WASHINGTON -- Republicans will turn their focus to jobs after they pass a stopgap bill to continue funding the government, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said on Wednesday, admitting that the focus so far this year has been on cuts rather than job growth.
"We’ve been about cut and grow. The fact is for the last eight months plus, we’ve been about cuts," he said. "That’s why it is imperative that all of us join together [and] work with the president to see how we can grow this economy."
House Republicans have pushed for major discretionary spending cuts and entitlement changes under the House-passed budget from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Democrats have hit them hard for failing to focus on jobs, although Republicans say the spending cuts are intertwined with their plan for economic growth.
Still, Cantor said he and his fellow GOP members will return from the August recess taking a more cooperative tone with the president, setting the scene for his party's comments after President Obama's Thursday evening jobs speech. It was a stark change from the pre-recess rancor, when both parties sniped at each other over who would be too blame for default if a debt ceiling increase did not take place.
"I don’t question the president’s motives or his commitment to the country now," he said. "And I think that’s the way forward as we really put our minds to work. ... I believe that all of us, both sides are trying to do what’s best for the country."
One of the first steps will be to take up a continuing resolution to fund the government, which Congress will address the week of Sept. 19, Cantor said.
House Republicans hoped to move through the normal budget process, but delays in passing the 12 appropriations bills makes the task virtually impossible to complete by the Sept. 30 deadline. Instead, Cantor confirmed there will be a continuing resolution to fund the government after the current continuing resolution runs out on Sept. 30.
The bill will likely take government funding through "late fall," Cantor said, though he declined to comment on specific dates.
The bill should cut discretionary spending by about $7 billion, according to a deal set in place during the debt ceiling increase in August. But some House Republicans would like to see further cuts as part of the upcoming bill.
In an Aug. 17 memo, Cantor hinted at the upcoming tension over where -- and how much -- to cut spending as part of the upcoming continuing resolution.
"While all of us would like to have seen a lower discretionary appropriations ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year, the debt limit agreement did set a level of spending that is a real cut from the current year level," he reminded members. "I believe it is in our interest to enact into law full-year appropriations bills at this new lower level."