Eric Cantor: Paul Ryan, not Michele Bachmann, delivering official GOP State of the Union response
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Monday emphasized that the official Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday will be delivered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), not Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).
Ryan, the new chairman of the House Budget Committee, was tapped by congressional GOP leaders last Friday to give the party's official response to the president's annual agenda-setting address. But Bachmann, who is mulling a bid for national office, plans to give her own unofficial rebuttal, which will be aired online by the Tea Party Express.
"Paul Ryan's giving the official Republican response," Cantor told reporters Monday at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing. "And Michele Bachmann, just as the other 534 members of the House and Senate, are going to have opinions as to the State of the Union. Again, this is a process that happens every year, and I look forward to all comments, but it's Paul Ryan that's giving the official Republican [response]."
Asked why the responses of the other 534 members of Congress aren't receiving the same amount of attention as Bachmann's planned address, Cantor quipped: "Then maybe I should ask, why is that the case?"
Amid calls for greater cooperation among members of both parties in the wake of this month's mass shooting in Tucson, Cantor noted that he and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) are planning to have lunch together tomorrow at Hoyer's invitation and said that the two may sit together during tomorrow night's address. A Hoyer aide said that seating arrangements are still being worked out and that nothing is final.
"Maybe the sitting thing is a first step," Cantor said of the bipartisan seating plan that has been gaining traction among lawmakers. "But there's a lot of things that we can do to try and foster a more productive Congress.
Cantor then followed up his praise of Hoyer with a jab at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
"I would love to have the opportunity for her to engage in some kind of working relationship so we can actually deliver results," Cantor said of Pelosi. "But thus far, it seems that she is continuing to drive an ideological agenda, just the same as she did over the last four years."
Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill said that Pelosi remains committed to working across the aisle, noting that she has held several meetings with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
"It's important to set the record straight," Hammill said. "The fact is that Leader Pelosi has met with Speaker Boehner on numerous occasions, both as speaker and since he became speaker, and offered to hold regular meetings. Democrats remain committed to working with Republicans to create jobs, strengthen the middle class and reduce the deficit."
| January 24, 2011; 4:47 PM ET
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