House Speaker John Boehner says the long-awaited passage of three trade pacts Wednesday shows rebuilding America’s moribund economy can be a bipartisan process — if President Barack Obama takes time from re-election campaigning to sit down with members of Congress.
Boehner also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren despite the American Jobs Act failing in the Senate, when it comes to job-creation projects like improving the nation’s infrastructure, Congress and the Obama administration can work together.
“Well, the Senate rejected the president’s jobs bill on a bipartisan basis — and what they rejected was the idea that we ought to tax the very people that we expect to create jobs in America. If we’re really serious about creating jobs in our country, we’ve got to take real action,” Boehner said. “House Republicans had our plan for America’s job creators that we outlined back in May — we’ve been working on it all year — and frankly, what we’re trying to do is to find common ground with the administration.
“We’re taking a big step today: We’re passing the three free trade agreements that have been here for some time, sitting downtown — the president sent them up here nine days ago,” he said. “We’re taking action today in both the House and the Senate — free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea — a step in the right direction where we have agreement.
“I believe when it comes to things like infrastructure spending, there was a way for us to find common ground,” Boehner continued. “There are a number of other issues that we’re moving through the Congress where the president and Congress do, in fact, agree.”
Van Susteren noted that Obama has recently made several statements that indicate that maybe Congress and the administration are not on the same page, including in a speech to Latino leaders Wednesday, where he said congressmen needs to remember who employs them.
“Well, in our ‘Pledge to America’ that we outlined almost a year ago, on the eve of the last election, one of the commitments we made was to listen to the American people and to follow the lead of the American people. — and trust me, we’re continuing to listen to the American people,” Boehner said. “And the American people are telling us, here’s what you need to do: Stop the regulatory onslaught coming out of Washington — fix this tax code so that American companies can be more competitive in a worldwide economy — and then thirdly, stop the overspending that's serving as a wet blanket over our economy.
“So we’re working on the main planks of our plan to help job creators begin to create jobs — we’re looking for common ground with the president,” he said. “We’re up here legislating — we’re working — the president is out campaigning.
“Maybe he ought to sit down with Congress, members of both parties, to see if we can't find more common ground in which to achieve the goals that the American people sent us here to achieve,” Boehner said.
The House speaker conceded it had been several months since he has sat down with Obama to discuss bipartisan solutions to the nation’s economic crisis.
“We’ve had one conversation, I think, since Labor Day, but it’s been several months since we've had a real sit-down and a chance to talk about how we move the country forward together,” Boehner said, adding Obama might be too busy campaigning for re-election, but there is room for bipartisan compromise on job creation.
“I think when it comes to infrastructure spending — while we may not do it in an infrastructure bank, I do believe that we’ve got to find the funds to take care of our basic infrastructure around the country, whether it’s highways, rails,” he said. “There’s a big need there and we’ve been stuck on a highway bill between the administration and the Congress now for years — it needs to be resolved.”
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