Washington may have settled into a sleepy August break, but House Republicans on Wednesday continued their messaging efforts on the economy as President Barack Obama toured the Midwest to spread his own jobs message.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sent GOP Members a memo urging them to “commit to keeping focused on what is most important to the people and families that sent us here — jobs and economic growth.”
In order not to overshadow that message, the Virginia Republican urged Members not to push for further spending cuts and risk a government shutdown.
“While all of us would like to have seen a lower discretionary appropriations ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year, the debt limit agreement did set a level of spending that is a real cut from the current year level,” Cantor wrote in the memo. “I believe it is in our interest to enact into law full-year appropriations bills at this new lower level.”
Cantor also sought to line up support for the newly appointed super committee that will be charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts to avoid triggering automatic spending cuts in key programs. Some Members doubt that the 12-member panel, which is bicameral and bipartisan, will find a resolution or make any bold reforms in spending or entitlements. Cantor expressed his own support for the committee in his memo.
“I am confident that they will be successful and think it is critical that their efforts enjoy the full support of our Conference,” Cantor wrote, adding that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) “has made strong selections to represent us on the Joint Committee.” Boehner named Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (Mich.) and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (Mich.) to the committee last week.
Meanwhile, Boehner and Cantor called on Obama to work with House Republicans on fiscal issues to help boost the employment rate and shore up entitlement programs. In a USA Today opinion piece published Wednesday, the GOP leaders argued that Congress should pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and bolster the economy “without imposing job-crushing tax increases.” The debt ceiling and deficit reduction deal hatched last month that established the super committee also required that both chambers vote on a balanced budget amendment.
“Time and again, we have reached out to President Obama in the hope that he would finally be ready to do what is needed to solve our debt crisis and tackle America’s job crisis,” Boehner and Cantor wrote. “The offer still stands. Let’s get to work.”
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer responded on the White House blog Wednesday evening, “If we want to get this economy moving again, we must stop the kind of political brinksmanship that we saw in the House during the debt ceiling debate and get to work.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.