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BALTIMORE – House Republicans are invigorated to be back in the majority, but they don’t plan to let voters forget that Democrats are still running the show.
Republicans used their three-day retreat here to map out an aggressive spending and deficit reduction agenda, and began rolling out a new message offensive that involves blaming Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama for standing in their way.
The Member getaway began Thursday and wrapped up Saturday.
Although House Republicans will likely be able to force new spending limits and block other Democratic initiatives over the next two years, “we do not control this federal government. The other party does,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) said Friday.
Aides said Cantor’s message, which Republicans began floating during the retreat, is part of the new majority’s attempt to manage expectations for the next two years and build the case for a GOP takeover of the Senate and White House in 2012.
Republicans control the House 242-193; Democrats control the Senate 53-47.
“Gaining a majority in the House does not give us any real proactive capability” to make changes to Democratic policies, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) acknowledged.
It wasn’t just House Republicans who were making the argument that a Republican House does not equal a Republican agenda. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Friday that although he and other governors attending the retreat had urged Members to do what they can to shift power to the states, “we’re not running the government. We’re not going to be able to. But [House Republicans] can try and stop bad things.”
Republicans finished their retreat ready to get back to work after a one-week pause to honor the victims of the Arizona shooting. First up is a return to the health care repeal bill and a proposal to stop the Government Printing Office from having to print a certain number of copies of bills and resolutions, which is part of the party’s week-to-week offensive against what it charges is wasteful government spending.
“We are a renewed and energized Republican majority looking to do some great things this year,” Cantor told reporters.
“It is imperative that we continue the environment to have a productive debate on the issues of the day,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said. “That is important to us, to be able to stand on principle and present our issues.”