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Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said that Boehner’s and McConnell’s communications, policy and floor operations are in constant contact to “ensure that things move as smoothly as possible on both sides of the Capitol Dome.”
“In the weeks and months ahead, we are going to have a heck of a fight with Washington Democrats who are addicted to more wasteful ‘stimulus’ spending,” Steel said in a statement. “House and Senate Republicans will stand shoulder to shoulder with each other, and with the American people, in favor of cutting spending to help create jobs.”
The two leaders meet face to face every other week, but their aides meet every Friday in Boehner’s office.
The sessions largely focus on the week ahead, but aides also try to identify upcoming, political trouble spots, according to one senior Senate Republican leadership aide who attends.
“They each understand the other has a responsibility to reflect the concerns and viewpoints of his own caucus,” the aide said of Boehner and McConnell. “The aim is to make sure the messages match up as much as possible, but there’s also a recognition that sometimes you reflect your caucus’s unique viewpoint.”
In many ways, Boehner and McConnell couldn’t be more different. Boehner is characterized by Republican lobbyists as loving the “art of the schmooze” and is known for holding court at the Capitol Hill Club with a glass of wine.
McConnell is not known to have many outside interests: He’s all about politics and sports, particularly anything having to do with the University of Louisville. More reserved and cautious than Boehner, McConnell is more likely to dine out at La Loma, among his favorite Hill haunts, but probably only in the company of his wife rather than with a regular group of social companions.
Rep. Ed Whitfield, a fellow Kentucky Republican, said McConnell and Boehner “certainly” are different, but he said they have a solid partnership.
“Certainly they are different personalities, but both of them are very effective, I think,” Whitfield said.
Whitfield said that rank-and-file Members are taking their cues from the top and have recently started coordinating more regularly across the Dome.
“We really are trying to make an effort to increase our dealing with Senators,” Whitfield said.
House Members and Senators sometimes have trouble communicating and coordinating; with different rules and procedures, the chambers have a tendency to operate independently.
But Republicans say McConnell and Boehner work together as well as any leadership team. Playing to their advantage: Both became leaders of their respective Conferences at the same time — during a period when the GOP was at its lowest point in decades — and neither aspires to any higher office (other than that McConnell hopes to become the Senate Majority Leader in 2013).
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) said he believes McConnell and Boehner both want to see each other succeed. “I think what both our leaders are doing is effectively talking with each other about the possibilities about what they can do, and I think Speaker Boehner is quite blunt in saying he is going to let the House work its will,” Sessions said.
Still, GOP success over the next two years will require more than a strong Boehner and McConnell relationship.