(CNN) – In the first full week after the election, Washington's focus quickly shifted to the deadline Congress and President Barack Obama face to reach a budget deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Each side highlighted the necessity for bipartisan cooperation to dodge another financial crisis.
In the Republican weekly address, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said the American people expect Congress to work together to avoid the economic impacts, adding the threat of the looming federal spending cuts and tax increases bring an opportunity for lawmakers to "change our country's irresponsible spending path."
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"One thing is clear: Doing nothing is not an option," said Ayotte, a former surrogate for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. "And any effort to address our fiscal crisis without including entitlement reform can't be taken seriously."
Politicians differ in their approach to the budget negotiations to stop a number of automatic federal spending cuts and tax increases set to take place at the beginning of 2013 if a deal is not reached.
Democrats generally advocate allowing Bush-era tax cuts on wealthy Americans to expire at the end of the year while Republicans push for limiting deductions and closing loopholes in tax code in order to raise revenue.
Ayotte's address come after President Barack Obama met with congressional leaders in the White House Friday about the “fiscal cliff” - the first such meeting since the election. While no deal was met, Obama called the meeting "constructive."
"Everyone agreed that while we may have our differences, we need to come together, find solutions and take action as soon as possible," the president said in his weekly address. "Both parties voted to set this deadline. And I believe both parties can work together to make these decisions in a balanced and responsible way."
After the meeting, leaders of the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate stood side by side outside the White House and suggested an agreement could be reached before the end of the year deadline.
House Speaker John Boehner said that Republicans recognize that neither side is going to get everything it wants and a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts is needed to reach a deal.
"This isn't something we're going to wait until the last day of December to get it done. We have a plan. We're going to move forward on it," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.
–CNN senior congressional producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.