(CNN) - With significant Republican gains in the U.S. House and Senate and a new session of Congress around the corner, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the Republican Party now has more responsibility to govern.
"There was a responsibility of government that I think the Republicans got in the November elections and they began to understand that responsibility a little bit more in this lame duck session than they had in the previous, quite frankly, 18 months or so," Gibbs said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
He said the party can no longer afford to "simply sit and say no," and instead needs to continue the trend from the lame duck session of being part of a constructive conversation. Gibbs said part of that trend should be making 2011 a year to put politics aside because there will be plenty of time to campaign for the 2012 elections.
However, when Congress returns in January members will likely face a legislative agenda that includes typically partisan issues. Gibbs said the president wants to strengthen entitlement programs for future generations and address the long-term deficit and education.
"We are certainly hopeful that the Republicans come into next year with a willingness to sit down at that table and begin having a discussion about how we're going to make progress," Gibbs told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. "Sometimes the first step is the biggest one."
Gibbs also said he doesn't expect major changes in President Obama's Cabinet and would be surprised if the president decided not to run for reelection.
"We're making progress and I know he wants to continue making that progress and finish those jobs," Gibbs said.
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