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The compromises made over the past couple of months between President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats and Republicans could be the start of a new bipartisan atmosphere in the nation’s capital, Sen. John McCain said Sunday.
“With the new appointments, with an agenda where he wants free-trade agreements passed ... I think there’s going to be a number of areas where we find common ground,” the Arizona Republican said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
In a Washington Post editorial last week, McCain thanked the president for the speech he gave at the memorial service for those hurt and killed in the attack against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), and he reiterated his appreciation Sunday.
McCain said that Obama called him recently and that the two 2008 presidential election opponents had a “pleasant conversation.” McCain told the president they should work together to give him and future presidents line-item veto power, the Senator said.
“That is going to be necessary for this and other presidents to be able to really curb the excessive spending and earmarking that unfortunately still might go on or may have a resurgence over time,” McCain said.
He added that Republicans must follow through on their 2010 campaign trail promises to vote on a bill that would repeal the health care overhaul law. “We have to have a vote on repeal so that everybody is on record whether they want to repeal,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised earlier on “Fox News Sunday” that Republicans will be successful in forcing the vote, even though Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has insisted he won’t let that happen.
Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the Democratic Conference vice chairman, appeared after McCain and conceded that McConnell has the right to offer the repeal language as an amendment. But, he warned, Democrats have a response planned.
“We will require them to vote on the individual protections in the [law] that are very popular, and that even some of the new Republican House Members say they support,” Schumer said. “So in the end, their repeal bill is going to have so many holes it looks like Swiss cheese.”
“At the end of the day,” he added, “their effort to repeal is not going to work at all.”
Both McCain and Schumer said this year’s trend of sitting alongside members of the opposite party at the State of the Union address is only symbolic but still important.
McCain, who will sit next to Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), said he hopes the move will help keep Members from jumping up and applauding so much, which he finds to be a distraction from the president’s message.
Schumer will be next to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), whom Schumer described as “a very conservative Republican.”
“If Coburn and Schumer can sit next to each other, then probably just about everyone can,” Schumer said. “Maybe we can come together to solve America’s problems, and I hope we will.”