Boehner: Focus on ‘common ground’ to help avoid fiscal cliff

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will deliver a statement Wednesday afternoon on the need for both Republicans and Democrats to find some agreement to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff — a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled for 2013.

Boehner's office said he would call on both sides to seek "common ground" to help the economy and create jobs, which in turn would help reduce the national debt.

Boehner is scheduled to speak at 3:30 p.m. in the Capitol.

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Leaders from both parties have expressed optimism that finding cooperation on the fiscal cliff would be somewhat easier post-election. But Tuesday's vote essentially cemented in place the federal government that has tussled over these issues for the past two years, failing to find common ground.

The makeup of the House in the 113th Congress will be very similar to the House in the 112th. Currently, there are 240 Republicans and 190 Democrats. According to CNN, 231 Republicans and 190 Democrats won reelection on Tuesday, and some races are still too close to call, including those involving Reps. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Allen West (R-Fla.).

Democrats maintained control of the Senate; as of Wednesday morning, Democrats have 51 seats, and Republicans have 45, with a few races left to be decided.


After defeating Mitt Romney 303 electoral votes to 206, President Obama said he would work with Romney and other Republican leaders.

"Whether I have earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you and you have made me a better president," Obama added. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday also extended an olive branch to Republicans. 

"I look at the challenges that we have ahead of us and I reach out to my Republican colleagues in the Senate and the House. Let’s come together. We know what the issues are; let’s solve them," Reid said.

While Boehner expressed readiness to work with Democrats, he also cautioned the president that the reelection of the House Republican majority meant there was "no mandate for raising tax rates” on the American people.

Boehner has also suggested in recent days that he believed a "grand bargain" to avert the fiscal cliff was unlikely during the lame-duck session. In an interview with CNN, Boehner said he expected lawmakers to work on a temporary fix to avert the fiscal cliff. 

"Lame-duck Congresses aren't known for doing big things and probably shouldn't do big things, so I think the best you can hope for is a bridge," the Speaker told CNN on Sunday.

The White House on Wednesday made clear that it believes President Obama, and not Boehner, now has an "advantage" in the fiscal cliff talks.

"The president was very clear last night in his speech that he wants to work with Republicans on this challenge and the election made very clear that the Republican approach of tax cuts for the wealthy at all costs didn't work," a White House official said.

The official added that "we feel we have an advantage now to get a solution on this issue."

As tough as a deal might be, President Obama said in October that he believes a "grand bargain" can be struck in 2013, now that the election is out of the way.

"It won't be pleasant," he told the Des Moines Register in an off-the-record interview that he later allowed to be released.

"But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I've been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our healthcare programs," Obama said.

This story was posted at 7:51 a.m. and updated at 11:20 a.m.

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