Boehner, McConnell 'focus, first, on jobs'

Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerTrump may pose problem for Ryan in Speaker vote Conservatives backing Trump keep focus on Supreme Court Vote House Republicans out MORE (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellPelosi blasts GOP leaders for silence on Trump Reid: Groping accusations show Trump’s ‘sickness’ GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election MORE (R-Ky.) laid out their agenda in an op-ed on Wednesday, calling for action on House-passed jobs bills and promising to prove skeptics wrong with accomplishments in the new Congress.

A day after Republicans won control of the Senate in a resounding blowout, the two Republican leaders wrote a joint op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, titled "Now We Can Get Congress Going."

They said they will "focus, first, on jobs and the economy," pointing to jobs bills that have passed the House but went nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate. 

They emphasized a strategy of pocketing smaller, bipartisan accomplishments to build trust early on, even as divisive issues, such as President Obama's executive action on immigration loom.

"These bills provide an obvious and potentially bipartisan starting point for the new Congress — and, for President Obama, a chance to begin the final years of his presidency by taking some steps toward a stronger economy," they wrote.

The Republican leaders singled out as priorities bills approving the Keystone pipeline, encouraging the hiring of veterans by allowing them to be exempted from ObamaCare's employer mandate, and loosening the definition of full-time workers requiring employer coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

While changes to ObamaCare have the potential to be contentious, the president has signaled openness to considering some changes to the law. 

The veterans hiring bill received 183 Democratic votes, when it passed the House this year, and the other two bills both received around 20 Democratic votes. 

BoehnerJohn BoehnerTrump may pose problem for Ryan in Speaker vote Conservatives backing Trump keep focus on Supreme Court Vote House Republicans out MORE and McConnell also point to bills to "expand America’s emerging energy boom and to support innovative charter schools around the country."

"Enacting such measures early in the new session will signal that the logjam in Washington has been broken, and help to establish a foundation of certainty and stability that both parties can build upon," they wrote.

In a more contentious move, they also write of "renewing our commitment to repeal ObamaCare." 

McConnell acknowledged at a press conference on Wednesday that Obama is "still there" and can veto ObamaCare repeal bills. He mentioned the possibility of repealing pieces, such as the medical device tax.

Boehner and McConnell emphasize restoring procedures that they lament have been lost. They say they will not consider "massive bills that few Americans have read and fewer understand."

"Instead, we will restore an era in which committees in both the House and Senate conduct meaningful oversight of federal agencies and develop and debate legislation; and where members of the minority party in both chambers are given the opportunity to participate in the process of governing," they wrote.

Senate Republicans, while in the minority, complained bitterly that Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidPelosi blasts GOP leaders for silence on Trump Latinos build a wall between Trump and White House in new ad The true (and incredible) story of Hill staffers on the industry payroll MORE (D-Nev.) did not allow them to offer many amendments to bills. 

In another area of possible bipartisanship, they reference an "insanely complex tax code that is driving American jobs overseas."

Both parties have expressed interest in tax reform, but there a range of hurdles. 

Boehner and McConnell acknowledged that many are skeptical of the chances of a divided and acrimonious Washington getting much done. 

"The skeptics say nothing will be accomplished in the next two years," they wrote. "As elected servants of the people, we will make it our job to prove the skeptics wrong."