“The American voters sent us a message two Tuesdays ago. That message is that they want us to deliver. They want us to work together,” Reid said. “The voters didn’t elect only Republicans. They didn’t elect only Democrats. And they don’t want either party to govern stubbornly, demanding their way or the highway.”
But Senate Republicans disagree, and strongly, citing historic GOP gains in the House and state legislatures, not to mention a pickup of seven Senate seats over 2008. After arguing for several months that public polling proved that GOP intransigence on health care reform, taxes and federal spending was supported by the voters, Senate Republicans view the election results as a mandate for GOP policies.
“What we’ve seen over the last two years is that the president might have a silver tongue, but he also has a tin ear,” said Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.). “He hasn’t listened to the American people; he’s ignored them on jobs and the economy, on debt and on spending, and we heard [the voters] loudly and clearly and we spoke to that.”
On the House side, Republicans are similarly confident that voters gave them permission to pursue their legislative agenda, and they aren’t waiting for the 112th Congress to be sworn in to begin. House Republican aides said Monday that the GOP would continue to push its pre-election agenda for an across-the-board extension of the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, as well as a spending freeze.
House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) said conservatives were well aware of their newfound power even if they remain in the minority for a few more weeks.
“Let me say as we gather in this lame-duck session in the coming weeks, there must be no compromise,” Pence told a group of tea party activists gathered at a rally on the House side of the Capitol. “There must be no compromise on preventing a tax increase on any American. And there must be no compromise in our commitment to repeal Obamacare.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.