House GOP has plan to pressure White House on scandals

July 9, 2013
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). AP
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). AP

House Republicans are planning to push a series of bills designed to keep pressure on the White House over government scandals that burst open this spring, particularly the IRS targeting of conservative political groups for vigorous oversight.

During Tuesday's weekly Republican Conference meeting, Majority Leader Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.) outlined a collection of bills that GOP leaders expect to advance in the final week of the summer legislative session late this month. Additionally, leaders slammed the administration’s decision to delay implementation of the so-called employer mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act that was pushed back to 2015. The delay benefits large businesses, but leaves individuals and small businesses to begin key portions of the new law.

Taken together, the moves are an effort by Republicans to position their caucus on the side of small business while being against big government. "The public feels a growing sense of distrust of what this administration and what Washington is doing,” Cantor told reporters after the hourlong meeting in a Capitol basement conference room.

He accused the administration of “coming down on the side of big business” with its delay of the mandate that large employers provide insurance for workers.

A month ago Washington was consumed by the IRS scandal, the Justice Department’s aggressive techniques in pursuing leak investigations and questions about the State Department’s handling of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. The White House and Democrats accused GOP investigators of over reach in their pursuit of President Obama and his aides, highlighting that liberal groups also faced aggressive IRS scrutiny and pointing to mistakes in the probe related to the attack on the Benghazi consulate.

Then immigration legislation consumed both sides of the Capitol over the last month, leading those scandals to fade from the spotlight.

GOP leaders have several bills that they expect to push to try to refocus voters on what they consider government abuse. For late July and early August, Cantor has laid out a week of government “distrust” legislation, according to a senior aide.

One measure would allow citizens to record conversations between themselves and federal enforcement officials, while another would let federal agencies place senior career officials on leave with or without pay when they are under investigation for serious abuses. Several measures would rein in an agency’s ability to implement regulations, and another would prohibit the IRS’s role in implementing the health-care law.

Paul Kane covers Congress and politics for the Washington Post.
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