President Obama and Cantor are all smiles as JOBS Act is signed into law

President Obama and Cantor are all smiles as JOBS Act is signed into law

After clashing repeatedly last year, House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorFeehery: The governing party 'Release the memo' — let's stop pretending that Democrats are the defenders of the FBI Raúl Labrador, a model for Hispanic politicians reaching higher MORE (R-Va.) and President Obama made nice on Thursday as Obama signed Cantor’s JOBS Act into law.

The relationship between Cantor and Obama has been rocky, and reached a low point during last summer’s debt-ceiling negotiations, when Obama reportedly warned Cantor to not “call my bluff.”

But the strain has eased this year, and the two men were all smiles in the Rose Garden as the president affixed his signature to legislation that had been a top priority of Cantor’s.

Obama praised the measure as “exactly the kind of bipartisan action we should be taking in Washington to help our economy” and signed the bill with 11 ceremonial pens, one for each letter of his name.

Cantor stood directly behind Obama for the signing, and said in a statement he hoped it was a sign of things to come. 

“We have a very difficult economic situation still,” Cantor said. “The president said today that he has always believed that it is the private sector that is the job generator in this country. I agree with him. I think most Americans agree with him."

The president was joined on stage by Cantor and four other Republicans: Reps. Spencer BachusSpencer Thomas BachusBipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism Manufacturers press Senate to approve Ex-Im board members MORE (Ala.), Patrick McHenry (N.C.) and Scott GarrettErnest (Scott) Scott GarrettBipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Manufacturers press Senate to approve Ex-Im board members Let's hope Republicans use the new year to get moving on Trump's nominees MORE (N.J.), along with Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.). Democratic Reps. John Larson (Conn.), John Carney (Del.) and Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellDem: Trump blocking memo shows he's 'not interested in transparency' Recy Taylor's granddaughter to attend State of the Union as Dem's guest After rough year, Facebook does damage control in DC MORE (Ala.) were also on hand, as was D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. 

Twice during the signing Obama made quiet comments that drew laughter from the lawmakers on stage, including Cantor. 

The president ruffled some feathers by backing Cantor’s bill, putting himself at odds with consumer activists, union leaders and some members of his own party.

The measure is aimed at making it easier for small businesses to access credit or go public, but some Democrats — including Illinois Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinAmerica’s waning commitment to the promise of the First Amendment Senate rejects Trump immigration plan What to watch for in the Senate immigration votes MORE, the Democratic whip — argued it goes too far in deregulating Wall Street.

Despite the concerns of some Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake MORE (D-Nev.) followed Obama’s cue and fast-tracked the legislation through the Senate after it passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 380 to 41.

Last week, Cantor told The Hill he hopes the president and congressional leaders will work together more frequently over the next several months. 

“I hope it’s that all of us are looking toward driving toward results and looking toward solutions. We all know there are plenty of differences between the two sides in Washington,” he said.

But bipartisan legislation is unlikely during a high-stakes election year where even ceremonial bill-signings, like Thursday’s, have become a source of political friction.

Republicans have grumbled over the decreased frequency of the bill-signing events, arguing the president is avoiding them to avoid calling attention to Congress’s achievements while running against an obstructionist, “do-nothing” Legislative Branch.
Republicans argue that a number of recent bipartisan achievements, such as the reauthorization of funding for the Federal Aviation Administration and the passage of three trade deals last fall, were worthy of the honor. 

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRestoring fiscal sanity requires bipartisan courage GOP congressman slams primary rival for Ryan donations Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future MORE (R-Ohio) has not attended a bill signing at the White House since taking the gavel from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last year. 

The White House has said that there is no concerted effort to bury bipartisan accomplishments, and said the signing events are dictated by the president’s schedule.

On Wednesday, again flanked by members of both parties, the president signed into law the STOCK Act, making Thursday’s event the second one this week, although it’s only the third of 2012. 

In February, the president signed former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) final piece of legislation, passed before she resigned to concentrate on rehabilitation from wounds suffered in a Tucson shooting spree last year. 

Asked about the infrequency of signing ceremonies on Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said “there are a lot of moving pieces” in terms of schedules, and that the administration couldn’t assume Republicans in Congress wanted to participate in such events. 

Plus, Carney said, Republicans had never before seemed “eager to appear next to the president.”