It's in Republicans' interest to work with President Obama to pass legislation, an influential GOP chairman said Thursday.

Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), the incoming chairman of the House Rules Committee, said it was important for Republicans to find areas of agreement with Obama on legislation, and not simply stall for time until 2012's presidential election.

"Absolutely, because I'm an American before I'm a Republican," Dreier said Thursday during an appearance on NPR when asked if it was in the GOP's interest to craft legislation with the president.

"This country can't wait two years," Dreier added. "I really want to try and do things in a bipartisan way."

Republicans in the House face competing pressures as they prepare to take control of the chamber in January. More conservative members of the conference -- which accounts for many of the new members who were elected on Nov. 2 -- have made clear that they have little interest in compromising on core principles when it comes to taxes, healthcare reform, government spending and other issues.

But now that the GOP has a stake in the governing process, Democrats in the Senate and in the White House will have the ability to lean more heavily on House Republicans to produce meaningful legislation. The absence of any productivity could be a liability at the polls come 2012.

Dreier noted the competing agendas -- working with Obama versus opposing him -- and suggested that Republicans have to balance their new obligations and the message sent to lawmakers by voters in the election this fall.

"I think that we can find areas of agreement, and I know that we are determined to do everything we can to make that possible -- as long as we don't forget the mandate that came from the election," said the new rules chairman, who said that Republicans only have two years to prove themselves.