September Congress passed shorterm legislation to keep the government open and operating into December. That gives Congress five weeks to pass a budget for the rest of the fiscal year. And I hope that they’ll do it in the same bipartisan, drama-free way that they did earlier this year.”
President Obama also vowed to act by year’s end to improve immigration system and border security.
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