WASHINGTON -- In another sign that the country is in for a tough two years of battles between the White House and Congress, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared Thursday that he was "very disturbed" by President Barack Obama's recent attempts to exercise his executive powers.
Those include moving ahead on dealing with undocumented immigrants, cutting a deal with China on climate change and suggesting that the Internet should be regulated like a utility under so-called net neutrality rules.
"I've been very disturbed about the way the president has proceeded in the wake of the election," McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill soon after his caucus voted to keep him as its leader when Republicans take control of the Senate in January.
With Congress gridlocked on many of the president's agenda items, including immigration, Obama announced in January that he had a "pen and a phone" that he would use to move forward on his own, including signing executive orders. Among other things, he raised the wages of government contractors, strengthened protections for gay and transgender workers, and expanded the military actions in Iraq. And he had already angered Republicans by stalling deportations of children and delaying parts of Obamacare.
McConnell argued that the recent elections that expanded the House GOP majority and gave Republicans control of the Seante should have chastened Obama.
"I had maybe naively hoped the president wold look at the results of the election and decide to come to the political center and do some business with us," McConnell said. "I still hope he does at some point, but the early signs are not good."
He added that Obama should look to some of his predecessors, including Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, for examples of dealing with a Congress ruled by the opposing party.
"They understood that the American people had elected divided government," McConnell said. "We'd like for the president to recognize the reality that he has the government that he has, not the one that he wishes he had, and work with us."
Asked what the GOP would do if Obama insists on pursuing his own agenda, McConnell declined to tip his hand.
"We'll let you know," McConnell told reporters. He had earlier vowed not to shut down the government.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who was also re-elected to his leadership role for the next Congress on Thursday, echoed McConnell in suggesting the next two years will be a slog.
"Finding common ground is not going to be easy," Boehner said.
Boehner especially laid down a tough line on opposing Obama on immigration when reporters asked about it.
"We're going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path," he said. "This is the wrong way to govern. This is exactly what the American people said on Election Day they didn't want."
Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.