By Molly K. Hooper - 07/15/11 05:17 PM EDT
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told The Hill on Friday that he did not speak during Thursday’s 80-minute meeting at the White House because he wanted to let the president’s team present its plan.
“Yesterday’s meeting was the president’s team presenting their proposal,” Cantor said. “The other two meetings [involved] our view of the Biden proposal and the Biden talks, so I was very much in listen-and-receive mode. The Speaker is the one who responded to the president’s proposals — countering what it was that we had proposed. That was the difference [between] the meetings.”
Congressional negotiators have met with the president at the White House for five consecutive days this week. Officials speaking “on background” recounted that Cantor had taken a lead role in the discussions on raising the debt limit.
The majority leader told The Hill that much of his participation was in relation to the six weeks of work he did as a member of the debt-reduction team, led by Vice President Biden. Cantor walked away from those discussions when it was apparent that the bipartisan group had hit an impasse in their progress.
With little more than three weeks until the Treasury Department says the U.S. will be forced to default on its financial obligations — unless the current debt ceiling is lifted — both parties have resorted to rhetorical heat and pointed fingers.
And Wednesday's “tense” fifth meeting at the White House provided fodder for both sides to use as partisan ammo in the battle of wills.
Republicans criticized Obama for storming out, while Democrats ripped Cantor for being intransigent.
There was no meeting scheduled for Friday.