Washington (AFP) – U.S. President Barack Obama promised to work with his Republican opponents Wednesday after their midterm election victory and asked them to help him fight both Ebola and Islamic State jihadists.
But he also warned that he would take executive action on immigration before the end of the year, whether or not the new Congress makes progress towards a bipartisan reform bill on the emotive issue.
“Obviously, Republicans had a good night,” he admitted, a day after Republicans seized control of the Senate from Obama’s Democrats and increased their majority in the House of Representatives.
“I’m eager to work with the new Congress to make the next two years as productive as possible,” Obama said, while warning that there may still be some legislation that he would feel obliged to veto.
“That’s natural. That’s how our democracy works,” he said. “But we can surely find ways to work together on issues where there’s broad agreement among the American people.”
Obama said he would ask the new Congress for help in battling the spread of Ebola in West Africa and beyond, and for support for US-led military action against jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
“First, I’ve submitted a request to Congress for funding to ensure that our doctors, scientists, and troops have the resources that they need to combat the spread of Ebola in Africa and to increase our preparedness for any future cases here at home,” Obama said.
That request is for more than $6 billion in emergency funding to fight the deadly epidemic.
“Second, I’m going to begin engaging Congress over a new authorization to use military force against ISIL,” he said, using the White House’s preferred acronym for the Islamic State group.
On immigration, Obama said he would prefer to see Congress agree a comprehensive bill to provide a path to citizenship for deserving undocumented U.S. residents and would-be immigrants.
But he said he would act alone through executive action to make what changes he can if lawmakers continue to stall.
“Before the end of the year, we’re going to take whatever lawful actions we can take that I believe will improve the functioning of our immigration system,” he said.
AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski