By Justin Sink - 06/28/13 01:36 PM EDT
President Obama's comments about not scrambling jets to capture Edward Snowden were "flippant," the number two House Republican said Thursday.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Obama's comments suggest he isn't taking the matter seriously enough.
"I think the president's remark was kind of flippant. I don't think he gives justice to this grave matter that the country's facing," Cantor told Yahoo News.
"I call on the president to reverse that attitude and say we're going to get engaged and we're going to lead."
Cantor was reacting to Obama's comments on Thursday that he didn't expect to involve the military in extracting Snowden, the former defense contractor who claimed responsibility for leaking details of top-secret National Security Agency programs. "No, I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker," Obama said.
In the wide-ranging interview, Cantor also said he planed to reach out to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights icon, as the House leadership considered a Supreme Court decision that struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, unless Congress updated the criteria by which jurisdictions subject to "pre-screening" of changes to any voting laws was updated.
"I look forward to having some discussions," Cantor said. "I intend to talk to John Lewis about his thoughts on this matter. I think that you could probably say for both sides of the political aisle — no matter where you come from regionally — that very sacred right to vote is in the underpinning of this country."
Following the decision on Tuesday, Lewis told ABC News the ruling had "put a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act."
"These men that voted to strip the Voting Rights Act of its power, they never stood in unmovable lines, they never had to pass a so-called literacy test," he later told MSNBC. "It took us almost 100 years to get where we are today. So will it take another 100 years to fix it, to change it?"