President Obama and Cantor are all smiles as JOBS Act is signed into law

President Obama and Cantor are all smiles as JOBS Act is signed into law

After clashing repeatedly last year, House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorVirginia GOP candidates for governor gear up for convention Cantor: 'Level of craziness' in Washington has increased 'on both sides' White House says bills are bipartisan even if GOP doesn't vote for them MORE (R-Va.) and President Obama made nice on Thursday as Obama signed Cantor’s JOBS Act into law.

The relationship between Cantor and Obama has been rocky, and reached a low point during last summer’s debt-ceiling negotiations, when Obama reportedly warned Cantor to not “call my bluff.”


But the strain has eased this year, and the two men were all smiles in the Rose Garden as the president affixed his signature to legislation that had been a top priority of Cantor’s.

Obama praised the measure as “exactly the kind of bipartisan action we should be taking in Washington to help our economy” and signed the bill with 11 ceremonial pens, one for each letter of his name.

Cantor stood directly behind Obama for the signing, and said in a statement he hoped it was a sign of things to come. 

“We have a very difficult economic situation still,” Cantor said. “The president said today that he has always believed that it is the private sector that is the job generator in this country. I agree with him. I think most Americans agree with him."

The president was joined on stage by Cantor and four other Republicans: Reps. Spencer BachusSpencer Thomas BachusManufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Biz groups take victory lap on Ex-Im Bank On The Money: White House files notice of China tariff hikes | Dems cite NYT report in push for Trump tax returns | Trump hits Iran with new sanctions | Trump praises GM for selling shuttered Ohio factory | Ex-Im Bank back at full strength MORE (Ala.), Patrick McHenry (N.C.) and Scott GarrettErnest (Scott) Scott GarrettOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Biz groups take victory lap on Ex-Im Bank Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations MORE (N.J.), along with Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.). Democratic Reps. John Larson (Conn.), John Carney (Del.) and Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellAlabama museum unveils restored Greyhound bus for Freedom Rides' 60th anniversary Rep. Terri Sewell declines to run for Senate in Alabama Amazon union battle comes to Washington MORE (Ala.) were also on hand, as was D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. 

Twice during the signing Obama made quiet comments that drew laughter from the lawmakers on stage, including Cantor. 

The president ruffled some feathers by backing Cantor’s bill, putting himself at odds with consumer activists, union leaders and some members of his own party.

The measure is aimed at making it easier for small businesses to access credit or go public, but some Democrats — including Illinois Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Manchin, Murkowski call for bipartisan Voting Rights Act reauthorization Schumer in bind over fight to overhaul elections MORE, the Democratic whip — argued it goes too far in deregulating Wall Street.

Despite the concerns of some Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidStrange bedfellows: UFOs are uniting Trump's fiercest critics, loyalists Bottom line Biden's first 100 days is stylistic 'antithesis' of Trump MORE (D-Nev.) followed Obama’s cue and fast-tracked the legislation through the Senate after it passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 380 to 41.

Last week, Cantor told The Hill he hopes the president and congressional leaders will work together more frequently over the next several months. 

“I hope it’s that all of us are looking toward driving toward results and looking toward solutions. We all know there are plenty of differences between the two sides in Washington,” he said.

But bipartisan legislation is unlikely during a high-stakes election year where even ceremonial bill-signings, like Thursday’s, have become a source of political friction.

Republicans have grumbled over the decreased frequency of the bill-signing events, arguing the president is avoiding them to avoid calling attention to Congress’s achievements while running against an obstructionist, “do-nothing” Legislative Branch.
Republicans argue that a number of recent bipartisan achievements, such as the reauthorization of funding for the Federal Aviation Administration and the passage of three trade deals last fall, were worthy of the honor. 

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBipartisanship has become a partisan weapon The Memo: Lawmakers on edge after Greene's spat with Ocasio-Cortez What's a party caucus chair worth? MORE (R-Ohio) has not attended a bill signing at the White House since taking the gavel from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last year. 

The White House has said that there is no concerted effort to bury bipartisan accomplishments, and said the signing events are dictated by the president’s schedule.

On Wednesday, again flanked by members of both parties, the president signed into law the STOCK Act, making Thursday’s event the second one this week, although it’s only the third of 2012. 

In February, the president signed former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) final piece of legislation, passed before she resigned to concentrate on rehabilitation from wounds suffered in a Tucson shooting spree last year. 

Asked about the infrequency of signing ceremonies on Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said “there are a lot of moving pieces” in terms of schedules, and that the administration couldn’t assume Republicans in Congress wanted to participate in such events. 

Plus, Carney said, Republicans had never before seemed “eager to appear next to the president.”