From Sunlen Miller:
Speaking before a bipartisan group of House and Senate members, President Obama called for the unity felt in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden to be extended to the upcoming debates on Capitol Hill.
“I know that unity that we felt on 9/11 has frayed a little bit over the years, and I have no illusions about the difficulty of the debates that we’ll have to be engaged in in the weeks and months to come,” Obama said from the East Room of the White House. “But I also know there have been several moments like this during the course of this year that have brought us together as an American family.”
The president referred to the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., in January and the recent storms that swept the South as times when both parties came together.
“Last night was one of those moments,” he said. “And so tonight it is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face.”
The president had scheduled a dinner, with bipartisan House and Senate Leadership, Committee Chairs, Committee Ranking Members and their guests, Senior Administration Officials and members of the Cabinet, weeks ago because he thought it would be a good opportunity for leaders of both parties and their spouses to spend time together, outside of politics.
“Tonight seems like an especially fitting occasion to do this,” he said. “Obviously we’ve all had disagreements and differences in the past. I suspect we’ll all have them again in the future, but last night as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden …”
The president was then interrupted by extended applause and a standing ovation from the members of Congress in the room.
“You know, I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11,” he said when he resumed. “We were reminded again that there’s a pride in what this nation stands for and what we can achieve that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics.”
Obama thanked Congress for giving support to the military and the intelligence officials.
“Without your support they could not do what they do,” he said.
– Sunlen Miller