He’s pushing in particular for a tax reform package that would simplify the tax code, reduce rates and shrink deductions. “And I’m hopeful that members of both parties will come together to do that,” Hoyer said. “I certainly intend to work with Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor and Mr. McCarthy, all of whom I’ve talked to about this effort.”
Boehner said he has a good relationship with Hoyer.
“We’ve worked on a lot of things over the years,” Boehner said Tuesday. But the Ohio Republican declined to offer specifics.
“He wouldn’t want you to know, I wouldn’t want you to know, we wouldn’t want anyone else to know,” Boehner said jokingly of the work they had done together.
Sources described Boehner and Hoyer’s relationship as cordial and respectful, but they said the two are not personal friends. And while it is likely that House Republicans will communicate regularly with Hoyer on the schedule and institutional matters, Democrats don’t expect the new majority to do much negotiating with him — or any other Democrat — on legislation.
“Hoyer and Boehner don’t have much history of working closely on specific things,” one Hoyer ally said. “They will be communicating on procedural and institutional matters, schedule-type issues — things the American people will never see and likely not care about.”
Hoyer and Cantor’s relationship appears to have improved in recent months. The two lawmakers had been known to spar on the House floor during the weekly colloquies on the schedule; the exchanges often turned testy when the otherwise banal discussion of the agenda turned partisan.
“Leader Hoyer is well-respected within the Republican Conference as an effective leader and a tough but fair adversary, and though he and Eric have legitimate policy disagreements, they share a mutual respect and a solid working relationship,” Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring said. “Eric enjoyed the good-natured spirit of the colloquy and looks forward to continuing the relationship in the 112th Congress.”
Many Republicans had privately said they would have preferred Hoyer as the top Democrat in the 112th Congress over outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, believing he is a more pragmatic player than the California Democrat. But Pelosi chose to stand as Minority Leader next year, leaving Hoyer with the No. 2 position.
A Democratic lobbyist said it won’t take long for Hoyer to ingratiate himself with Republicans, regardless of his position.
“He’s perfectly capable of building it,” this Democratic lobbyist said. “That’s who they want, that’s who they trust. They trust him because he’s a straight shooter.”