CAMBRIDGE, Md. (AP) — House Republican leaders challenged the White House and Democrats to work "without further delay" on four bills that are stalled in the Senate, saying their passage would constitute a good start on President Barack Obama's call for a year of action in his State of the Union address.
In a letter to the president released Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and the other members of the leadership said the measures deal with job training programs, construction of natural gas pipelines, workplace rules and money for pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health.
All would help achieve some of the priorities Obama laid out in his speech, the letter said.
"Mr. President, as you reminded us all on Tuesday night, sometimes things don't come easy, but we should never give up and never quit," the letter read.
"We are confident that success in these areas will open even more avenues for success. The American people are counting on us. Let's get to work," it read.
The House has passed legislation relating to each of the four areas that the leadership outlined in the letter, but all of the bills are bogged down by opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The letter was released as the House Republican rank and file began a two-day retreat on the Maryland Eastern Shore. Officials said the principal areas of discussion would be immigration legislation, health care and the administration's call for a measure to clear by the end of February to raise the nation's $17 trillion debt limit.
In his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, Obama urged lawmakers to work with him in key areas, many of them pocketbook-related, at a time when public anxiety is growing about the income gap between rich and poor.
Obama said that if lawmakers won't work with him, he'll act on his own.
Republicans say the president's ability to accomplish his agenda through executive action is limited, and cooperation will be needed if he is to achieve much of what he wants.
The two sides have quarreled fiercely during Obama's presidency. Yet with lawmakers at the beginning of an election-year session, each side is eager to be seen as striving toward cooperation rather than toward the gridlock that the public views unfavorably.
In addition to Boehner, the letter was signed by Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader; Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the whip; and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, the fourth-ranking member of the leadership.