Obama telephones Republican, Democratic legislative leaders
(CNN) -- President Barack Obama telephoned key congressional leaders on Wednesday, including the top Republican in both the House and Senate, an Obama official told reporters traveling with the president.
He placed the calls "to talk about the legislative agenda for the remainder of the year" and discuss the message that he believed voters sent on Tuesday, according to a statement on the calls provided to the reporters.
Obama called House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, as well the top-ranking Democrats on Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, it read.
"The President reiterated his commitment to finding bipartisan solutions to: reduce our deficit in a balanced way, cut taxes for middle class families and small businesses and create jobs," the statement said. "The President said he believed that the American people sent a message in yesterday's election that leaders in both parties need to put aside their partisan interests and work with common purpose to put the interests of the American people and the American economy first."
Congress will remain divided between the two parties in the next session, with Republicans retaining control of the House and Democrats holding onto the Senate.
The most pressing issue facing Washington in the lame duck session of Congress is the fiscal cliff, a series of spending cuts and tax hikes set to go into effect in the new year. The package, known as "the sequester," was put in place as an incentive and consequence for the so-called "super committee," to reach an agreement on $1.2 trillion in federal budget deficit reduction over a decade.
But the committee failed a year ago this month, and since then the two parties have been at a stalemate, primarily over whether new revenue - tax increases - should accompany spending reductions.
Reid, a Democrat, said Wednesday morning that "compromise is not a dirty word."
"It is better to dance than to fight. It is better to work together," he said at a news conference. "Everything doesn't have to be a fight. Everything doesn't have to be a fight. That is the way it's been the last couple of years. Everyone should comprehend, especially my Senate friends, that legislation is the art of compromise. It is consensus building."
Boehner will speak Wednesday afternoon on the fiscal cliff, his office said.