By Molly K. Hooper - 10/03/13 03:16 PM EDT
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Thursday said it was "unbelievable" that President Obama invited congressional leaders to the White House only to tell them he wouldn’t negotiate to end the government shutdown.
The Virginia Republican said he did not speak directly with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) following the meeting, which lasted more than an hour. But based on the briefing Cantor received, it did not move either side closer to a deal.
“I find it unbelievable that the president would call Speaker Boehner and others over to the White House just to let them know he wouldn't negotiate. You think about that. There's something very counter-intuitive about that move,” Cantor told a handful of reporters Thursday morning.
The No. 2-ranking House Republican had just finished speaking at a news conference in the basement of the Capitol where he called out Senate Democrats for refusing to consider a bill that would fund the National Institutes of Health – in particular the pediatric research program on the NIH campus.
House GOP leaders have refused to let their chamber hold a clean up or down vote on the Senate-passed funding bill that Democrats and a growing number of moderate Republicans would support to end the shutdown.
House Republicans have sent a temporary funding bill to the Senate at least three times -- each one attached to a provision that would alter ObamaCare.
Asked why the GOP leaders would not hold a vote on a clean continuing resolution (CR) to end the current government shutdown, Cantor questioned the “assumption” that the measure would pass.
At least two dozen GOP lawmakers have called for or indicated that they would support such a move.
Cantor posited that some House Democrats would oppose the so-called “clean” funding bill because it continues the funding levels set forth in the sequester.
“This assumption that everyone's operating on, that somehow there is unanimity on the Democratic side, that they would support a CR at sequester level is an assumption that I question,” Cantor said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) this week said House Democrats were willing to drop their opposition to the sequester levels in a short-term bill funding the government — but only if Republicans agreed to strip language defunding or delaying ObamaCare.
— Mike Lillis contributed.