House to Vote on Contractor Withholding Tax, Cantor Says

The House will vote this month on repeal of a 3 percent withholding tax on U.S. government contracts as Republicans seek “areas of commonality” with President Obama on ways to jump-start the economy, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said.

The law, written to prevent tax cheating by government contractors, is scheduled to take effect in 2013. It requires the federal government, state governments and many large local governments to withhold 3 percent of contracts. Cantor said “you will see as the bill comes forward” how the repeal would make up the lost revenue.

Repealing the contractor withholding requirement will get a House vote along with legislation to ratify trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, Cantor, a Virginia Republican, told reporters. The House will also vote on a repeal of “onerous regulations” that Obama “has mentioned himself” as hurting small businesses, Cantor said.

These measures, plus another to expand access of small business to capital, “represent areas of commonality” between Republicans and Obama, Cantor said.

“Washington has become so dysfunctional that we’ve got to start focusing on the incremental progress that we can make” to improve job growth, he said.

Drop Demand

Cantor also called on Obama to stop “targeting House Republicans with campaign-style tactics,” and drop his “all-or-nothing” demand that Congress pass his $447 billion jobs package. Cantor termed the package, proposed by Obama last month, “unreasonable” and politically “infeasible.”

“No productivity can come from focusing on the divide” between the two parties’ different prescriptions for the ailing economy, he said.

“From a purely practical standpoint, the president has got some whipping to do on his own side of the aisle,” because some House and Senate Democrats have withheld their support for his jobs package, Cantor said.

Obama said today he plans a renewed push among congressional leaders to get votes on his jobs package.

“Pass it,” Obama said during a Cabinet meeting today at the White House. “Get it to my desk.”

Major aspects of the plan include cutting the payroll withholding tax, hiring incentives for small businesses and spending to keep teachers employed and repair roads and bridges.

Possible Vote

Cantor didn’t rule out House consideration of the provision in the president’s plan to reduce payroll withholding taxes, saying that while such a move may not be “the most generative” for job-creation, “ certainly it’s part of the discussion.”

He said he wants to know the Obama administration’s views before scheduling a vote on proposed legislation to let U.S. companies seek duties on imports from China to compensate for the weak yuan. Cantor says he is concerned about the “unintended consequences of a move like that on our economy.”

The Senate plans to debate China currency legislation this week.

The Senate also will act this month on proposed trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, said Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat.

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