House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Thursday said the Republican House isn't waiting for him on jobs.
Cantor sought to use President Obama's "we can't wait" slogan against him, saying the Republican House wasn't waiting for the president or the Democratic Senate and is instead passing legislation to create jobs by easing federal regulations.
"The president has traveled the country telling Americans 'we can't wait' to pass some job bills. Well, we aren't waiting. We continue to pass job bills. Perhaps it's time for the president to deliver the 'we can't wait' message to the other body in the Capitol," Cantor said.
"It's time to get America working again, and call upon the Senate not only to act on this jobs bill, but the other 16 that currently sit idly in the Senate," Cantor added.
Cantor and Republicans are trying to call attention to more than a dozen bills the House has passed this year, many of which would ease Environmental Protection Agency regulations. House Republicans were planning a press event this morning about what they are calling the "Forgotten 15" bills to call for Senate passage.
Cantor said the two bills up today in the House would also help create jobs. One of them, H.R. 674, would end a delayed rule requiring all levels of government to withhold 3 percent of payments to contractors, which both parties agree would be costly to impose and would hinder these contractors.
"Supporting the repeal of the 3 percent withholding law is a demonstration that Washington can work together," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said. "With a strong bipartisan vote we can reduce the uncertainty facing America's job creators, and we can free up valuable resources businesses can use for hiring."
Democrats support this change, but seemed split on whether the change would create jobs. Ways and Means ranking member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said he supports the bill, but added, "Let's support this bill but not pretend that it will create jobs."
Another Republican, Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), said this bill would relieve governments from complying with the rule, and like Cantor took a shot at Obama and the Senate by saying the House is not waiting to create jobs.
"Mr. Speaker, not only can we not wait," he said. "We can't afford to wait. And here in the House, we haven't waited."
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) seemed to indicate that he believes it would create jobs, even as he noted that the rule was approved by Republicans a few years back.
"I opposed the enactment of the 3 percent withholding when a Republican Congress and a Republican administration enacted it, because I knew that it would hurt the economic engines of our economy," Pascrell said. "The repeal of this requirement will free up small business's cash flow, increasing their ability to add jobs and to bid on new projects."
The second bill, H.R. 2576, would modify the way eligibility is determined for health insurance exchange subsidies and participation in Medicaid and other programs, by requiring Social Security benefits are included as income when determining eligible income levels. The bill would make it more difficult for middle-income Americans to qualify for these programs, a change from last year's healthcare law that many Republicans and Democrats say is needed in order to ensure these programs are reserved for lower-income Americans.
"By aligning this definition with other federal subsidy programs, the legislation ensures that taxpayer funds will not be used to enroll middle-class individuals into Medicaid, which is an abuse of the program's mission to provide targeted assistance to those who are most in need of help," Camp said.
While many Democrats are expected to support this change — and Obama has indicated his approval — some Democrats argued on Thursday that the change would remove benefits that the healthcare law tried to give to middle-income Americans.
"This provision was not a glitch," said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.). "It was written into the law deliberately, and anyone who would have read the bill would have known that."
The House was expected to approve both bills in the early afternoon, sending them to the Senate.