By Jason Millman and Julian Pecquet - 01/04/11 08:10 PM EST
Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Tuesday defended Republicans' decision to vote on healthcare reform repeal without paying for it or allowing Democratic amendments.
Democrats have accused the GOP of violating its campaign pledges to be more transparent and cut the deficit with their first big vote of the new Congress, scheduled for next Wednesday.
In a press conference to lay out the GOP's agenda for the 112th Congress, Cantor defended his party's decision to quickly try to repeal the bill. Cantor did not directly respond to questions about whether Republicans would allow amendments to the repeal bill, but he said the party is working to fulfill the American public's expectations for a quick vote on repeal.
"Most people believe this healthcare bill was litigated through the election," he said.
Cantor added, however, that Democrats and the public would later be brought on board as Republican-controlled committees develop alternative policies with which to replace the Democrats' bill. A resolution, introduced Monday night, directs key committees to develop proposals to replace the reform law based on certain criteria.
Asked whether House Republicans would act like President Obama who once dismissed a Cantor tax cut proposal with the words "elections have consequences," Cantor told reporters that "we're not taking that attitude."
"We're going to be charging our committees to go about formulating a replacement of the kind of healthcare that people want ... and that process will be one of openness," he said.
Cantor also defended Republicans' proposal to vote on repeal without taking into account the $124 billion that the Congressional Budget Office says the bill would cut from the federal deficit. Democrats have been accusing the GOP of hypocrisy as a result and outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday morning that the reform law cannot be repealed without "causing very serious violence to the national deficit and debt."
Cantor responded by saying the projected savings were the result of "budget gimmickry" and the reform law would wind up costing more than predicted. That's partly because some of the law's taxes start early while the most costly benefits - subsidies for people to buy insurance - are put off until 2014.
"Everyone knows that beyond the 10-year window, this bill has the potential to bankrup the federal government and the states," Cantor said.