Cantor skips Obama signing ceremony for Export-Import Bank

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) skipped President Obama’s signing ceremony Wednesday for legislation reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank.

A Cantor spokeswoman said the majority leader could not make the event work with his schedule.

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Cantor and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) negotiated the agreement in a rare bipartisan accord in the House. Cantor faced down objections from some Republicans who view export subsidies provided by the bank as a form of corporate welfare.

Obama was joined on stage by Hoyer and Rep. Gary Miller (Calif.), the only Republican at the event. Obama credited both with helping to “make this day possible.”

“Their leadership, their hard work made this bill a reality,” Obama said.


In April, Cantor did attend a signing ceremony at the White House for jobs legislation he sponsored.

Obama on Wednesday hailed the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank as “a model” for the work his administration can do with the help of a willing Congress.

Obama congratulated Congress for working with him to pass the bill, the main tool for the U.S. government to tout export sales. The bank’s charter had been set to expire this month.

“Part of building that broad-based economy with a strong middle class is making sure that we're not just known as a nation that consumes,” Obama said. “We've got to be a nation that produces, a nation that sells. Our middle class was created by workers who made and sold the best products in the world.”

Other members of Congress in the audience included Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters (Calif.), Jim McDermott (Wash.), Rick Larsen (Wash.) and Norm Dicks (Wash.).

During brief remarks before a crowd of corporate CEOs, including Charles Szews of Oshkosh Corporation, and small business leaders, Obama referenced the economic crisis in Europe, saying that the Export-Import bill and others could help stimulate growth.

“Obviously the world economy is still in a delicate place because of what's going on in Europe and the fact that some of the emerging countries have been slowing down,” Obama said. “It is absolutely critical for us to make sure that we are full speed ahead.

Just like his campaign remarks of late, Obama hammered home populist themes, saying his administration was fighting hard for the middle class.

“We've talked a lot recently about the fundamental choice that we face as a country,” he said. “America can either settle for an economy where just a few are doing well and a lot of folks are struggling to get by or we can build the kind of economy where everybody's getting a fair shot and everybody's doing their fair share.”

Russell Berman contributed to this story.

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