House GOP urges unity, but unable to offer debt limit strategy


McClatchy Washington Bureau

House Republicans Saturday emerged from their three-day retreat preaching unity and cooperation with the White House, though the Republicans were apparently unable to agree on a debt limit strategy.

Three key GOP lawmakers gave the party's Saturday address, and kept up the theme of painting Republicans as the alternative party.

House Republicans met for three days this week in Cambridge, Md., at a resort 85 miles from Washington. They issued a statement of principles regarding immigration and a strategy for a health care alternative.

They discussed a strategy for dealing with the debt limit,which is expected to be reached later this month. But no consensus was announced, and a scheduled Friday press event was cancelled.

Saturday, the theme was harmony.

House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., cited areas of common ground with President Barack Obama.

"The president talked about supporting federally funded research to unleash more great discoveries.  We agree.  More must be done to prioritize the resources we have for the research we needm" said Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss.

He described legislation that would end public funding for political party conventions and instead fund pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health. 

Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., discussed The Working Families Flexibility Act, which she said "allows workers in the private sector the option of using their overtime toward paid time off –  or comp time – if that's what they'd rather have.  

"Government employees already have this option, so why not give private sector workers the same choices?"

Next came Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., who discussed jobs.

As someone who worked at a community college in job training, I know our economy has changed, but the way we train our workers has not," she said. "The SKILLS Act would consolidate the dozens of job training programs on the books and put the focus on programs that work. Programs that actually lead to jobs."

Upton then cited the The Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, which he said "cuts red tape to ensure that pipelines can be built. It connects natural gas supplies with new manufacturing plants.  And it is another step towards a real all-of-the-above energy policy."


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