The fact that Hoyer and Pelosi could again part ways on a continuing resolution, just as they did on the last two that passed the House, shows the real policy differences that persist between the two leaders, despite a working partnership that is now in its ninth year. And it illustrates the unique role Hoyer plays in his caucus, as a leader of his party’s moderates who is willing to break with the majority of his fellow Democrats on some issues.
“I think we would all like for them to be on the same page,” said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.). But it’s not surprising, he said, that Pelosi and Hoyer are divided, given that they’re both leaders with strong views.
Hoyer is known as a moderate and a pragmatist — a dealmaker who has friends on the Republican side of the aisle. Pelosi is seen more as a committed liberal, less willing to compromise on ideological issues.
In addition to their policy splits, Hoyer and Pelosi have had their personal differences. Pelosi beat Hoyer in the race for minority whip in 2002, their only head-to-head matchup. In 2006, Pelosi rattled her caucus by supporting then-Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) for majority leader over Hoyer, who won the contest decisively. Since then, Pelosi and Hoyer have developed a more productive working relationship, though they are still not known to be close friends.
On the three-week continuing resolution that passed March 15, Hoyer was among 85 Democrats who voted aye, and Pelosi was among 104 who voted no. On the resolution two weeks earlier, Hoyer also voted in favor and Pelosi against, though in that case the majority of Democrats agreed with Hoyer.
“The real key is neither one of those votes was perceived as a key party vote, so the fact that Nancy voted one way and I voted another was not reflective of anything,” Hoyer said in an interview Thursday.
So could the two Democrats split again if there’s a final deal on spending? Hoyer wouldn’t hazard a guess, because the details of such an agreement were unknown.
“I think if it’s a deal the president has signed off on and Reid has signed off on, there will be real pressure on us to agree with that,” Hoyer said. “But I don’t think that means all our members will go along.”
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), a former leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she wouldn’t take her cue from either Pelosi or Hoyer.
“For progressives, we have our own compass. We don’t wait for either one of them,” she said.
But Woolsey said it was also important for Democrats to stick together in this fight, and “together means we don’t buy into some kind of compromise that hurts seniors, children and the most vulnerable.”