WASHINGTON Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday said he was willing to make tweaks to the landmark healthcare reform law enacted earlier this year over united Republican opposition.
Reid, a veteran Democrat who survived a bitter contest in Tuesday's U.S. congressional elections, also said he was focused on extending middle-class tax cuts put in place under Republican former President George W. Bush, not extending tax cuts for the wealthy.
"If there's some tweaking we need to do with the healthcare bill, I'm ready for some tweaking," Reid said in an interview on CNN, after Republicans captured the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday's midterm elections.
"But I'm not going to in any way denigrate the great work we did as a country in saving Americans from bankruptcy because of the insurance industry bankrupting them," he added.
Republicans strengthened their ranks in the Senate, but Democrats kept a majority in that chamber.
Republicans were unified against the healthcare overhaul, which was one of President Barack Obama's top domestic policy initiatives, and House Republicans are calling for its repeal.
"I wish the Republicans had worked with us when we did the healthcare bill," Reid said.
Congress also faces tough decisions on the Bush-era tax cuts, which will expire on January 1 if Congress fails to take action.
"I'm focused on small business, I'm focused on middle class America. I'm going to do everything within my power to make sure that the tax cuts for the middle class go forward," Reid said on CNN.
"My concern is not with people who have a lot of money. If we need to work something out with the people who are really rich, we'll have to take a look at that, but right now the focus in America is not with the wealthy. It's getting jobs for people," Reid said.
Obama and his fellow Democrats tried before the election to pass legislation extending lower rates for taxpayers on family income of $250,000 or less and individual income of $200,000 or less. They were stymied when a small but vocal minority in their own party backed a rival proposal from Republicans to extend all the tax cuts -- notably those for families with income above $250,000.
(Reporting by Debbie Charles and Karey Wutkowski; Editing by Will Dunham and Vicki Allen)