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Analysis: Cantor's Week In Congress A Mixed Bag

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David Hawkings, CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

Virginia Rep. and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) shepherded his tax cut for small businesses through the House yesterday. If it were to pass in the Senate, it would give small business a 20 percent tax cut for one year, but the bill is already facing a White House veto and opposition in the Senate.

David Hawkings, editor-in-chief of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, talks with WAMU Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey about the bill's prospects and other things keeping Cantor in the news this week. Here are some highlights: 

On the chances of the Small Business Tax Cut Act becoming law: "It's a significant victory not because it's going to become law — because there's absolutely no chance that this bill will become law  any more than the Democratic idea of imposing the Buffett rule, which got a test vote in the Senate earlier this week, is going to become law," Hawkings says. 

How significant a victory was this for Cantor: "The point was to do something legislatively that would allow each side to position for the fall," Hawkings says. "So in that sense Eric Cantor got just what he wanted. He got the house to approve, mostly along party lines, a bill —  they call it a small business bill, but in fact it would have given this tax break to 98 percent of the nation's businesses, because … 98 percent of our businesses in this country employee 500 or fewer people. This is something he can now get himself and all the other Republicans to go out and campaign on this fall and rally their business-friendly base."

Why Cantor was willing to cross the aisle on the bill to clear the way for the Export Import bank to continue doing business: "Eric Cantor is sort of testing the limits of the loyalty he has from conservative Republicans. Conservative Republicans think the Export/Import Bank, which essentially provides loans to promote exports by American businesses, is more big government that we don't need," Hawkings says. "But the American business community disagrees. It's a rare instance of Cantor siding between his two biggest loyal bases, the conservative Tea Party guys in his house caucus, and the business community.

On the revelation that the House Majority leader donated $25,000 to a super PAC: "Eric Cantor, obviously as the majority leader, is supposed to make sure there are as many Republicans in the House as possible, and he gave to something for the Campaign for Primary Accountability, a super-PAC out to defeat entrenched incumbents," Hawking says. "Cantor says he gave the money explicitly so the PAC could defeat a guy named Don Manzullo in Illinois. The Campaign says that wasn't true, that it was for everybody."

Whether there has been backlash from this donation: "I would say had this story broken when Congress was in town — it actually broke while they were in recess — Eric Cantor would have been in a lot more hot water. This was not a smart move for a Congressional leader. He says it's an isolated incident, that he was taking sides in this one race, but they're going to be watching him very carefully from here on out. 

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