Democrats, who for days have criticized the top two House Republicans for leading overseas trips instead of working to extend the expiring payroll cuts, have upped the ante with a new website: www.WhereInTheWorldIsJohnBoehner.com.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee site depicts a fake postcard of House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio playing golf, and another showing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia in front of Paris’ Eiffel Tower wearing a beret, which appears to be airbrushed.
Mr. Boehner is leading a seven-member congressional delegation this week to Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. The group is meeting with senior government officials in the countries to discuss trade, energy and economic security issues.
Mr. Cantor, meanwhile, is with a congressional delegation visiting France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The primary purpose of the meetings has been to discuss “the ongoing threat the world community faces from Iran, and the best way to confront this urgent challenge,” Mr. Cantor’s office said.
The website, which accuses the pair of being on “vacation,” mockingly asks them to “get back to work and stop the middle class tax increase.” The House is on winter break and returns Tuesday.
Republicans contend the Democratic accusations are ridiculous because the delegations are official congressional trips — not vacations.
“Frankly, the House Democrats are a little disconnected from reality on this issue,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.
“The House has passed a year-long [payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance extension] bill with jobs provisions and spending cuts that have bipartisan support. We expect we can come to agreement with the Senate to finish our work, and bipartisan, bicameral discussions are already under way.”
And Mr. Cantor says his trip has national security importance.
“It is clear from our discussions in Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that we all strongly share concerns about the threat posed by Iran, as well as the strategic goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons capability,” said Mr. Cantor in a prepared statement released by his office Thursday. “
Neither Mr. Boehner nor Mr. Cantor is a part of a bipartisan conference committee established to hammer out a deal to extend the payroll tax break, which expires at the end of February.
On Wednesday, staffers of Mr. Camp, a Michigan Republican, and Sen. Finance Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat — both members of the conference committee — meet to prepare data and preliminary reports for the conferees.
“The work is ongoing and will continue so that members have the materials and information they need for productive discussions at the member level,” said Camp spokeswomen Michelle Dimarob.