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Schumer to GOP: Follow Cantor

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) attends funeral services for former New York City Mayor Ed Koch at Manhattan's Temple Emanu-El on February 4, 2013 in New York City.The iconic former New York mayor passed away on February 1, 2013 in New York City at age 88. Ed Koch was New York's 105th mayor and ran the city from 1978-89. He was often outspoken and combative and has been credited with rescuing the city from near-financial ruin during a three-term City Hall run. Former Governor Mario Cuomo is at left. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)  says Republicans should listen to Eric Cantor. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's attempt to rebrand the Republican Party has earned some praise from a top Democrat. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that Democrats agreed with Cantor's diagnosis of the country's ills and urged the party to "adapt their agenda to match Leader Cantor's words."

In his speech Tuesday, entitled "Make Life Work," Cantor (R-Va.) promised that House Republicans would focus in the next two years on making life better for the middle class. 

"The first step towards finding common ground is agreeing on the problem you are trying to solve. Even though we might have different policy prescriptions than Leader Cantor, Democrats agree with the diagnosis that the shrinking middle class and the accessibility of the American dream are our most pressing challenges," Schumer said. "If House Republicans can adapt their agenda to match Leader Cantor's words, this Congress could surprise people with how productive it can be."

In his speech, Cantor embraced tenets of the Dream Act and namechecked bipartisan education legislation. He called for repealing some of Obamacare -- not all of it. But liberals are skeptical that Cantor's moderate tone will lead to any significant legislative compromise. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Emily Bittner called the speech "more of the same out-of-touch Tea Party agenda,”

Both Cantor and Schumer are known as aggressive partisans. But Schumer, who for years bemoaned President Obama's attempts at bipartisan compromise, has started reaching across the aisle in the new Congress. Cantor, meanwhile, has softened his tone and lowered his profile after getting burned in the 2011 debt-ceiling showdown.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.



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