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New Panel Relationships to Be Tested

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At the time, Reyes blasted Hoekstra’s push for the document disclosure as “the height of irresponsibility.”

Some chairmen and ranking members simply fail to connect, while others end up having a more caustic relationship that proves to be both distracting and unproductive.

Former Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) and Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), then the ranking member, had a famously dysfunctional relationship. Their dislike for one another came to a head when Thomas called Capitol Police to evict Rangel and other committee Democrats from a committee room during a debate over pension reform legislation.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the likely chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, went through a similar frosty period with Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) in 2009, when Democrats had the locks changed on the committee’s room and refused to give their GOP colleagues keys.

But despite a few minor rifts, Issa said he and Towns have maintained a good working relationship.

“I think it’s desirable to have a good working relationship with your counterpart,” he said. “We’ve had a good chairman-ranking member working relationship — one in which it’s been tough but fair.”

Rep. Lamar Smith said the key to having a personal relationship is maintaining respect for the individual, no matter how partisan the debates.

 The Texas Republican, the presumptive chairman of the Judiciary Committee who will work alongside Rep. John Conyers, said he and the Michigan Democrat have had an “unwritten rule” that has kept their personal relationship intact.

“We never mention the other person by name in a press release. That goes a long way to eliminating the boiling water,” Smith said.

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