GOP leaders tell Obama: We haven't given up working with you

CAMBRIDGE, Md. – House Republican leaders on Thursday responded to President Obama’s State of the Union call for 2014 to be “a year of action” with a letter pitching four House-passed bills as a starting point for bipartisan cooperation.

“Naturally, we don’t agree with all of the proposals you outlined in your speech, but where there is the potential for agreement we believe it is critical we come together to advance the interests of the American people,” the top four leaders – Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.), Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers – wrote in the four-page letter, which was released at the start of the House GOP’s annual retreat on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

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Quoting at length from Obama’s address to Congress, the Republicans cited legislation the House has passed reforming federal job training programs, scrapping regulations on producers of natural gas, changing workplace compensation rules and redirecting federal money toward pediatric research. The Senate has not acted on any of the proposals, and the GOP leaders urged Obama to pressure Democratic leaders to take them up.

More broadly, the letter represented an effort by the Republican leadership to publicly extend a hand to a president who has vowed to go around Congress wherever possible to carry out his agenda. Boehner has warned Obama that the House will closely watch his moves to assure they are Constitutional, and he sharply criticized the president’s State of the Union address as ideological and divisive.

Still, the tone of the leadership’s letter on Thursday was less confrontational and amounted to both a plea and a warning for Obama not to “give up” on working with Congress.

“Mr. President, as you reminded us all on Tuesday night, come times things don’t come easy, but we should never give up and quit,” the Republicans wrote. “We haven’t given up on working with you to find areas of common agreement where we can do good things for the American people.

“There is no reason that we cannot accomplish our objectives in these areas of common agreement, and we are confident that success in these areas will open up even more avenues for success,” they wrote.