President Biden cheered Democrats for their better-than-expected performance in the midterm elections and avoiding a "red wave," but with Republicans poised to claim a narrow majority in the House he said he stands ready to work across the aisle.
Speaking to reporters from the State Dining Room on Wednesday, Biden said he will invite congressional leaders from both parties to the White House after traveling to the Middle East and Asia later this week.
"I'm prepared to work with my Republican colleagues," he said. "The American people have made clear, I think, that my Republican colleagues be prepared to work with me as well."
The president also reiterated his intention to seek reelection, saying he will likely make the final decision early next year.
"Our intention is to run again ... regardless of what the outcome of this election was," Biden told reporters. He said he hoped to "sneak away for a week around" the holidays with the first lady, Jill Biden, and make an announcement after that.
Biden's remarks came on the heels of a Democratic midterms performance that has so far defied history. Since World War II, the party out of power has typically gained an average of 28 House seats and two Senate seats in a president's first midterms. Democrats appear on track to defy that precedent.
Though Democrats are expected to lose control of the House of Representatives, control of the Senate is still up in the air. Several key Senate races, including those in Nevada and Arizona, remain too close to call.
When asked whether the Democrats could keep the House, Biden said there was "a possibility," but acknowledged it would be close.
"Here's what we do know: While the press and the pundits predict[ed] a giant red wave, it didn't happen," he said.
Biden said he'll work with Republicans, but compromise may be challenging
The president said he is "ready to compromise with Republicans" on issues where it makes sense, but didn't provide any specifics. He said he doesn't have "much occasion" to talk with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — who on Wednesday announced his candidacy to be the next Speaker of the House — but that he plans to speak with him "later today."
Finding areas of compromise could prove difficult. If Republicans take the House, they are expected to launch investigations into domestic violent extremism; allegations against President Biden's son, Hunter Biden; and the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's home where agents seized classified documents, which have become the subject of an ongoing legal battle.
In response to a question about House Republicans' plans to conduct investigations into both his administration and his family, Biden said: "Lots of luck in your senior year, as my coach used to say."
"I think the American people want us to move on and do the things for them," Biden added.
The president signaled there are several areas where he would not compromise. "Under no circumstances," he said, would he support proposed cuts to Medicare and Social Security or any attempt to pass a federal abortion ban.
Biden added that he would "ban assault weapons or try like the devil," but he is unlikely to have enough congressional support to do that.
The economy will remain front and center
On the economy, Biden rejected the idea that the economy was close to a recession.
"We're not anywhere near a recession right now," he said. "I think we can have what most economists call a soft landing."
But, he added, "I can't guarantee that we're going to be able to get rid of inflation."
When asked what he would do differently after the midterms when an estimated three-quarters of Americans said the country was moving in the wrong direction, Biden replied: "Nothing."
He said Americans were only just beginning to learn and see the results of his policies so far.
Biden called the midterms a victory for democracy
The president began his remarks be celebrating the midterms as a "good day ... for democracy."
"Our democracy has been tested in recent years but with their votes, the American people have spoken and proven once again, that democracy is who we are," he said.
Biden said voters "spoke clearly about their concerns" about rising costs.
"There's still a lot of people hurting. They're very concerned — and it's about crime and public safety," he said. "And they sent a clear and unmistakable message that they want to preserve our democracy and protect the right to choose in this country."
Biden noted there was significant turnout among young people in the election, and said that he called Florida Democrat Maxwell Frost on Tuesday night to congratulate him on his historic win. Frost will be the first member of Generation Z elected to serve in Congress.
Biden said he was optimistic for what's to come in the next year of his administration, and spoke about Democrats' achievements thus far, including the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and the trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure legislation.