House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Thursday defended his use of the weekly leadership colloquy to push the GOP message and said his gripes about Democrats were not personally directed at Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
Cantor cited a story in Roll Call earlier this week that detailed his increasingly caustic exchanges with Hoyer during the duo’s weekly floor session.
“I know the gentleman doesn’t take any of this personally, nor do I, because I enjoy coming to the floor to debate substance and policy in these colloquies, something that frankly is not done often enough in this House,” Cantor said, adding that he and Hoyer have a history of working together on several issues such as Puerto Rico statehood, and matters that involve Israel and Iran.
Cantor argued that the issues he has brought up during the colloquy are rooted in the fact that Republicans have had little time on the floor to vocalize their concerns about the Democrats’ priorities.
The Minority Whip acknowledged to Hoyer that Republicans were as much “to blame as much as the other side” for the state of the economy. But he also argued that Hoyer’s reiteration of that reality has little to do with the schedule week to week.
“We become very frustrated … that every time we begin even to hint at a desire to bring spending cuts to the floor, that somehow we need a lecture on the last couple of decades as to what’s happened in this country from a fiscal standpoint,” Cantor said.
While the back-and-forth between Cantor and Hoyer was noticeably more restrained in tone Thursday, the substance of the Members’ debate was largely the same.
For example, Cantor did not miss the opportunity to again ask Hoyer to bring the Republican YouCut spending reductions to the floor.
Hoyer declined to acquiesce and explained the cuts were simply too small to make any difference in the gaping federal deficit.
“The individual items which you have just outlined are worthy of consideration, and asking the American public their recommendations is absolutely the right thing for us to do as a democratic body,” Hoyer said. “But let us not kid the people that we cannot — that we can deal with the budget hole that has been dug over the last eight years from surplus to deep deficit.”
Hoyer again offered to bring Budget ranking member Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) Roadmap for America’s Future bill to the floor, which would dramatically remake Social Security and Medicare to balance the budget.
“I don’t seek contrition,” Hoyer said. “I am looking for recognition that we need to work together and be honest, are worthy of consideration but they will not get us where we need to get.”
Cantor did not address the offer and instead reiterated his push for floor consideration of the YouCut programs.
“The gentleman continues to say that the YouCut proposals are too small, though worthy, too small to even fix any problem that’s not true. … We’re about trying to change the culture here in Washington,” Cantor said.