Pelosi Challenges Boehner to Cancel Recess, Pound Out a Transpo Bill

All play and no work makes Jack an unemployed construction worker.

That, more or less, was Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s message to Speaker John Boehner today. She called on him to cancel next week’s recess and work on passing a transportation bill, now struggling through a divisive conference process.

“Almost three months after Senate passage [of the bill, 74-22], Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) want to go on vacation rather than act on bipartisan legislation that affects more than two million jobs, including over 55,000 jobs in Ohio and almost 40,000 jobs in Virginia,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Note that the Senate has enjoyed its share of “vacation” this year as well, including just last week, when it was out for Memorial Day recess.

Pelosi’s office offered this handy chart as a visual motivation for the House leaders. It shows the cratering of construction sector employment. The sector’s unemployment rate now stands at 14.2 percent, the highest of any industry.

Source: Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

Despite Pelosi’s focus on Boehner, Democratic leaders in the Senate, from Harry Reid on down, have been blaming Majority Leader Eric Cantor — not Boehner — for the lack of progress.

“You have heard, as I have heard, that there’s a battle going on between Cantor and [Speaker John] Boehner as to whether or not there should be a bill,” Reid told reporters yesterday. “I’m told by others that [Cantor] wants to not do a bill to make the economy worse, because he feels that’s better for them. I hope that that’s not true.”

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), a transportation bill conferee, echoed this sentiment minutes later, in an interview with Politico. “They say they want a bill, that the House wants a bill,” he said. “Boehner does; I don’t think Cantor does.”

Both Boehner and Cantor’s spokespeople have dismissed these allegations as “ridiculous” (and worse).