OAK RIDGE - House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., called upon President Obama on Thursday to end the Washington gridlock and adopt "common sense measures" to open up new energy sources and make needed entitlement reforms.
During his first visit to the Department of Energy facilities here, Cantor praised the military and research work in Oak Ridge and said federal support for research and development needs to continue. But Cantor and other Republican members of Congress stressed here this week that funding such R&D will require Congress to get control of unfunded mandates and entitlement programs that are eating up a growing share of the federal budget.
"The job of Washington is to encourage innovation, not to allow gridlock to stand in the way of the kind of America that you envision here through your work," Cantor told employees at the Y12 facility. "We deeply believe it is appropriate and desirable for federal policy to serve as a catalyst for the research, science and discovery that goes on here."
Despite Republican House members' efforts to limit the federal budget deficit, the GOP House leader urged Oak Ridge workers "to keep it up."
"Your continued success of this facility is not only possible, it is inevitable," he said of the more than $3 billion a year of federally funded projects at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge reservation.
But to help promote the economic growth and funding to support such government programs, Cantor urged the Obama administration to go along with new GOP initiatives he said would reform and sustain entitlement programs like Social Security, energy projects like the Keystone pipeline and job training consolidation to streamline the 50 different federal programs that now are focused on job training.
Cantor said the Keystone XL pipeline proposed to the federal government by a Canadian company would bring hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil from Alberta, Canada, into the U.S. every day and help make the United States more energy independent.
"When you look at the political extremism that is raging in the Middle East, we cannot in good conscience rely upon that region for our energy supplies," he said.
Cantor said the Republican-controlled House has approved measures to allow the Keystone pipeline to be permitted, revamped federal job training approaches and reformed reform Social Security to make it viable for the long term.
"We need the administration now to act," he said.
Cantor was invited to Oak Ridge by U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., who represents Oak Ridge and who hosted the Tennessee Valley Corridor Summit Wednesday and Thursday.
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com.