House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor urged the president to find common ground with Republicans, asking that he convene a meeting with the top congressional leadership before his address to a joint session of Congress Thursday “so that we may have the opportunity to constructively discuss your proposals.”
“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,” the duo wrote in a letter to the president today. “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.”
In the letter, Boehner of Ohio and Cantor of Virginia highlighted a number of potential areas for bipartisan agreement, such as the elimination of a law that requires states to set-aside 10 percent of their surface transportation funds for transportation enhancements, which must be used for the establishment of transportation museums, education activities for pedestrians and bicyclists, acquisition of scenic easements, historic preservation and operation of historic transportation facilities, among other things.
“While many of the initiatives funded by this mandatory set-aside may be worthy projects, eliminating this required set-aside would allow states to devote more money to the types of infrastructure programs you are advocating without adding to the deficit,” Boehner and Cantor noted. “We believe such a reform would be consistent with your statement last week that we should ‘reform the way transportation money is invested, to eliminate waste, to give states more control over the projects that are right for them.’”
Boehner and Cantor also say they are “hopeful” that they can work with the White House to pass three pending free-trade agreements, speed up the permitting process for construction projects and overhaul the unemployment system to aid workers at risk of being unemployed for an extended period of time.
The leaders also urged Obama to support a batch of legislation that has already passed the House and that GOP leaders predict would lead to job creation that has stalled in the Democratic-led Senate.
“Our new majority has passed more than a dozen pro-growth measures to address the jobs crisis. Aside from repeal of the 1099 reporting requirement in the health care law, however, none of the jobs measures passed by the House to date have been taken up by the Democrat-controlled Senate,” Boehner and Cantor wrote. “Our hope is that both parties can work together in the coming weeks to reduce excessive regulation that is hampering job growth in our country.”
The White House does not know yet whether Obama will brief Congressional leaders before the jobs speech.
The president has not yet finished working on his speech, and he is not rehearsing it, but he did get considerable work accomplished over Labor Day weekend, according to a White House official.