ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor spoke with a handful of reporters as he was leaving the Capitol to head to the White House for the congressional leadership’s 6:00 p.m. meeting with President Obama Sunday night to report on the progress (or lack thereof) on bipartisan negotiations to increase the debt limit.
Cantor reacted to the House Speaker John Boehner’s announcement Saturday evening that the two sides are unlikely to come to an agreement on the so-called “grand bargain” that he, President Obama and the rest of the leaders have been striving to achieve.
“I’m just looking forward to making some progress here. I mean, this is serious stuff,” Cantor, R-Va., said. “We have got to be able to deliver on this promise, that we are going to get more cuts that what we raise in terms of the debt ceiling, and make sure that gets done with no tax increases.”
Saturday night Boehner seemed to indicate leaders would have to settle for a scaled-back package, stating that “the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure, based on the cuts identified in the Biden-led negotiations, that still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase.”
The “big” deal that leaders had been working on lately would have cut at least $4 trillion over 10 years. Republican aides say that the Biden talks “identified $2-2.5 trillion in cuts.”
Asked whether he and the speaker are on the same page regarding the state of negotiations, Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, pushed back on the implication that the two were out of sync and said the recent developments to settle for a smaller package of spending cuts are a result of the Democrats insistence to raise tax rates.
“We’re in exactly the same place. We are and we have been,” Cantor said of Boehner. “He’s never said he’s for tax increases, and the White House just proved that in order to do what it was that we want to do, to restructure the entitlement picture in terms of the fiscal soundness, they need tax-rate increases and we’re not for that, so the speaker is exactly where I am. We need 218 votes to pass this thing and I’m hopeful we can go to the White House right now and see if we can get there.”
Cantor added that “traditionally it’s always been the president and his party that have increased the debt limit” and said that Republicans have negotiated in good faith with Democrats.
“We have demonstrated a commitment to sit down with them. We have,” he said. “I have personally sat down with the vice president for the last six and a half, seven weeks and I think have a blueprint on the table upon which we can build and again deliver on the commitment that we’re going to cut more than that which we raise the debt ceiling and do so without raising taxes.”