Obama to Cooperate with Congress; Seeks New Authorisation to Fight IS

US President Barack Obama said he is ready to work with Republicans who cruised to victory and became the majority party in both chambers of Congress after Tuesday’s mid-term election after defeating the Democrats on Wednesday.

At a White House press conference held here Wednesday, Obama acknowledged that Republicans had "obviously" had a good midterm election, but expressed confidence that voters still support his ideas, Xinhua reported.

In his first public comments after his party’s midterm rout Tuesday, Obama said he believed the message sent by voters was similar to the one they’ve sent in the last few elections: Voters want Washington to get things done.

Obama said he would look forward to working with Republican leaders, not forgetting to make a point of complimenting incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The president, nevertheless, hailed his handling of the economy, saying he’s going full steam ahead with plans to take executive action on issues such as immigration.

He also touted the progress of his administration by pointing to growing numbers of people with insurance and more people with jobs, among a host of other strong economic indicators.

Obama defended his relationships with members of Congress by describing them as largely "cordial" and "constructive".

"Oftentimes though, we just haven’t been able to get what’s discussed in a leadership meeting through caucuses in the House and Senate to deliver a bill," he said.

Meanwhile, Obama said that he will ask Congress for a new authorisation to use military force against the Islamic State (IS) extremist group when he was outlining his near-term agenda for joint work with Congress.

"I’m going to begin engaging Congress over a new authorization to use military force against ISIL," Obama said at a White House press conference, using another acronym for the IS.

"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," he added.

The White House is justifying ongoing US-led airstrikes on the IS targets inside Iraq and Syria with an Iraqi request for assistance and a 2001 congressional authorisation to fight terrorists.

Obama said the idea of new authorisation is "to rightsize and update whatever authorisation Congress provides to suit the current fight, rather than previous fights."

"It makes sense for us to make sure that the authorisation from Congress reflects what we perceive to be not just our strategy over the next two or three months, but our strategy going forward,” he added.

The president has vowed to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State, a process he said would go well beyond his presidency that ends in January 2017.

(With inputs from IANS)

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