House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Friday sent GOP lawmakers a memo outlining the chamber's winter agenda, which mostly excludes major legislation, instead aiming to blunt the impact of the health care law and regulations implemented by the “imperial presidency” of the Obama administration.
Cantor announced that lawmakers will vote the week of March 10 on legislation aimed at curbing what the GOP views as an abuse of power by President Obama, who has said repeatedly in recent weeks that he plans to advance his agenda through executive action that does not require Congressional approval.
“Declaring that he has a ‘pen and a phone,’ he has acted to effectively rewrite the laws of the United States,” Cantor told fellow lawmakers in the memo. “The House will consider a number of bills the week of March 10th designed to restore the balance of power created by our Founders and require that the President faithfully execute our nation's law.”
There's no mention in the memo of immigration reform, an issue that deeply divides the GOP caucus and which House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said would be “difficult” to pass this year because of the Republicans' lack of trust in the president.
And Cantor told rank-and-file members in the memo that the GOP has yet to finalize a much-anticipated replacement plan for the health care law they hope someday to repeal.
He said the House could consider “in the near future” legislation that would address Obamacare’s individual mandate and cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage program.
In the meantime, Cantor said, the House plans to “highlight and address the serious consequences of the law,” including its impact on the 30-hour work week.
In March, Cantor said, the House will take up a measure that repeals the 30-hour threshold for full-time work as outlined in the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for employers to provide health care coverage. The legislation would raise the threshold to 40 hours.
The House will also take up legislation aimed at blocking new “excessive and unnecessary” Environmental Protection Agency regulations from impacting electric utility plants and coal plants, which Cantor said could lead to higher rates for consumers.
The majority leader said the House will also tackle job creation and economic growth via a package of bills “to protect jobs and wages from runaway Obama regulators.”
Those bills include the Regulatory Accountability Act, which would reform the way federal agencies formulate new regulations, and the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act, which would banish the federal government’s practice of settling lawsuits with liberal groups by imposing stricter and more expensive regulations on businesses.
Legislative activity will also center on “protecting the First Amendment and stopping government abuse,” and includes a bill sponsored by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., that would place a year-long hold on a new Internal Revenue Service regulation prohibiting 501(c)(4) groups -- which include many Tea Party organizations -- from engaging in voter registration, candidate debates and other political activity.
The memo reflects the legislative priorities chosen by House Republicans during their annual issues retreat held last month.
It also underscores the realities of legislating in an election year. The GOP's agenda is meant to win over voters who are frustrated with the Obama administration, the new health care law, the sluggish economy and the perception of government overreach.
“Our plan is to reduce the middle class squeeze, create an environment for economic growth and job creation, reform our health care system to one of patient centered care and lower costs, and ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to get ahead by accessing a quality education,” Cantor wrote to House GOP members.