(Bloomberg) — Two former top U.S. Senate leaders predicted there will be room for compromise on significant policy issues between President Barack Obama and the new Republican-led Congress, even on immigration policy.
“There are some areas where clearly I believe that the president working with the Congress can make some progress,” former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, a Republican, said on the Charlie Rose program that aired Thursday on PBS.
“You’ve got Mitch McConnell saying a lot of the right things,” Tom Daschle, a Democrat and also a former Senate majority leader, said on the same program. He was referring to Senator McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who is poised to become majority leader.
Lot and Daschle also talked about how the new Congress might approach health policy.
See also: GOP Patient Rights Bill Prevails.
Republicans won at 245 seats in the House of Representatives seats on Nov. 4, giving Republicans their largest majority since World War II. The party gained at least seven Senate seats, more than enough to take control in January.
Daschle said that, while President Barack Obama must honor his pledge to issue executive orders easing immigration laws, the focus should be on agreeing on legislation with Congress.
“It can be an installment,” he said, “to a series of things that could be done.”
Lott served as majority leader from 1996 to 2001, while Daschle was majority leader from 2001 to 2003. Their assessment that there is space for compromise on immigration policy goes against what many in Washington are predicting based on signals from Obama and Republican leaders.
Obama yesterday repeated a promise to take action by the end of the year to halt deportations for some undocumented immigrants if Congress doesn’t move on rewriting U.S. law.
House Speaker John Boehner said Obama will “burn himself if he continues to go down this path.” He spoke at a news conference today in Washington, one day after McConnell said executive action by Obama on immigration would be like “waving a red flag in front of a bull.”