Cantor to Reid: ‘The Speaker and I Have Consistently Been on the Same Page’

By Nicholas Ballasy | July 14, 2011 | 6:55 PM EDT

( – In response to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) claiming that he should not be at the debt limit negotiation table, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said both he and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have “consistently been on the same page.”

“The Speaker and I have consistently been on the same page and it’s just as he laid out in terms of the principles that we are operating under, that our confidence is fully behind,” said Cantor at a press conference on Thursday. “We’re not going to raise the debt ceiling if we don’t have cuts in excess of that amount, that we don’t want to raise taxes, and that we want to structurally change this system so that we stop this from happening again.”

By “changing the system,” Cantor was referring to House Republicans’ support for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution as part of a deal to raise the debt limit.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Senate Majority Leader Reid has called Cantor “childish” and said he has “shown he shouldn't be at the table and Republicans agree.”

Cantor said, “Leader Reid is, I imagine, frustrated as we all are and the fact is we are going to abide by our principles; that’s how it is and I’m sure the Speaker joins me in that.”

Speaker Boehner then joined Cantor at the podium and directly addressed the House Majority Leader’s critics.

“We have been in this fight together and any suggestion that the role Eric has played in this meeting has been anything less than helpful is just wrong,” said Speaker Boehner.

“Listen, we’re in a foxhole and I’m going to tell you what – this is not easy because what we’re trying to do is solve a problem that has eluded Washington for decades,” said Boehner.  “I’m glad Eric’s there and those who have other opinions, they can keep them to themselves.”

The debt limit is the amount of money the federal government can legally borrow.  The current limit, which was reached on May 16, is $14.29 trillion.  Negotiations have been ongoing to reach a deal on raising the limit by $2.4 trillion.

Republicans have said that budget cuts should exceed any amount of increase in the debt limit and Democrats have said spending cuts must be coupled with tax increases.  The White House has proposed $400 billion in tax increases, a step the Republicans have rejected, noting the sluggish economy and 9.2 percent unemployment rate.