Eric Cantor presents plan for Congress, but predicts gridlock

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Officially launching his bid for House majority leader, Minority Whip Eric Cantor released a letter detailing a very hopeful plan for legislation and governmental reform, while simultaneously expressing a frustrated expectation that the reforms will not be able to pass through the partisan gridlock of the next Congress.

In the document, entitled “Delivering on Our Commitment,” and the preceding letter to fellow Republicans, Cantor proposed that the House should focus on creating jobs, reducing government spending, reforming the legislative process in the House, and putting a new focus on oversight.

Cantor also expressed confidence in the GOP’s ability to fulfill the things their candidates promised during midterm election campaigning.

“Let us be under no illusion,” he wrote in the letter prefacing the plan. “Many of those who cast their vote for Republicans have their share of doubts about whether we are up to the task of governing; about whether congressional Republicans have learned our lesson.”

“I harbor no such doubts,” Cantor concluded.

But he does harbor doubts that the Republican-controlled House will be able to get legislation past a Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama.

On the subject of repealing health care, Cantor predicted, “even if our repeal bill makes it through the Senate, we can expect that President Obama will veto it.”

He was equally cynical about the possibility of bipartisan cooperation on entitlement reform.

“President Obama, congressional Democrats, and their liberal allies,” Cantor wrote, “have made it abundantly clear that they will attack anyone who puts forward a plan that even tries to begin a conversation about the tough choices that are needed.”

“Unfortunately, I do not believe that President Obama will work with us to enact real entitlement reform unless it includes major tax increases,” he added. “And I cannot go along with such a deal.”

Cantor’s plan proposes that the House focus on creating jobs, though even on this plank he predicts a fight with the administration’s “war on job creation.” He also wants to use rescission bills to repeal funds that were previously approved but unspent, push entitlement reform, repeal the health care bill, and a continue the moratorium on earmarks in order to decrease government spending and rein in the deficit.

He also called for reform of the legislative process in the form of setting a higher bar for legislation that is brought to the floor and emphasizing the importance of committees in vetting legislation before it is brought to the floor.

“I believe we need to return to a committee-driven legislature,” Cantor writes, “that investigates problems, listens intently to the citizenry, and proposes well thought-out solutions when necessary.”

He proposed that Congress should have better time management, so that more time is spent in committee and the legislation that reaches the floor is fully prepared and also worthwhile. Cantor also suggested spending less time debating low-priority legislation. For instance, he proposed getting rid of “expressions of appreciation and recognition for individuals, groups, events, and institutions,” and limiting the discussion of “designations and namings of post offices and other federal buildings” to only one day each month.

In the final section of his plan, Cantor emphasizes the “need to prioritize oversight,” specifically, “Oversight that focuses on our key themes and how we solve problems – as opposed to scoring political points.”

In conclusion, Cantor emphasized that reform won’t happen overnight.

“This will not be a sprint of 100 days or 100 hours,” Cantor wrote. “This will be a methodical march.”