House Republican leader: GOP should keep word on taxes

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Monday sided with conservative activist Grover Norquist in a dispute over his anti-tax pledge, saying lawmakers should keep their word to their constituents if they promised to oppose tax increases.

Several House members told The Hill last week they no longer feel bound by Norquist’s tax pledge, saying they considered it binding for a single term rather than the duration of their time in office. The disavowals led to a sharp denunciation from the Americans for Tax Reform president, who says members must keep a promise they made to their constituents and that they were informed of the conditions of the pledge when they signed it.

Cantor, a signer of the pledge, weighed in on the debate during his weekly press briefing.

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“It’s not about Grover Norquist. It’s about commitments that people make to the electorate that they represent, to the people that sent them here,” the majority leader said. “That’s what this is about. Your word should be good to your constituents, and that’s what we’re dealing with here.”

Norquist has become a political lightening rod in the contentious debate over tax policy, with Democrats arguing that his influence over the GOP is blocking a balanced deficit-reduction deal.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) referred to Norquist as “some random person” earlier this month while arguing that the House GOP’s opposition to tax increases is based solely on policy beliefs.