Republicans Answer Obama’s Call With Bills He’ll Veto

Congressional Republicans answered President Barack Obama’s call in his State of the Union address to work together, proposing action on four measures including two he’s already threatened to veto.

“In each area, a House-passed bill is already sitting in the Senate so there is no reason for further delay,” Republican leaders wrote in a joint letter to Obama today. “We haven’t given up on working with you to find areas of common agreement where we can do good things for the American people.”

The party proposed that Obama consider bills passed by the House to provide flex time to working parents, divert taxpayer funds currently used for political conventions, provide job training and allow natural gas pipelines. Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers signed the letter.

House Republicans are meeting in Maryland, the second day in their three-day retreat. They’re are planning to decide their strategy on other issues, including immigration and raising the U.S. debt limit.

The White House is unlikely to see much “common agreement” in the Republican proposal, having already issued veto threats for the flex time and natural gas bills. The administration has said it strongly opposed the skills training bill, saying the measure wouldn’t sufficiently target federal resources to “vulnerable populations” like veterans and people with disabilities.

Political Split

The difference shows the partisan split between Republican House and Democrat Obama. In many instances, they agree on the problems facing America. Republicans and Democrats raise the same issues in speeches, yet are often far apart on solutions.

Obama in his address Jan. 28 said “let’s make this a year of action.” He outlined several initiatives that he said he would take through Executive Orders.

The Republican leaders in their letter to Obama said that under the U.S. Constitution “most action requires the Congress and the president to work together.”

The White House has said the president would veto the flex pay bill if it comes to the president’s desk, saying the plan is “misrepresenting itself as a workplace flexibility measure.”

The bill “would not prevent employers from cutting the overtime hours and reducing the take-home pay of employees who currently have the right to overtime compensation,” the White House Office of Management and Budget wrote in a statement of administration policy May 6. “The legislation does not provide sufficient protections for employees who may not want to receive compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay.”

Flex Time

House Republican leaders said today they want to meet with Obama to iron out differences on the House-passed bill they say would provide flex time to working parents who may prefer to work overtime hours now to accrue time off that could be used for school meetings or doctor’s visits.

The other rejections were similarly blunt. The White House threatened a veto of the natural gas bill saying reviews couldn’t be finished within its “rigid, unworkable time frames.”

A job training bill was “strongly” opposed because the White House said it wouldn’t help vulnerable populations, like veterans and people with disabilities.

Republicans also proposed acting on a measure that would divert taxpayer funds used for political conventions to pediatric research. It didn’t draw a formal statement of administration policy.

While some Democrats have said it would be a good idea, Democrats opposed it 72-102 when the House passed it in December.

To contact the reporter on this story: Derek Wallbank in Washington at dwallbank@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net

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