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Pelosi Urges Congressional Bipartisanship in Working with President-Elect Obama


House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democrats look forward to working with President-elect Barack Obama on bipartisan solutions to the U.S. financial crisis and other problems. As VOA's Dan Robinson reports, Pelosi says increased numbers of Democrats in the House and Senate should enable Congress to accomplish more.

In a note of bipartisanship, Pelosi said Wednesday that when President-elect Obama takes over in the White House in January, he will have to listen to ideas from all points on the political spectrum, and govern from the middle.

"At a time of this economic crisis, our priority should be very clear about what we need to do," she said. "Each side of the spectrum can hope to influence the decision. But the fact is that a new president coming in, in my view, must take the country down the middle to solve the problems, to gain the confidence, to take us more strongly in a new direction."

Pelosi said the expanded Democratic majorities in the House and Senate give the party the opportunity and the responsibility to find common ground.

Given what she called two historic political waves for Democrats -- the 2006 mid-term elections and this week's elections -- Pelosi said Americans will hold Congress even more accountable.

As for what many congressional Democrats assert has been Republican obstructionism on issues ranging from Iraq war policy to the economy, Pelosi said she hopes for fewer obstacles posed by Republicans to moving legislation through the Senate.

"That one motivation for a roadblock, which is to protect the president from a veto, will no longer be part of their motivation," she said. "And I think in the spirit of working in a bipartisan way, we will soon find out if people want to be part of the solution."

Democrats are still expected to call Congress back for a post-election session this month, to focus on a proposed new multi-billion dollar economic stimulus measure. Republican congressional leaders have acknowledged that the election results underscore the need to change the way they deliver their message, although they insist their core principals will remain unchanged.

Pelosi says she hopes Senate Republicans will allow the new economic stimulus package to be taken up and that President Bush will support it. Democratic spending proposals have so far met with skepticism at the White House.

Also on Wednesday, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee attributed election results to a withering political environment, encompassing an unpopular war in Iraq and economic problems, as well as overwhelming Democratic campaign spending.

At the same time, Mike Duncan asserted that the election results do not constitute the end of Republican conservative principles, saying that President-elect Obama will need their help.

"If President-elect Obama stands by his word to fulfill the moderate, conservative campaign promises that got him elected, the Republican Party will stand with him," he said. "If he stands, instead, with the hardened leaders of the most liberal Congress in a generation, we must stand against him, and for and with the center-right nation that we serve."

Howard Dean is Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. "I think the message of the election is clear," he said. "Americans have given all of us -- Democrats, Republicans and Independents -- a simple mandate to work together to find big solutions to the big challenges that face our country."

Senator Obama is reported to have reached into the House Democratic leadership on Wednesday to select Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, as his chief of staff.

Emanuel, who has not yet said if he will take the post, served as a top political advisor to former President Bill Clinton, and played a central role in building and expanding the Democratic majority on Capitol Hill.

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