The House’s No. 2 Democrat blames tea party conservatives and GOP Speaker John A. Boehner for the partisan gridlock that has enveloped Congress this year.
“I think that’s what we’ve seen — it’s not what I think — it’s what we’ve seen repeatedly, that there is a core group [of House Republicans] that is inflexible,” House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland said Tuesday during his weekly briefing with reporters. “Republican leadership is trying to figure out how they, on the one hand, can get sufficient numbers on their side, knowing full well they’re going to need votes on our side. It’s complicated for them, and that’s the problem with electing a very very narrow perspective to serve in the Congress in a collegial body where compromise is essential.”
Mr. Hoyer also placed some of the blame on Mr. Boehner, the Ohio Republican who assumed the speakership when his party took control of the House in January.
“They’ve been pursuing their political message, not policy, [so] to that extent, yes, I think the speaker bears responsibility because after all he is the leader — the leader of the House,” he said.
But the Democratic whip offered sardonic sympathy for Mr. Boehner, who at times has had a less-than-smooth relationship with his top lieutenant, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.
“He has a bigger majority than we had our first go-around” when Democrats took control of the House in 2007, but “he’s got to deal with Mr. Cantor.”