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'We Are Not Doomed to Endless Gridlock': Obama

President Barack Obama celebrated a bipartisan "season of progress' on Thursday at a year-end news conference a few hours after the Senate ratified an arms control treaty with Russia.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama

In addition to cutting nuclear weapons and launchers, Obama said the pact will allow U.S. inspectors to "be back on the ground" in Russia.

"We are not doomed to endless gridlock," Obama told reporters at a news conference at the White House.

"So we'll be able to trust but verify, he said, quoting the late President Ronald Reagan in another in a string of bipartisan gestures of recent weeks.

The president said that after midterm elections on Nov. 2, many "predicted Washington would be headed for more partisanship and more gridlock. Instead, this has been a season of progress for the American people."

He added that the accomplishments of a postelection session of Congress demonstrate "we are not doomed to endless gridlock."

Obama spoke at a news conference a few hours after the Senate ratified the treaty he negotiated with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to reduce both nation's nuclear arsenals, the final major action of a productive postelection Congress.

In the six weeks since midterm elections he bluntly called a shellacking for his party, Obama has signed bipartisan legislation to prevent a spike in income taxes, cut Social Security taxes for one year and extend long-term jobless benefits through the end of 2011.

Earlier in the day, he placed his signature on another bill that will allow gay members of the armed forces to serve openly, and will soon sign a measure strengthening the safety of the nation's food supply. He also wrapped up a trade deal with South Korea.

The Senate's ratification of the arms control treaty was Obama's top foreign policy priority of the postelection session of Congress, and a victory the administration ground out over the past few weeks by securing the votes of Republicans. The top two GOP senators voted against the pact, although it was not clear how hard they worked to prevent its ratification.

Obama was flying to Hawaii later in the day, joining his wife and the couple's two children for a year-end holiday.

When he returns, it will be a few days before a new Congress convenes, with a House controlled by Republicans and a Senate with a shrunken Democratic majority.

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