WASHINGTON - Top House GOP leaders assured attendees at the 2011 Values Voter Summit Friday morning that despite all the attention on fixing the nation's economy, they remain committed to pushing the priorities of social conservatives, including defunding Planned Parenthood and defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) addressed the gathering of religious conservatives in Washington, D.C., where several of the GOP presidential candidates will also be speaking.
Cantor used part of his address to attack the Occupy Wall Street protests, and he condemned political leaders who are supporting them.
"This administration's failed policies have resulted in an assault on many of our nation's bedrock principles," he said. "If you read the newspapers today, I, for one, am increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and the other cities across the country. And believe it or not, some in this town, have actually condoned the pitting of Americans against Americans. But you sent us here to fight for you and all Americans."
But when he spoke at the Values Voter Summit in 2009, Cantor expressed a very different sentiment toward another movement that was arguably "pitting Americans against Americans" -- the Tea Party.
At that time, Cantor praised those protesters as "fighting on the fighting lines of what we know is a battle for our democracy.”
"People are beginning to wake up and see a country they don’t really recognize," said Cantor.
At the Washington Ideas Forum on Thursday, Vice President Biden discussed the parallels between the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movement.
"The core is the American people do not think the system is fair or on the level. That is the core of what you're seeing on Wall Street," he said. "There's a lot in common with the Tea Party. The Tea Party started why? TARP. They thought it was unfair, we're bailing out the big guys. What are the people up on the other side of the spectrum saying? The same thing."
In his speech Friday, Cantor also promised the crowd that if Republicans win back the Senate and White House -- and retain control of the House -- in 2012, they will defund Planned Parenthood.
"I can tell you: After November 2012, we look forward to a Senate and a White House that will partner with us to once and for all eliminate government funding for all organizations that perform abortions," said Cantor to loud applause.
Boehner spoke about the House GOP's decision to defend DOMA, which recognizes marriage on the federal level as being between one man and one woman, after Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department would no longer defend the law in federal court.
"If the Justice Department was not going to defend this act passed by Congress, then we will," he said. "We're not only going to defend the law that Congress passed, but we're going to take the money away from the Justice Department that's supposed to [defend the law]."
Defending DOMA will not be cheap. A contract between the House and the private law firm hired to defend the law said that taxpayers will have to fork over $1.5 million. Boehner has not said where the money will come from; while he has consistently insisted he wants the Justice Department to foot the bill, the agency has given no indication it is planning to comply with that request.