GOP Leaders to Obama: Sign Our Bills

CAMBRIDGE, Md. - In a letter to President Barack Obama, House Republican leaders asked him to push four House-passed proposals they say fit the priorities he set out in his State of the Union address, but which are largely panned by Democratic groups and have in some cases drawn veto threats. Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, along with his top leadership team, cited Obama's "year of action" theme to revive four controversial bills on job skills, drilling and pediatric research the House has already passed and they say should move in the Senate. "Naturally, we don't agree with all of the proposals you outlined in your speech, but where there is potential for agreement we believe it is critical that we come together to advance the interests of the American people," they wrote. The bills include two that would reform training and workplace policy, including the SKILLS Act, which Republican leaders would consolidate federal workplace training programs. Unions have said the bill would lead to more spending cuts to the programs. Leaders also asked that Obama revisit a veto threat against a House-passed bill that would allow private companies to offer time off in lieu of pay-and-a-half for overtime work, a proposal with which unions also disagree. Citing Obama's call to enact natural gas legislation, leaders touted another administration-opposed bill, which would force the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve permits to drill on federal land within 12 months. Finally, the letter asked Obama to push a bill that has been a priority for Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, which would end public funding of political conventions and place that money in a fund that can be appropriated for pediatric medical research. Many Democrats support the bill and it has companion legislation that will be cosponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. However some Democratic leaders have criticized it for being a "fig leaf" for larger cuts to medical research enacted through the appropriations process.