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Steny Hoyer to Eric Cantor: ‘Talk Is Cheap’

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer slammed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Tuesday, ahead of a Cantor speech to the Brookings Institution on Wednesday.

“Talk is cheap,” Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing of the Virginia Republican. “Performance is what pays off.”

The Maryland Democrat’s remarks came the day before Cantor is scheduled to deliver a speech at the Brookings Institution on school choice as an avenue for solving income inequality in America. They also came on the heels of House passage of the Gabriella Miller Kids First Act, which the chamber’s No. 2 Republican championed and which authorizes funds for pediatric health research.  

“The Kids Act provides for authorization, not appropriation, for pediatric research. Now, the [National Institutes of Health] spends $800 million annually on pediatric health,” Hoyer said. “This bill, which they talk about and which Mr. Cantor thinks made a good statement, does make a good statement about the need for kids research [but Republicans] voted for a budget offered by [Paul] Ryan that would have the effect of cutting NIH by $6 billion, if the cuts were applied across the board.

“And of course politically it sounds very good because they take away from politicians and conventions,” Hoyer continued, regarding the Kids First Act’s pay-for. “I don’t think anybody cares whether they take that money away or not, whether you have the public pay for that or the private sector pay for it.”

Hoyer didn’t stop there.

“It’s very nice to go around the country and say you’re for education, but … you cut the Labor-Health bill by 22.6 percent in your budget,” he said. “It’s very nice to say you’re for No Child Left Behind, but you didn’t fund it.

“So talk is cheap, performance is what counts, it’s the Reagan ‘Trust but Verify,'” Hoyer concluded. “Okay, so you say nice things. What are you doing?”

Cantor spokesman Doug Heye fired back in a statement to CQ Roll Call.

“House Republicans put talk into action by passing the Student Success Act, which included a Cantor amendment directing Title I money follow the student, and overwhelmingly approving the Gabriella Miller Kids First Act,” Heye said. “We’re especially grateful for the 72 House Democrats who rejected both Mr. Hoyer’s cynicism and whip and voted for Gabriella Miller’s bill.”

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