House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sent the memo to fellow
Republicans as they returned from a two-week recess, employing a
regular tool to help keep the party unified on its political message
in the run-up to congressional elections in November.
Republicans have put criticisms of Obama's healthcare reform law at
the center of their efforts to wrest control of the Senate from
Democrats and to boost their majority in the House.
Cantor said House Republicans would work to "reform our healthcare
system by replacing Obamacare with policies that improve patient
choice, access to doctors and hospitals and lower costs."
The memo also said the Republican-controlled House would pass
permanent extensions of six temporary business tax breaks, including
a credit for research and development activities. The House Ways and
Means Committee on Tuesday approved the provisions, which would not
be offset by other budget savings, adding $378 billion to U.S.
deficits over the next decade.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner has sent mixed signals in
recent days on whether he wants the House to tackle immigration
reform. Last week, he used a mocking tone to describe how some of
his Republican colleagues have an aversion to immigration reform.
"Oh, don't make me do this. Oh, this is too hard," Boehner said in a
whining voice to a business luncheon in Middletown, Ohio, adding
that some Republicans would prefer to "take the path of least
resistance" and avoid the issue.
But Boehner, who has long called on lawmakers to press ahead with
Republican immigration priorities such as improved border security,
appeared to backtrack somewhat on Tuesday, saying that members
misunderstood his "teasing" remarks.
Republican lawmakers said Boehner told them behind closed doors that
the House would not take up last year's sweeping Senate-passed
immigration reform bill, which would include a path to citizenship
for certain undocumented immigrants.
Boehner and other Republican leaders have talked of possibly working
on immigration reform through more narrowly focused bills.
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Some immigration reform advocates say there is a very short window
for passing any bills this year. If Congress doesn't vote on
anything before the traditional August recess, the issue will become
too politically charged ahead of the November 4 elections.
During that same time-frame, Congress also will likely need to pass
an extension of transportation funding, because funding will likely
be depleted by late August, according to the Department of
Transportation. Some political analysts view the transportation bill
as one of the few "must-pass" measures this year, but it also was
absent from Cantor's agenda memo.
On Tuesday, the Obama administration sent Congress a request for
$302 billion over four years to spend on roads, bridges and transit
systems. Republicans are likely to object to Obama's proposal to pay
for some of the funding with revenues from closing some tax breaks
as fuel tax revenue declines.
Cantor said that Republicans in May also would pursue passage of
normal appropriations bills and consider a resolution holding Lois
Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service's former director of tax exempt
organizations, in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer
questions regarding the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS.
He said Lerner "played a central role in the illegal targeting of
conservative groups by the IRS."
"The House will consider the Contempt of Congress resolution in May
unless she agrees to testify before the Oversight Committee," Cantor
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan;
editing by Caren Bohan and
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