House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is trying to sit down with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) this week to discuss “areas of agreement— in a health care overhaul.
Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring said Tuesday the House Republican No. 2 is seeking the huddle after Hoyer indicated last week that he wanted to meet but didn’t follow up with an invitation. “Mr. Cantor looks forward to a positive policy forum where the exchange of ideas is welcome,— Dayspring said.
The back-and-forth over bipartisan health care reform talks in the House was touched off after top GOP lawmakers agreed with President Barack Obama’s assertion in his joint address to Congress that there was 80 percent agreement between Democrats and Republicans on how to tackle reform.
But the efforts at engagement on both sides appear to be more about public relations than a substantive interest in compromise, since House Democrats are in the final decision-making stage of assembling a bill that will almost assuredly attract uniform opposition from Republicans.
Hoyer said Tuesday he has talked with Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), who delivered the Republican response to Obama’s address earlier this month and later seconded the president’s 80 percent figure. “We had a very good conversation,— Hoyer said. “But suffice it to say, I think that 80 percent was more rhetorical than it was real in the sense that there was not sort of a review of what’s been proposed.—
Hoyer pointed to Cantor’s call to start from scratch in drafting health care legislation as evidence that the level of agreement between the parties is less than Republicans are claiming. Republicans have said they agree with 80 percent of Democrats’ health care goals rather than the legislation itself.