House Majority Leader Eric Cantor unveiled a softer GOP domestic policy agenda for the next two years during a speech at the American Enterprise Institute Tuesday afternoon.
The Virginia congressman endorsed a path to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants, federal funding for health care research, and streamlined federal jobs training programs.
Cantor also attempted to put a human face on immigration reform. His speech was filled with references to audience members he invited to attend, including a father who fought for better education for his children in Washington, D.C., public schools, an engineering student from China who wants to work in the United States after graduation, and a young girl diagnosed with a brain tumor.
(Cantor Part I)
“It has gotten a lot tougher to raise a family here in America,” said Cantor. “Our goal should be to eliminate this doubt gripping our nation’s families and to restore their hope and confidence so that parents can once again see a better tomorrow for their children.”
The speech was light on policy specifics. However, Cantor did propose a “weighted student formula” that would create incentives for schools to enroll low-income students, abolishing taxes on medical devices in the federal health care reform law, and allowing hourly employees to convert previous overtime hours into future comp-time.
Much of Cantor’s speech focused on the need for immigration reform, which he linked to his own experience as the grandchild of Russian immigrants.
(Cantor part II)
“It’s no secret that there are more than 11 million people here illegally, many of whom have become part of the fabric of our country,” said Cantor. “They, like us, have families and dreams.”
“With little but her faith, thrift, and hope for a better tomorrow, my grandma worked seven days a week to ensure my dad and uncle could realize the promise of this great country,” said Cantor. “And today, my children and I stand as proof of the possibility to what may have seemed to her like an impossible dream.”
While President Barack Obama often portrays the House GOP as unwilling to work with him, Cantor said Republicans “remain committed to making those tough choices and stand ready to lead with this president.”
Cantor stressed this point in the context of the current immigration debate.
“There are some who would rather avoid fixing the problem in order to save this as a political issue,” he said. “I reject this notion and call on the president to help lead us towards a bipartisan solution rather than encourage the common political divisions of the past.”