Rep. Sam Farr said Wednesday he hoped Republicans and Democrats could work together in the wake of a general election that kept the federal government politically divided.
Farr, D-Carmel, said he will use his 11th term in Congress to push for passage of the five-year-old farm bill and complete projects in Marina and Salinas — but said he is most focused on the coming weeks.
"We have five trains heading for the same spot," he said of spending cuts and tax changes scheduled for Jan. 1. "When they collide, it is going to be a huge train wreck."
He said the five "trains" are more than $1 trillion in across-the-board cuts over 10 years agreed to under last year's debt-ceiling deal, cuts to Medicare, changes to tax rates, another debt-ceiling agreement and passage of the farm bill.
Farr, who beat Republican Jeff Taylor by 46 percent Tuesday, said he will have to wait and see if the gridlock that characterized Congress this past year would continue in the coming months and into the next session.
"The pressure is on them to make some changes," he said of Republicans.
Farr acknowledged Democrats need to "get along better with our Republican colleagues," but said Tuesday's election sent a clear message.
"We're hoping the right wing that's been able to just beat up on Obama every single day we've been back there," he said, "will realize they've been thoroughly trounced."
Efforts to reach the Monterey County Republican Party were unsuccessful.
He said Farr's seniority may help him, but he did not find Wednesday statements from Republican House Speaker John Boehner or Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid encouraging.
Although Boehner and Reid pledged bipartisanship, Madonna found two statements indicative of a gridlocked Congress. Boehner said House Republicans would not approve tax hikes and Reid said voters want higher taxes on the wealthy.
Madonna said the first six months of the new Congress will be "a test to see if our government still functions."
Yet historian David Anderson, a professor in the Global Studies Department at CSU Monterey Bay, said that historically, "the ball is in the court" of the party that has a two-term president.
He said Obama's victory gave House Democrats such as Farr the opportunity to "get their house in order" by "leveraging power" from having their candidate elected a second time.
Farr said some of his goals in the House were seeing a Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense joint clinic built in Marina, construction of a new agriculture research station in Salinas and to continue work on the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Trail, child nutrition and immigration reform issues.
Phillip Molnar can be reached at 646-4487 or firstname.lastname@example.org.