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Congress: That empathy thing


House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) tours earthquake damage with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) in Mineral, VA.

“House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Wednesday that he intends to look for offsets if federal aid is needed to help areas of his Virginia district that were damaged in an earthquake Tuesday,” Roll Call writes. But he said thinks any aid should be offset by spending cuts elsewhere.

And Cantor said this: “All of us know that the federal government is busy spending money it doesn’t have,” Cantor said in Culpeper, where the quake damaged some buildings along a busy shopping thoroughfare.

(In the immediate aftermath of an emergency is this the kind of thing people want to hear?)

“House Republican lawmakers worry the sputtering economy will be a problem not only for President Obama but could sweep them out of office next year as well,” The Hill writes.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), the co-chairs of the newly formed "supercommittee" on deficit reduction, issued their first joint statement yesterday afternoon, NBC’s Libby Leist reports. Murray and Hensarling have been working together through the Congressional recess to stand up the committee basically from scratch. They're working on rules that will govern the committee, staffing decisions and meeting schedules, the statement says. In addition, the 12 committee members have their homework of reading through past deficit reduction proposals.  One Republican aide tells NBC members are looking at the Bowles-Simpson commission report, the Domenici-Rivlin plan, the so-called "Biden talks" and the Gang of six work among others. A Democratic aide says that previous commission work will play "a significant role and will inform thinking heavily" as the members get started.

Former Sen. Bill Frist predicted that the health-care law would not be repealed. "It's going to survive. It's not going to be repealed,” he told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, per Political Wire.