House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). (Joshua Roberts/BLOOMBERG)

The JOBS Act is not new legislation but is instead a grab bag of items that have already passed at the committee level or on the House floor by wide bipartisan votes. The package, introduced by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), would tweak or update various Securities and Exchange Commission regulations that in some cases haven’t been updated since the 1960s. Republicans believe the changes would make it easier for small businesses to launch initial public offerings and solicit new investors.

“Today, the White House has said we need to get started jump-starting our business startups,” Cantor said at an afternoon news conference attended by GOP leadership and small business owners. “And that is exactly what the bill does.”

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) noted that he launched his first company at age 20, but that, “in today’s environment, I don’t know if I could start it.”

Responding the McCarthy’s comment, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) added, “If we’re serious about growing our economy and creating opportunities for our citizens, making sure that we eliminate that red tape and have access to capital is critically important.”

For the past few months, Boehner has carried in his coat pocket a list of the several dozen bills that, he says, would create jobs but have died in the Senate after winning House approval. Tuesday’s calculus was an effort to slim down the package into just those measures that have been favored by both parties, forcing Senate Democrats to either approve a GOP-drafted bill or block a plan that has broad support.

This comes after months of internal debate among House Republicans about how to pivot their legislative agenda away from last year’s focus on spending cuts and debt reduction toward job creation. Polls continue to show that voters’ highest priority is economic recovery.

The White House, after painting Cantor as the “face of obstruction” last fall, did not dismiss the new proposal Tuesday, signaling that Obama would consider the legislation if House Republicans would include some of his own leftover proposals from the American Jobs Act. That legislation, introduced in September, was largely cast aside by House Republicans, and Obama won only the extensions of the payroll tax holiday and unemployment insurance.

White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said in a statement, “The President is encouraged to see that there is common ground between his approach and what Congressman Cantor outlined today, and we urge members of both parties in the House and Senate to come together on these provisions and do what the President called for in the State of the Union Address: send him a bill without delay.”

In a message to reporters, the office of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) dismissed the proposal as simply a repackaging of previously approved bills and called on Republicans “to get serious about job creation and put forward a comprehensive plan to help put Americans back to work.”

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

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