House Speaker John Boehner told reporters today that he agrees with President Obama’s catchy new slogan ”We Can’t Wait,” and encouraged Senate Democrats to take action on 15 measures languishing in the upper chamber that he says would help get the unemployed back to work.
“The president says we can’t afford to wait,” the Ohio Republican said. “Well guess what? I agree with the president. We’ve got 15 bills that are sitting over in the United States Senate. After we finish this week, there’ll be 16 bills sitting over in the United States Senate waiting for action.
“It’s time for the Senate to work with the House, to work with the president, to help find common ground to move our economy forward and get the American people back to work.”
While “American families and small businesses continue to struggle in this economy,” Boehner added, House Republicans continue to seek common ground with the president “so that we can create a better environment for job creation in our country.”
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, the House’s No. 3 Republican, took a shot at the president for coining a new campaign slogan and also took aim at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada for resisting Republican pressure to vote on the so-called “Forgotten Fifteen” bills sitting in the Senate.
“We did hear the president that he could not wait. This country cannot wait for him to get off the campaign trail,” McCarthy, R-Calif., said. ”This country cannot wait till Harry Reid can actually bring one of these up for a vote.”
Majority Leader Eric Cantor echoed Boehner’s agreement with the president, telling reporters, “We can’t wait and we have said all along that we can’t wait to try to resolve the major differences that we have between the two sides on tax increases and the like, but we can put those differences aside and work together on the things that can help job creation in this economy.
“We’re bringing up this week a bill that is within the president’s plan,” Cantor, R-Va., said as he referenced a GOP measure to repeal the 3 percent withholding requirement. “It’s a bill to help governments and their contractors at all levels to do things in a more efficient way so that we ensure that prices don’t go up, and that’s what the 3 percent withholding bill actually does, and we’re hopeful that the president will join us because this is a provision in his bill and we have used a mechanism and a pay-for that he has embraced. There’s no reason why this bill shouldn’t pass. We agree with the president, we shouldn’t and we can’t wait.”
A vote on the 3 percent withholding requirement, which has yet to go into effect, failed in the Senate last week, although the pay-for mechanism was different than the bill on the House floor this week.
“It hangs out there like a wet blanket over small businesses who deal with local governments, state governments, the federal government,” Boehner said. “It was not thought out very well, and the fact is, it ought to be repealed and we ought to eliminate some of the uncertainty that’s already out there.”
Another House Republican, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, took issue with another recent statement from a top Democrat, when Reid announced on the Senate floor that “it’s very clear that private sector jobs are doing just fine. It’s the public sector jobs where we’ve lost huge numbers.”
McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said, “Now we think he got that reversed. If anything, it is the public sector that is doing just fine and we need to start focusing on the private sector. There’s way too many examples where the federal government, the public sector is actually making it harder on our private sector.”
Questioned whether the president has the authority to implement a mortgage refinancing plan without congressional approval, Boehner said Republicans “will be taking a look at it” and argued that Obama has failed multiple attempts to fix the housing crisis.
“We’re all concerned about the mortgage problems and the state of housing in America,” Boehner said. “If we’re really going to help housing, we need get our economy going again, get more people back to work, and create more demand for housing around our country.”
Asked why he does not pass a bill to address Chinese currency manipulation, which Democrats have passed through the Senate and contend would create tens of thousands – if not hundreds of thousands of jobs – Boehner reiterated that he believes “it’s a very dangerous policy” and he once again called on Obama to reveal his position on intervening legislatively.
“The president of the United States ought to stand up and take a position,” Boehner said. “The president of the United States gets elected to lead the entire country and the key point here is ‘to lead.’ Where’s the leadership?”