Boehner and Cantor call for ‘common ground’ on Obama jobs plan

C.J. Ciaramella Contributor
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In response to President Obama’s upcoming jobs speech, House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor called on the president in a letter Tuesday to work with House Republicans to find “common ground” on job creation.

The letter urged the president and the Senate to pick up several job-growth bills passed by the House and roll back what it called government barriers to businesses.

“While we each sincerely believe that our own policy prescriptions for economic recovery are what is best for the country, neither of us is likely to convince the other in a manner that results in the full implementation of those policies,” Boehner and Cantor wrote. “While it is important that we continue to debate and discuss our different approaches to job creation, it is also critical that our differences not preclude us from taking action in areas where there is common agreement. We should not approach this as an all or nothing situation.”

Boehner and Cantor signaled they would be open to expanding infrastructure funding, another source of contention between the Senate and House.

“We are not opposed to initiatives to repair and improve infrastructure, and believe there are reforms that can be implemented that would improve their effectiveness in a manner that supports economic growth,” Boehner and Cantor wrote.

The White House pressed last week for smooth passage of an extension to federal highway funding, and President Obama is likely to include infrastructure projects as part of his jobs plan. (RELATED: Obama packs up his travel schedule)

“We have to have a serious conversation about making real, lasting investments in infrastructure from better ports to a smarter electric grid to high speed rail,” Obama said. “At a time when interest rates are low and workers are unemployed, the best time to make those investments is now, not once another levee fails or another bridge falls. Right now is when we need to be making these decisions.”

The current federal highway spending bill expires Sept. 30. The Senate proposal on the table would last two years and cost $109 billion, but the House is working on a longer, six-year bill that includes some spending cuts.

Boehner and Cantor applauded President Obama’s recent decision to roll back EPA smog rebulations, but called on the White House to work with Republicans “to reduce excessive regulation that is hampering job growth in our country.”

“While we appreciate your announcement on Friday asking the EPA to withdraw its new draft ozone standards, we believe it is critical to not stop there, and instead act to further reduce this cumulative regulatory drag of uncertainty on economic growth and job creation,” the Republican leaders wrote.

The letter also suggested expanding free trade among other nations, an idea also touted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Free trade agreements are currently pending with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has estimated that approving those agreements could create 380,000 jobs.