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Entries in Eric Cantor (46)

Tuesday
Jan012013

House GOP Wary of Senate Deal That Could Add Trillions to Deficit

Photo Courtesy: Architect of the Capitol(NEW YORK) -- Top House Republicans Tuesday opposed a bipartisan compromise that passed the Senate in the wee hours of New Year's Day to avert the "fiscal cliff," as new studies conclude that the compromise on taxes and spending would add trillions to the U.S. deficit.

If House Republicans tweak the legislation, as they seem likely to do, there's no clear path for its return to the Senate before a new Congress is sworn in Thursday.

GOP leaders emerged from a morning conference meeting disenchanted by the legislative package devised by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Biden early Tuesday morning, with several insisting they cannot vote on it as it now stands.

"I do not support the bill," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said as he left the meeting. "We're looking for the best path forward. No decisions have been made yet."

It's almost certain that Republicans will attempt to amend the bill in order to win over the support of more conservatives.

House Speaker John Boehner refused to comment on the meeting, but his spokesman said "the lack of spending cuts in the Senate bill was a universal concern amongst members in today's meeting."

"Conversations with members will continue throughout the afternoon on the path forward," Brendan Buck said in a statement.

As lawmakers wrestled with the legislation, the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office, two bipartisan groups that evaluate the cost of bills, said the measure would add roughly $4 trillion to the federal deficit in the next 10 years.

The impasse once again raised the specter of sweeping tax hikes on all Americans and deep spending cuts taking effect later this week.

"This is all about time, and it's about time that we brought this to the floor," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said after emerging from a meeting with Democrats.

"It was a bill that was passed in the U.S. senate 89-8. Tell me when you've had that on a measure as controversial as this?" she said of the overwhelming vote.

Pelosi could not say, however, whether the measure had the backing of most House Democrats. "Our members are making their decisions now," she said.

Biden, who brokered the deal with McConnell, joined Democrats for a midday meeting on Capitol Hill seeking to shore up support for the plan.

While Congress technically missed the midnight Dec. 31 deadline to avert the so-called cliff, both sides have expressed eagerness to enact a post-facto fix before Americans go back to work and the stock market opens Wednesday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec212012

Boehner Pulls Plan B Option as Fiscal Cliff Talks Fall into Disarray

TOBY JORRIN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a surprise development late Thursday night, House Speaker John Boehner pulled his so-called "Plan B option" -- an extension of current tax rates for Americans making up to $1 million a year -- from the House floor, admitting that it did not have the support necessary to pass and leaving a resolution to the fiscal cliff in question.

"The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass. Now it is up to the president to work with [Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff," Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote in a statement. "The House has already passed legislation to stop all of the Jan. 1 tax rate increases and replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts that will begin to address our nation's crippling debt. The Senate must now act."

Immediately after the announcement that "plan B" had failed, Dow Jones Industrial futures traded down, with other stock indicators also signaling sharp losses and volatility for Friday morning's opening -- though stock futures generally are lightly traded in the evening. Indicators soon bounced off the initial lows but still signaled a rough start to the final trading session of the week.

In Washington, all legislative business has concluded for the week. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's office said that members could still return, "after the Christmas holiday when needed" if a breakthrough is eventually reached.

The outlook for a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" by Christmas has reached a new low, with no clear path forward, though lawmakers and the White House maintained hope this week for a deficit-reduction compromise by the end of the year.

A senior aide to the speaker confirmed late Thursday evening that Boehner and Obama still have not spoken since Monday evening, when the speaker told the president that he would move ahead with his backup plan, although staff-level talks have continued behind the scenes.

"Speaker Boehner tried to play hardball by asking his members to vote for a tax increase. He learned the hard way that you must find a bipartisan solution," one senior House Democratic leadership aide said reacting to the developments. "Walking away has considerably weakened him and put the country literally on the precipice of the cliff."

Republicans had sought to act to avoid an income tax hike on 99 percent of Americans in 2013, and leverage new pressure on President Obama in the ongoing talks for a broader "cliff" deal.

Obama has threatened to veto the legislation, calling it counterproductive and the cuts burdensome for the middle class, and Reid, D-Nev., has promised not to bring it up for consideration in the Senate.

"'Plan B' ... is a multi-day exercise in futility at a time when we do not have the luxury of exercises in futility," said White House spokesman Jay Carney Thursday.

Democrats complained that the posturing on "plan B" distracted the focus from a broader bargain on taxes, spending, entitlement reforms and other measures that had begun coming into focus earlier this week.

Reid said the Senate would break for the Christmas holiday but return to Washington one week from Thursday. President Obama will not join his family in Hawaii on Friday as planned if the "cliff" is not resolved, an administration official said.

"If you look at Speaker Boehner's proposal and you look at my proposal, they're actually pretty close," Obama said Wednesday, appealing for a big "fair deal."

"It is a deal that can get done," he said. "But it cannot be done if every side wants 100 percent. And part of what voters were looking for is some compromise up here."

The latest offers exchanged by Obama and Boehner are roughly $450 billion apart, largely differing on where to draw the line for an income tax hike at the end of the year.

Obama wants to see rates rise on incomes above $400,000 a year, a concession from his earlier insistence on a $250,000 threshold. Boehner, who had opposed any tax rate increase, now says he could agree to a rate hike on earners of $1 million or more.

Both sides also disagree about the size of spending cuts and changes to entitlement programs.

Obama's plan would trim spending by $800 billion over a decade with half coming from Medicare and Medicaid. He has also agreed to limits on future cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries, something anathema to many Democrats.

But Boehner has said the cuts are insufficient. He seeks $1 trillion or more in spending reductions, citing entitlement programs as the primary drivers of U.S. deficits and debt.

"For weeks the White House said that if I moved on [tax] rates that they would make substantial concessions on spending cuts and entitlement reforms. I did my part. They've done nothing," Boehner said Thursday.

"The real issue here, as we all know, is spending," he said. "I don't think that the White House has gotten serious about the big spending problem that our country faces."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct022012

Virginia Democratic Challenger Dings House GOP Leader Cantor

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(RICHMOND, Va.) -- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, an overwhelming favorite to win re-election in his congressional race, received a tongue-lashing from Democratic challenger Wayne Powell during a rare debate appearance Monday night in Virginia.

Powell hit the Republican with an assortment of "zingers."

"You're so far removed from reality," he told Cantor, "I don't think you even know what a small business is except for a hedge fund," and he spent much of the night seeking to cast the incumbent as a corporate pawn hopelessly beholden to a small group of big donors.

"I am really surprised to be here," Powell, a retired Army colonel and first-time candidate, confessed to the audience after introducing himself at the open.

But the mood thickened as he and Cantor began to take questions on the coming "fiscal cliff," the result of an August 2011 congressional bargain that raised the debt ceiling but also put into place $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, or "sequestration," and tax hikes that would be triggered if no new deficit reduction plan is agreed on by early 2013.

Virginia could lose as many as 136,000 jobs, according to a George Mason University study, if Congress fails to meet its self-imposed deadline, which Cantor said he opposed even after helping push it through the House.

"Mr. Powell keeps saying that I supported the sequester," the majority leader said. "As he knows good and well, that's not true. The president insisted on its insertion into the debt-ceiling deal."

"It's the blame game," Powell shot back. "'It's Mr. Obama's problem.' No, it's Mr. Cantor's problem, it's the Congress's problem. They created the budget."

The debate, sponsored by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and hosted in heavily Republican Goochland County, will likely be the last time the candidates share a stage. Powell has asked for two more meetings, but Cantor, who is in line to win a seventh term in the state's seventh district, is unlikely to accept his invitation.

So Powell took his shots while he could. After Cantor laid out how he saw Mitt Romney's proposed tax cuts package benefitting small businesses, the Democrat accused him of advocating for business owners at the expense of their employees.

"He never talks about working people, he only talks about business people," Powell said. "These people are suffering. I see them all the time."

Cantor, who won his last re-election race by 25 points, maintained his genteel bearing throughout the hour-long encounter, never straying from the party line, especially on taxes.

President Obama's economic policies, which he tied to Powell at every opportunity, forged a "path to higher taxes, more regulation and, frankly, less jobs and more dependency," Cantor said, before adding, more pointedly, that "these kind of attacks don't get things done."

"These aren't attacks," an incredulous Powell replied, "they're descriptions. I'm describing you."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug312012

Ryan: Ticket Needs to Do More Than Say the President Is ‘No Good’

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images(Richmond, Va.) -- Paul Ryan was supposed to be rallying in Virginia Friday with his running mate, but when Mitt Romney announced he was heading to Louisiana to visit parts of New Orleans hit hard by Hurricane Isaac, Ryan got a different wing man: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Ryan said Romney was in New Orleans “meeting with victims of the hurricane, bringing attention to those who are in Isaac’s path,” urging those standing on the scorching airline tarmac in Richmond to “send their prayers and their dollars” to charities that help the Hurricane victims.

Ryan and Cantor disembarked the candidate’s brand new campaign plane with the words “Believe in America” printed on the side and walked down a long runway with Ryan’s wife, Janna, his three children and his mother in tow as Neil Diamond’s “America” blasted from the speakers.

Cantor, who represents Virginia’s 7th congressional district (which includes part of Richmond), called Ryan not only a “colleague, but a very, very dear friend.”

“I have had the experience of knowing him when he works, and when he works, and when he works,” Cantor said. "Because I’ll tell you he can play a little but he’s a hard worker.”

Ryan returned the compliment, calling the Virginia congressman one of his “closest friends.”

The vice presidential candidate quickly moved to politics and said his ticket needs to do more than just say President Obama is “no good” while specifically pitching to the voters in this exceptionally important battleground state. Both the GOP ticket and the president have been campaigning on the ground and on the airwaves aggressively there.

“We are not just going to go to you and say, "Vote against the other guy because he’s no good,” Ryan said, in front of a crowd of more than 1,500.  "You deserve more than that.  The record’s no good,  we’re offering solutions. We’re offering specific ideas. We’re saying, 'Here’s how you take these principles that built America -- liberty, freedom, free enterprise, self-determination, government by consent of the governed.'  By the way, the government  works for us, not the other way around.  And of all people who should understand that, it’s Virginians. It’s Virginians that gave us this doctrine.”

Historically, Virginia voted Democratic until 1952, when the state turned Republican for presidential elections. In those 60 years, there have been just two exceptions: Lyndon Johnson’s landslide in 1964, and in 2008 Obama carried the state 53 percent to 46 percent over John McCain.

Ryan said a Romney-Ryan administration would “guarantee” the promises they make on the campaign trail, eliciting a huge cheer with his oft-repeated theme: “We have got to stop spending money we just don’t have.”

“The senate hasn’t passed a budget in three years,” Ryan said. “It’s a disgrace. It’s an abdication of responsibility. President Obama gave us four budgets with trillion-dollar deficits every year and no solution to make sure that we can guarantee Medicare. No solution that makes sure we guarantee these promises that were made to our seniors are kept. No solution to guarantee that our children inherit a debt-free nation. We will provide the leadership to guarantee that that happens.”

According to several Romney aides, when Ryan was originally selected as Romney’s running mate, the plan was to have the ticket campaign separately. But because of their ease with each other, the bigger crowds they pull in, and the energy they give to each other, they are often campaigning together. Saturday, they join back up again in Florida for a rally in Jacksonville.

At the end of Friday's rally, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell hopped on the stage, seemingly surprising even Ryan himself. McDonnell landed at the end of the event, just in from Tampa.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Aug042012

GOP Address: House Leader Eric Cantor and the Problem with Taxes

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's Republican address, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor focuses on rebutting the president’s tax proposals, but joins the president in wishing well for the athletes.

“Watching the Olympics this week, I am reminded that one of the things that sets America apart is that ordinary people have the freedom to accomplish extraordinary things,” Cantor states. "Every day I hear from Americans who are ready to do the extraordinary: Open a new business, create new jobs, build a better future for our children and theirs.  All they ask is that Washington get out of the way.”

“While we continue to work to provide solutions here at home, we wish our athletes in London the very best,” he said.

Cantor, like his colleagues who have delivered the address before him, says it is imperative to put a stop to the plan by President Obama and Democrats to extend tax cuts for households with incomes less than $250,000.  This week, the Democrat-led Senate passed this bill which would allow taxes to increase for wealthier Americans. Meanwhile, House Republicans voted in favor of a bill to stop the impending tax increase set to take effect for all Americans next year.

"The threat of higher taxes and more red tape has our small business owners anxiously sitting on the sidelines rather than starting a new business and hiring another employee," Cantor says in the address.

He adds, "These men and women know what some in Washington apparently do not, that higher taxes and more regulations do not create jobs.  Entrepreneurs do.  Red tape and new taxes just make the job of creating jobs that much harder."

The House leader notes President Obama's stance on tax increases less than two years ago, saying the president "actually agreed with House Republicans that a tax increase on our small businessmen and women would hurt our economy."

"This raises the question: does President Obama now believe our economy is doing so well that we can afford to raise taxes on small businesses?" Cantor asks.

Jobs data released Friday showed a jump in the U.S. unemployment rate from 8.2 percent to 8.3 percent, despite the addition of 163,000 jobs in June.  Cantor says that he is hopeful that Washington can come together on bipartisan legislation that will put the breaks on any tax hikes or red tape that he says would slow down job creation.

"We have made clear our willingness to be here in Washington if the President and Harry Reid will finally decide to join us in a bipartisan solution to stop the massive tax hike," he says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Apr292012

Obama Rips Romney, Congress, and Own Presidency at Correspondents’ Dinner

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — With Congress continuing unprecedented levels of bitter partisan debate and the 2012 presidential campaign in full swing, President Obama struck back Saturday night at a town consumed by politics with a light-hearted roast of his critics and own administration.

To all the Congress “members who took a break from their exhausting schedule of not passing any laws to be here tonight,” he said. “Let’s give them a big round of applause.”

The White House Correspondent’s Dinner is an event where a huge gathering of journalists, politicians, and pop culture celebrities hit the nation’s capital each spring. It’s a time for Washington elite to hobnob with Hollywood stars and, traditionally, for presidents to respond to contemporary issues with a little humor.

The president began by reflecting briefly on last year’s gala; an evening when, unbeknownst to the public, the commander in chief had just given the order to put down “one of the world’s most notorious individuals.” Not Osama bin Laden, but Donald Trump.

And Obama delved quickly into his more immediate critics:

“It’s great to be here this evening in the vast, magnificent Hilton ballroom,” Obama told the audience. “Or what Mitt Romney would call a little fixer-upper.”

Recognizing it was going to be a tough campaign in the fall, the president digressed that he actually had a lot in common with the Republican candidate.

“We both think of our wives as our better halves and polls show, to an alarmingly insulting extent, the American people agree,” he said.

Both Romney and Obama pursued college degrees from Harvard. “I have one, he has two. What a snob.”

Even Dog-gate was not off the table, with the president showing a satirical Romney attack-ad against First Pooch Bo Obama. Could American dogs afford four more years of Obama? “For them, that’s 28 years.”

“That’s pretty rough, but I can take it,” he responded. “My stepfather always told me, ‘It’s a boy-eat-dog world out there.’”

Romney was not present for the riff, although Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were in attendance. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and a motley crew of lawmakers were also in the audience.

Obama did take a more serious tone toward the end of his remarks, thanking the assembled journalists for their work and recognizing the sacrifices of reporters Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin, who died “to shine a light on some of the most important stories of our time.” Obama told the correspondents he never forgets the dependence of freedom on an open press.

Before departing, he said he needed to get the Secret Service back in time for their new curfew.

Several journalists were presented awards for their coverage of the executive branch. A team from Politico was recognized for their analysis of the negotiations to raise the U.S. debt ceiling; and Associated Press journalists for their series on the New York Police Department’s surveillance program of minority communities under CIA guidance. The AP has also won a Pulitzer Prize for their investigation.

In the broadcast category ABC’s Tapper was awarded for his scoop that Standard and Poor’s would downgrade the U.S. credit rating over Washington gridlock. It is Tapper’s third consecutive year to be honored at the event.

Proceeds from the lavish dinner are divided among the awards and scholarships for journalism students, also given out that evening. But the president said between the tuxedos, gowns, and fine wine, he was just happy it wasn’t a GSA conference.

Following the dinner, the glitterati huddled under umbrellas to attend a number of after parties hosted by MSNBC at the Embassy of Italy, Vanity Fair at French ambassador's residence and Capitol File's soiree at the Newseum.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar222012

New Facebook App Lets Voters ‘Cosponsor’ Bills in Congress

Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has launched a new app on Facebook called Citizen CoSponsor, designed to connect voters with bills making their way through Capitol Hill.

The new platform allows users to “cosponsor” a bill -- essentially the equivalent of “liking” in Facebook lingo -- and receive updates on its status throughout the legislative process, from committee hearings to votes. There is also a “keep me informed” option, which allows citizens to follow the bill rather than support it.

“We are dedicated to modernizing the way Congress connects with the American people,” Cantor said in a statement. “With the simple click of a button, Citizen CoSponsors will become a part of the deliberative process, using the same social networks they already rely on in their everyday lives.”

Citizen CoSponsor is built on Facebook’s Open Graph, which allows third-party developers to create apps that “deeply integrate into the core Facebook experience.”

Matt Lira, director of digital media for Rep. Cantor, says the genesis of the idea came as a challenge to re-think the way Congress can better communicate with the public in this social media-driven age.

“We’re still in beta,” Lira said. “This hasn’t been done inside of government or Congress [yet], and we envision in the future providing opportunities for more user engagement.”

Lira also cited Rep. Darrell Issa’s, R-Calif., Project Madison, an interactive blogging platform that allows citizens to comment on individual passages of legislation, as an example of the inspiration behind Citizien CoSponsor.

Cantor’s office hopes that the platform will encourage more engagement between American voters and Congress, as well as create a transparent and open legislative process.

At launch, the platform has six bills and only one of those is sponsored by a Democrat, sparking critics to charge that the app is partisan. Shortly after Rep. Cantor’s office tweeted about the app’s unveiling on Tuesday, the press office of House Minority Whip Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., tweeted back: “We like the idea of Citizen CoSponsor, but why did you re-write the bill titles and descriptions in an entirely partisan way?”

But Lira said he “would dispute that characterization.” He added that Cantor’s office is “looking for ways to involve all people in the program,” which means Democrats, Republicans and independent voters alike.

As of March 22, the bill with the most Facebook sponsorships is the Republicans’ 20-percent tax cut proposal for businesses with fewer than 500 employees. The bill is sponsored by Cantor and currently has 935 sponsors.

Other bills included on the platform are the DATA (Digital Accounting and Transparency) Act, the Permanent Hyde Rule (no taxpayer funding for abortion) and Repeal IPAB (the health law’s Independent Payment Advisory Board). The one Democrat-sponsored bill is Rep. Al Green’s, D-Texas, Homes for Heroes Act, which has 269 Facebook sponsors, the lowest number of all the bills.

“On the scale of partisanship, I don’t know if this comes on the heavy end,” Lira said, adding that the app includes Democratic and bipartisan legislation. “But that’s the typical back and forth of Hill politics. One side does something, the other side throws up a volley, but I’m hopeful we’ll overcome it and succeed.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar042012

Eric Cantor: House Majority Leader Endorses Mitt Romney

Alex Wong/Getty Image(WASHINGTON) -- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, officially threw his support behind Mitt Romney Sunday morning, becoming the highest ranking Member of Congress to endorse a GOP presidential candidate.

Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, said on NBC’s Meet the Press that with the economy being the top priority in this election, Romney was the candidate best suited to fix the country’s fiscal problems.

“Mitt Romney is the only candidate in the race who’s put forward a bold pro-growth, pro-jobs plan for the future,” Cantor said. “America has a critical leadership role [globally] and we have to fix our ailing economy and Mitt Romney’s plan does that.”

Cantor’s endorsement comes just two days before voters in his home state of Virginia head to the polls on Super Tuesday.

The Republican leader said he was confident Romney will do “very well” in Virginia, but did not say if the former Massachusetts governor could lock up his lead in the GOP race on Super Tuesday, where 10 states will vote and 419 delegates are up for grabs.

“That’s for the pundits to answer,” Cantor said. ”It’ll be a hard fought race to the end.”

Cantor stopped short of saying that Romney’s chief rivals, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, should drop out of the race.

“I think that our race and our system allows anyone to participate in the process,” Cantor said. “But I do believe Mitt Romney will win our nomination and will win the presidency in November.”

Romney’s senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said Cantor called Romney on Wednesday—the day after Romney’s clutch wins in the Michigan and Arizona primaries—to inform him of his support.

“It was a pleasant surprise,” Fehrnstrom said, adding that GOP congressional leaders such as Cantor are probably looking for a presidential candidate that can lead Republicans to big victories in Congress as well as the White House.

“I gotta believe in the back of his mind he’s also thinking about maintaining a Republican majority in the house,” Fehrnstrom said. “Elected Republicans are looking for someone who has coat tails and not concrete shoes and I think nominating a person who doesn’t have any experience in the private sector,  has been a Washington insider all his life like Rick Santorum, is not a good contrast for the Republican Party to put up against Barack Obama.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov152011

Super Committee Searches for Appetizing Deal as Deadline Looms

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As President Obama tells Congress to “bite the bullet” on an agreement to slash $1.5 trillion from the deficit over the next decade, less than 10 days remain for the so-called Super Committee to come to terms on a deal, and just about everyone is predicting it will fail.

Over the past year, the House Republican leadership has frequently used the metaphor of “three bites at the apple” to cut spending -- the first nibble coming in the form of the continuing resolution, the second chomp at the fiscal year 2012 budget, and the third course being trillions of dollars in deficit savings concocted in a deal to increase the debt limit.

But with the previous two bites of the fruit fully digested and the committee’s Nov. 23 deadline looming, the president prodded Congress to munch on something that’s potentially a little less healthy.

“My hope is that over the next several days, the Congressional leadership on the super committee go ahead and bite the bullet and do what needs to be done because the math won’t change,” Obama said Sunday night during a news conference in Hawaii.  “People keep on wanting to jigger the math so that they get a different outcome.  Well, the equation, no matter how you do it, is going to be the same.”

When faced with the president’s latest rhetorical challenge, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor would not “opine” about whether bullets are more appetizing than apples, but he said he understood the pressure the committee faces, citing his experience during the deficit reduction talks led by Vice President Joe Biden earlier this year.

“I don’t want to be opining as to bullets or apples,” Cantor, R-Va., told reporters Monday.  “I’m not going to opine about [the super committee's] work, about reported deals.  Again, I served on the Biden talks . I know how difficult it is, and how much pressure they’re under.”

Cantor refused the ensuing onslaught of questions searching for a hint of progress in the negotiations, but he predicted the committee would meet its mandate on time.

“We’ve got to let them do their work,” he said.  “I’m hopeful that there will be a good result come the Nov. 23 deadline.”

Meanwhile, that third apple might be beginning to rot.  Congressional sources close to the negotiations maintain that “talks are ongoing” but refuse to characterize how close the 12-member panel is to coalescing around a consensus proposal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov012011

Biden to Host Cantor for Dinner

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will host an intimate dinner with one of the administration’s sharpest critics, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and his wife, Diana, the White House announced.

The encounter, set for Wednesday night at the Naval Observatory, the Bidens’ official Washington residence, comes as Biden and President Obama step up pressure on lawmakers of both parties to pass portions of their jobs bill.

They met with House Democratic leaders Tuesday at the White House.

A Cantor aide called the dinner “completely social,” adding that the couples have been trying to schedule it for some time.

“Leader Cantor has a great respect for and built a friendship with Vice President Biden from their work earlier this year,” the aide said, “and this social dinner is a continuation of that friendship with their wives.”

Last month, Biden told a Washington forum of Cantor, “I like him a lot. He’s smart as heck.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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