WASHINGTON — Republican gains in U.S. elections next month could yield more bipartisan cooperation with the Obama administration instead of continuing the gridlock, a top White House official said Sunday.
"I'm hoping that with more seats, the Republicans will feel a greater responsibility to work with us to solve some of these problems," David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, told CBS's "Face the Nation."
Analysts expect a somewhat less ambitious legislative agenda from Obama in the second two years of his presidency, with the focus on delicate issues that demand a bipartisan approach, such as immigration and energy legislation.
Obama has branded Republicans as the party of "no" for their bitter opposition to his landmark healthcare and Wall Street reforms, and for blocking more government spending to boost hiring from fear of adding to the record U.S. budget deficit.
But voters, worried about the economy and stubbornly high unemployment near 10 percent, are expected to punish his Democrats in midterm congressional voting, and could hand control of the House to Republicans. Republicans are expected to make gains in the Democratic-controlled Senate as well.
All 435 seats in the House and 37 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate will be up for grabs on Nov. 2.
Axelrod said he does not believe Democrats would lose control of the House but he hopes for more cooperation with Republicans than had been the case in the past.
"The posture of the Republican Party from the moment we got here has been basically to deprive the president of bipartisan support so they could accuse him of not being bipartisan," he said.
Republicans say they opposed Obama because they believe his policies took the country in the wrong direction.
In the process, they have tapped into smoldering public anger over government bailouts of Wall Street, which his Republican predecessor George W, Bush passed to tackle the 2008 financial crisis, energizing conservatives with an anti-big government, pro tax-cutting message.
"We need to actually come together and begin to cut spending, rein in the size of government and get people back to work," Eric Cantor, No. 2 in the Republican House leadership, told "Fox News Sunday."
Obama has hinted at a quieter legislative period in the next two years of his presidency. He has acknowledged that the reforms he said he was forced to put in place to fix the problems that led up to the financial crisis now merit "a period of healing and consolidation and implementation that is less disruptive".
Other Democrats say a resurgent Republican Party on Capitol Hill that trimmed the size of the Democratic majority clearly would impact the kind of legislation that could be tackled.
"It may well be the case that there are some issues that we would have gotten passed last time that would not be able to pass this time," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said on CNN's "State Of The Union."
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