Cantor Outlines Ambitious Agenda for Remaining Months of 2013 Session

Eric Cantor
National Journal
Billy House
Add to Briefcase
Billy House
Sept. 8, 2013, 8 a.m.

House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor, R-Va., is telling rank-and-file Re­pub­lic­ans to brace for a ro­bust list of is­sues that need to be ad­dressed this fall, in­clud­ing mil­it­ary ac­tion in Syr­ia, fed­er­al spend­ing, health care, na­tion­al-in­tel­li­gence pro­grams, and cy­ber­se­cur­ity.

In a memo sent out Fri­day, Can­tor urges col­leagues to re­main fo­cused “on our con­ser­vat­ive policies that can help grow the eco­nomy, lessen the bur­den of gov­ern­ment, and provide op­por­tun­ity for work­ing middle-class fam­il­ies.”

The memo gives an out­line of what Can­tor says the House will con­tend with as mem­bers re­turn from the sum­mer re­cess Monday.

On Syr­ia, Can­tor, who has said he sup­ports Pres­id­ent Obama’s call for mil­it­ary ac­tion there, ac­know­ledges that there are dif­fer­ing opin­ions on both sides of the aisle. “It is up to Pres­id­ent Obama to make the case to Con­gress and to the Amer­ic­an people that this is the right course of ac­tion,” he writes. “Mem­bers should ex­pect a ro­bust de­bate and vote on an au­thor­iz­a­tion of use of mil­it­ary force per­tain­ing to Syr­ia in the next two weeks.”

On fed­er­al spend­ing, Can­tor notes that a cur­rent gov­ern­ment spend­ing bill ex­pires at the end of Septem­ber. He does not ex­pli­citly men­tion it, but Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers are already pre­par­ing to bring to the House floor — pos­sibly as early as Thursday — a short-term con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion to keep gov­ern­ment run­ning bey­ond Sept. 30.

House GOP sources say that the meas­ure would fund op­er­a­tions at post-se­quester an­nu­al levels of $988 bil­lion, which would be a com­prom­ise with the Sen­ate. Wheth­er spend­ing would be ex­ten­ded for one, two, or three months was still be­ing worked out. A vote could be delayed un­til the fol­low­ing week be­cause of the fo­cus on Syr­ia.

On the fed­er­al debt lim­it, Can­tor notes that the ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced it ex­pects to run out of bor­row­ing au­thor­ity by mid-Oc­to­ber. “While we do not know the pre­cise date of when that au­thor­ity will lapse, the House will act to pre­vent a de­fault on our ob­lig­a­tions be­fore that point,” he states.

But while Obama and Sen­ate Demo­crats have said they will not bar­gain on the need to be able to pay the na­tion’s debts, Can­tor writes in his memo that “House Re­pub­lic­ans will de­mand fisc­al re­forms and pro-growth policies which put us on a path to bal­ance in 10 years in ex­change for an­oth­er in­crease in the debt lim­it.”

Can­tor also writes about ac­tion on the House’s un­fin­ished por­tion of the farm bill. So far the House has passed a bill deal­ing with ag­ri­cul­ture pro­grams without act­ing on food stamps and oth­er nu­tri­tion­al pro­grams that ac­count for about 80 per­cent of the bill’s nearly $1 tril­lion in fund­ing au­thor­iz­a­tion. However, Can­tor writes that a work­ing group with­in the GOP con­fer­ence has come to­geth­er on a new ver­sion of that por­tion that could save an es­tim­ated $40 bil­lion over 10 years. That would al­most double the sav­ings tied to re­forms ini­tially pro­posed by the House Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee.

Can­tor’s in­dic­a­tion is that the House will soon take ac­tion on the un­fin­ished part and then pro­ceed to con­fer­ence with the Sen­ate, which passed its ver­sion of the farm bill in June. Can­tor said that the bill will en­sure that work re­quire­ments for able-bod­ied adults without chil­dren are en­forced — not waived — and elim­in­ate loop­holes ex­ploited over the last few years to avoid the pro­gram’s in­come and as­set tests.

As Speak­er John Boehner, R-Ohio, has pre­vi­ously in­dic­ated, Can­tor also states in his memo that the House will hold a series of votes throughout the fall to dis­mantle, de­fund, and delay im­ple­ment­a­tion of the Af­ford­able Care Act. “The co­ali­tion sup­port­ing Obama­care cracks when forced to vote on the most un­pop­u­lar as­pects of the law,” Can­tor writes.

On im­mig­ra­tion re­form, Can­tor says that the cur­rent im­mig­ra­tion sys­tem “should be fixed in a de­lib­er­ate and re­spons­ible man­ner. “That is why the Ju­di­ciary and Home­land Se­cur­ity com­mit­tees have pro­duced a num­ber of spe­cif­ic bills which the House may be­gin con­sid­er­ing this fall,” he writes.

But he adds, “Be­fore we con­sider any oth­er re­forms, it is im­port­ant that we pass le­gis­la­tion se­cur­ing our bor­ders and provid­ing en­force­ment mech­an­isms to our law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials.”

Can­tor says the House will take up bills to ex­pand en­ergy pro­duc­tion, de­scrib­ing their ap­proaches as en­vir­on­ment­ally friendly and de­signed to lower the price of en­ergy for all Amer­ic­ans. This bi­par­tis­an le­gis­la­tion, he says, would in­clude pro­hib­it­ing the In­teri­or De­part­ment from en­for­cing fed­er­al hy­draul­ic-frac­tur­ing reg­u­la­tions in any state that already has ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tions and re­cog­nizes states’ rights to reg­u­late this type of activ­ity.

Can­tor also notes the House will take up a bill de­signed to im­prove forest health and ad­dress cata­stroph­ic wild­fires, while also provid­ing a short-term ex­ten­sion of the Se­cure Rur­al Schools pay­ments pro­gram, but some Demo­crats and en­vir­on­ment­al groups have raised con­cerns about as­pects of that bill. He also notes that on tap for ac­tion this fall is the Wa­ter Re­source Re­form and De­vel­op­ment Act of 2013, and that it con­tains no ear­marks.

Can­tor also says that House com­mit­tees will con­tin­ue to pur­sue in­quir­ies in­to al­leged gov­ern­ment ab­uses, such as charges of polit­ic­al tar­get­ing by the In­tern­al Rev­en­ue Ser­vice.

No­tice­ably ab­sent from dis­cus­sion is tax re­form. House GOP lead­ers earli­er this year had said they re­served the sym­bol­ic H.R. 1 des­ig­na­tion for the le­gis­la­tion as a top pri­or­ity. But Can­tor does say, “We will need to ad­dress ad­di­tion­al is­sues this fall, in­clud­ing a re­view of our in­tel­li­gence pro­grams and cy­ber­se­cur­ity,” and that “a vari­ety of oth­er items are likely to be con­sidered.”

What We're Following See More »
Is McMullin Building the GOP in Exile?
52 minutes ago

Evan McMullin, the independent conservative candidate who may win his home state of Utah, is quietly planning to turn his candidacy into a broader movement for principled conservatism. He tells BuzzFeed he's "skeptical" that the Republican party can reform itself "within a generation" and that the party's internal "disease" can't be cured via "the existing infrastructure.” The ex-CIA employee and Capitol Hill staffer says, “I have seen and worked with a lot of very courageous people in my time [but] I have seen a remarkable display of cowardice over the last couple of months in our leaders.” McMullin's team has assembled organizations in the 11 states where he's on the ballot, and adviser Rick Wilson says "there’s actually a very vibrant market for our message in the urban northeast and in parts of the south."

Clinton Up 9 in USA Today Poll; Up 3 According to Fox
1 hours ago

A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds Clinton leads Trump by 9 points nationwide, 47% to 38%. A Fox News national poll has Clinton up just three points, 44% to 41% over Trump.

Too Many Potential Enrollees Paying Obamacare Penalties Instead
2 hours ago

One of the main reasons for the recent Obamacare premium hikes is that many potential enrollees have simply decided to pay the tax penalty for remaining uninsured, rather than pay for insurance. More than 8 million people paid the penalty in 2014, and preliminary numbers for 2015 suggest that the number approaches 6 million. "For the young and healthy who are badly needed to make the exchanges work, it is sometimes cheaper to pay the Internal Revenue Service than an insurance company charging large premiums, with huge deductibles."

Cruz: Eight Justices Could Be an Ongoing Situation
3 hours ago

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that "there was “precedent” for a Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices—appearing to suggest that the blockade on nominee Merrick Garland could last past the election." Speaking to reporters in Colorado, Cruz said: "I would note, just recently, that Justice Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”

Chaffetz Also Caves, Says He’ll Vote Trump
5 hours ago

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.