| WASHINGTON, April 30
WASHINGTON, April 30 A memo outlining the
legislative agenda for Republicans in the House of
Representatives lists replacement of President Barack Obama's
healthcare law as a priority for the coming weeks but does not
mention plans to tackle immigration reform.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sent the memo to fellow
Republicans as they returned from a two-week recess, employing a
regular tool to help keep the party unified on its political
message in the run-up to congressional elections in November.
Republicans have put criticisms of Obama's healthcare reform
law at the center of their efforts to wrest control of the
Senate from Democrats and to boost their majority in the House.
Cantor said House Republicans would work to "reform our
healthcare system by replacing Obamacare with policies that
improve patient choice, access to doctors and hospitals and
The memo also said the Republican-controlled House would
pass permanent extensions of six temporary business tax breaks,
including a credit for research and development activities. The
House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday approved the
provisions, which would not be offset by other budget savings,
adding $378 billion to U.S. deficits over the next decade.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner has sent mixed signals
in recent days on whether he wants the House to tackle
immigration reform. Last week, he used a mocking tone to
describe how some of his Republican colleagues have an aversion
to immigration reform.
"Oh, don't make me do this. Oh, this is too hard," Boehner
said in a whining voice to a business luncheon in Middletown,
Ohio, adding that some Republicans would prefer to "take the
path of least resistance" and avoid the issue.
But Boehner, who has long called on lawmakers to press ahead
with Republican immigration priorities such as improved border
security, appeared to backtrack somewhat on Tuesday, saying that
members misunderstood his "teasing" remarks.
Republican lawmakers said Boehner told them behind closed
doors that the House would not take up last year's sweeping
Senate-passed immigration reform bill, which would include a
path to citizenship for certain undocumented
Boehner and other Republican leaders have talked of possibly
working on immigration reform through more narrowly focused
Some immigration reform advocates say there is a very short
window for passing any bills this year. If Congress doesn't vote
on anything before the traditional August recess, the issue will
become too politically charged ahead of the Nov. 4 elections.
During that same time-frame, Congress also will likely need
to pass an extension of transportation funding, because funding
will likely be depleted by late August, according to the
Department of Transportation. Some political analysts view the
transportation bill as one of the few "must-pass" measures this
year, but it also was absent from Cantor's agenda memo.
On Tuesday, the Obama administration sent Congress a request
for $302 billion over four years to spend on roads, bridges and
transit systems. Republicans are likely to object to Obama's
proposal to pay for some of the funding with revenues from
closing some tax breaks as fuel tax revenue declines.
Cantor said that Republicans in May also would pursue
passage of normal appropriations bills and consider a resolution
holding Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service's former
director of tax exempt organizations, in contempt of Congress
for refusing to answer questions regarding the targeting of
conservative groups by the IRS. He said Lerner "played a central
role in the illegal targeting of conservative groups by the
"The House will consider the Contempt of Congress resolution
in May unless she agrees to testify before the Oversight
Committee," Cantor said.
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Caren Bohan
and Leslie Adler)