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News Wrap: Obama Challenges GOP to Cooperate

February 9, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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In other news Tuesday, President Obama issued another challenge to Republicans in Congress to cooperate on a host of issues, and also warned Iran over its nuclear program.
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TRANSCRIPT

JIM LEHRER: But, first, the other news of the day.

And here’s Hari Sreenivasan in our newsroom.

HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama issued another challenge to Republicans today to cooperate on a host of issues. He met with leaders of both parties at the White House. It was the first time Republican leaders had been there in two months. Later, Mr. Obama said he’s ready to do his part on health care, for instance.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I am going to be starting from scratch in the sense that I will be open to any ideas that help promote these goals.

What I will not do, what I don’t think makes sense and I don’t think the American people want to see, would be another year of partisan wrangling around these issues.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Republicans sounded skeptical. House Minority Leader John Boehner said Democrats are still wedded to their health care legislation.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio: It’s going to be very difficult to have a bipartisan conversation with regard to a 2,700 health care — 2,700-page health care bill that the Democrat majority in the House and the Democrat majority in the Senate can’t pass. So, why are we going to talk about a bill that can’t pass? It really is time to scrap the bill and start over.

HARI SREENIVASAN: There might be more room for compromise on a jobs bill. The president said getting agreement on aiding small business could build momentum for larger steps. And the top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, said the two sides share an interest in expanding nuclear power and finishing trade deals.

The president also had a warning for Iran over its nuclear program. He said the U.S. is working on a significant regime of new sanctions in the U.N. Security Council. He gave no timetable for action. Iran announced today it has begun enriching uranium to a higher level. That could be another step toward developing nuclear weapons, a goal Iran denies having.

Wall Street rallied sharply today on hopes of an aid plan for Greece, which is heavily in debt. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 150 points, to close at 10058. The Nasdaq rose more than 24 points, to close near 2151.

A huge new snowstorm blew across the U.S. Midwest today, and took aim for the already snowbound Mid-Atlantic region. Roads from Minneapolis to Chicago to Indianapolis were slick, with up to a foot of new snow. Hundreds of flights were canceled in Chicago, and Washington braced for up to 20 new inches, on top of last weekend’s blizzard.

In Southern California, another rainstorm raised fears of new mudslides in the Los Angeles area. Officials ordered more than 540 homes to be evacuated by this morning.

In Afghanistan today, more than 60 people were feared dead after a series of avalanches. Cascades of snow and ice engulfed the Salang Pass, after days of heavy snow. It links Kabul with the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The incident buried more than two miles of highway, trapping hundreds of cars. Rescue crews recovered at least 24 bodies, and evacuated 430 of the injured.