Reports of a rivalry between the top two House Republicans have been greatly exaggerated.
So says House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Asked Thursday about reports of staff-level disagreements between his office and that of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the speaker told reporters at the Capitol that tiffs between staffers are “to be expected” and downplayed any disagreements between himself and his top deputy.
“We are teammates, and we have been teammates,” Boehner said of himself and Cantor. “I can tell you that I don’t think there’s been a disagreement between Eric and I over the course of the last year. As you’re clearly aware, there’s been a couple of staff rumbles from time to time, but that’s to be expected when you’re doing big things.”
Boehner was responding to a question about a Politico report Wednesday night that detailed some of the inter-office sparring between some of the two leaders’ top aides.
“When Boehner and Cantor hold their once-a-week session, they do it without any aides present because they could not agree on who would be allowed to attend,” Politico’s Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan reported.
Asked Thursday about that relationship, Boehner told reporters that he and Cantor had decided “about three years ago” that they would regularly hold one-on-one sit-downs “just so we could have a chat about where we’re going and do so between the two of us.
“When you’re trying to do real work in this setting, you’re going to have some very passionate people – our members and our staff, they’re passionate about what they do. Sometimes that leads to some disagreement,” he said.
Boehner added that he had spoken Thursday morning with the entire House GOP leadership team, including senior leadership staff, about “our need to continue to work together for our team.”
“I feel good about where we are and happy that we’ve got the team that we have,” he said.
Boehner also at Thursday’s news conference urged President Obama to call on the Senate to take up a quartet of House-passed bills, including the Access to Capital for Job Creators Act and the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, that Republicans argue would help lead to job creation.
“These are four of the bills the president says he was going to send up here for us,” Boehner said. “Well guess what, Mr. President? We’ve done our work. Call up Harry Reid and see if the Senate’s ever going to do anything over there. These are some areas of common ground, and so the president has said he’d sign these. I don’t know what the Senate Democrats are waiting for.”
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.