House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Mayor Bill de Blasio traded sharp words Wednesday over charter schools. Washington bureau reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report for NY1.
Mayor Bill de Blasio isn't running for Congress, but House Republican leaders are signaling that they're going to use the new mayor as a symbol of what's wrong with Democrats.
In a speech Wednesday afternoon, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor ripped into de Blasio's education plans.
Specifically, he took aim at the new mayor's proposals to charge rent to wealthy charter schools and place a moratorium on the practice of putting charter schools in the same buildings as traditional public schools.
"How many families are going to be harmed? How many families are going to have their choice taken away if Mayor de Blasio pursues his policies?" Cantor said.
Cantor warned that if de Blasio goes forward with his plans, the House may hold hearings.
"We're going to remain vigilant at attempts to try and thwart the growth in public school choice," Cantor said.
De Blasio quickly fired back, claiming that his proposal is similar to what other cities are already doing.
"I don't typically look for education advice from Eric Cantor," he said. "I want to emphasize, and I hope Mr. Cantor looks at these facts, you look all over the country, the norm is to charge rent when school space is made available for outside organizations."
This Cantor/de Blasio spat may be just the beginning. Don't be surprised if Republicans continue use the new mayor as the liberal bogeyman in this year's midterm elections.
Grover "Russ" Whitehurst, a charter school supporter from the Brookings Institution, believes that on education, at least, Democrats in other places may be worried about being tied to the de Blasio agenda.
"I think there are a lot of Democrats who are very nervous about the de Blasio position but, for understandable reasons, they're being quiet about it," Whitehurst said.
That could change, depending on whether the GOP's attacks gain traction.