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After midterm wins, GOP vows to block Obama's agenda
Boehner pledged that Republicans would "do everything we can to try to repeal this [health-care] bill and replace it with common-sense reforms that'll bring down the cost of health insurance."
Democrats, for their part, received a boost Wednesday from Colorado, where Democrat Michael Bennet declared victory in his hotly contested race against Republican Ken Buck.
One of the few bright spots for Democrats on Election Day came in Nevada. There, in the most closely watched race of the year, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid defeated Sharron Angle, the tea party Republican who carried the hopes of conservatives across the country to beat the Senate's most powerful Democrat.
Reid made the rounds of morning television shows Wednesday, calling for newly empowered Republicans and humbled Democrats to find a way to bridge their differences.
"What we need to do is stop using words like 'chastened,' and recognize that all of us who are going to be in the U.S. Senate have to work together," Reid told MSNBC.
But in the nation's capital Tuesday night, Republicans staged a jubilant victory party. "Across the country right now, we are witnessing a repudiation of Washington, a repudiation of big government and a repudiation of politicians who refuse to listen to the people," said an emotional Boehner, who is now poised to become the next House speaker.
Obama called Boehner and McConnell Tuesday night once it was clear that the House had fallen to the GOP. The president said he looked forward to working with Republicans "to find common ground, move the country forward and get things done for the American people," according to the White House. Boehner, according to aides, said he will deal with the president in a "straightforward and honest" way.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who became the target of Republicans in their campaigns, issued a statement early Wednesday. "The outcome of the election does not diminish the work we have done for the American people," she said. "We must all strive to find common ground to support the middle class, create jobs, reduce the deficit and move our nation forward."
Reid said Wednesday that his number-one priority as majority leader will be "to help create jobs. The only thing that's going to solve our economic problems in this country is jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs. And I'm going to do everything I can to create jobs."
Republican candidates were propelled by a combination of voter anxiety about the economy and a significant shift in sentiment among independents, who were critical to Obama's 2008 victory and to the Democrats' takeover of Congress in 2006. Democratic efforts to rally young people and minorities also fell short. Both groups voted in smaller percentages than two years ago.
In House races, Democratic incumbents fell throughout the night as, from the moment the polls began to close, Republicans marched steadily toward the 39 seats they needed to win the majority. The GOP crossed that threshold before midnight and continued to pick up seats as the counting went on in the West.
By Wednesday morning, Republican gains hit 60 seats. That wiped out all the gains that Democrats made in 2006 and 2008 and slid past the 54 seats the GOP achieved in its 1994 landslide. Republicans picked up at least three seats in each of the following states: Florida, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.