Washington — In his first press conference in his (nearly official) capacity as majority leader, Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.) outlined his vision for the new Republican-led House. “I think you could sum up what our new majority is going to be about by saying it is a ‘cut and grow’ majority,” he said.
Cantor said Republicans efforts over the past two years — dutifully opposing the Democratic agenda and crafting counterproposals of their own — came to fruition in the midterm elections. “Clearly the people of this country spoke out,” he said. “They looked at this agenda that was being promoted by the White House and the [Democratic] majority as far outside the mainstream.” It was a “repudiation of what had gone on in this town,” he said, but “wasn’t necessarily an election about [Republicans].”
With that in mind, Cantor laid out a three-part rule he by which he would seek to abide in the new Congress, which would entail asking every day if the Republican majority’s actions are focused on 1) job creation and economic growth, 2) cutting spending, and 3) shrinking government while protecting and expanding liberty. And if not, to ask, “Why are we doing it?”
The new “results-driven” majority would act quickly to advance its “cut-and-grow playbook” in the next few weeks leading up to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 25, focusing primarily on reducing government spending — bringing new measures to the floor each week — and doing away with excessive government regulations. “To this day we continue to see the drum beat towards more and more reach by this government and it is impeding job growth and impeding the access to capital for small business,” he said.
Republicans would be closely watching President Obama’s address for areas of possible compromise — on cutting spending, doing away with earmarks, and reforming the tax code. “I expect [him] to put some action behind [his] words,” Cantor said, but added that he was “hopeful” that Republicans and the White House could find some common ground in these key areas.
After the State of the Union, House Republicans would follow Rep. Paul Ryan’s lead in crafting a budget that not only brings spending down to reasonable levels but “encapsulates our vision of how we intend to take this country forward.”
On Republican plans to hold a vote next week to repeal Obamacare, Cantor dismissed accusations that their efforts were a waste of time — since, even if a repeal bill were to somehow pass the Senate (which it won’t), President Obama would swiftly veto the legislation. “The Senate will have to consider its position once the House passes the repeal bill and senators hear from their constituents,” Cantor said.
He also indicated that Republicans would not allow Democrats to add amendments to the proposed two-page bill by an open rule process, and defended that position. “It’s a straightforward document,” Cantor said. “It reflects what most people inside the Beltway and outside the Beltway want.”