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Eric Cantor’s Jobs Bill Broadens Approach

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor today will introduce the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which includes some measures already passed by the House.

Top Democrats have been slamming House Republicans for months for not putting forward a comprehensive economic proposal, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is now proposing a jobs package that they could find difficult to oppose.

The reason? They've already voted for most of it.

The Virginia Republican is unveiling the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act today with AOL co-founder Steve Case.

The legislation includes bills that passed the House by wide majorities in November and other provisions reported out of the Financial Services Committee. For instance, the entire Democratic leadership team voted for H.R. 2940, H.R. 2930 and H.R. 1070, all of which are included in the bill.

The approach follows Cantor's view that while the parties are deadlocked on issues such as taxes, there are still areas of agreement where progress can be made.

But Cantor's measure is irking some colleagues because it puts a Republican's name on what was a Democrat's bill.

Cantor's bill includes legislation introduced last week by Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), but that bill bears a remarkable similarity to legislation by Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) that the House passed 420-2 in November.

Both bills contain identical provisions to increase the number of shareholders that a community bank can have before being required to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission the core of the bill. But Quayle's bill does not require a study of the subject.

Democrats privately mocked Cantor for "stealing" a bill introduced by Democrats and already passed by the House and noted the JOBS Act includes two provisions introduced by Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.). Quayle and Schweikert are facing off against each other in a primary fight.

Himes laughed it off. "I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," he said.

Cantor spokeswoman Laena Fallon said the Quayle bill was chosen for its bipartisan Senate support. A nearly identical bill in the Senate that also does not require a study was introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). That bill has 13 co-sponsors, including three Democrats.

"That sounds like a nice excuse to paper over some Republican internal politics," Himes said. "Presumably the bill would be subject to conference, and at the end of the day, nobody is going to get terribly hung up over a study."

Still, he said that even if his name isn't on the provision, he's happy to see it included. And while remaining suspicious of whether Cantor included any poison pills hidden in the bill text, Himes said, "I'm hopeful it's something we can call get behind."

Despite the authorship battle, Democrats concede that House votes demonstrate broad support for the legislation and that Cantor's press conference with Case is a publicity coup.

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