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Who's coming to the White House meeting?

As Republicans assumed control of the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress, outgoing speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) handed over her gavel to Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

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By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 30, 2010; 9:25 AM

President Obama has heavily hyped Tuesday morning's session with congressional leaders as his first step both in rebounding from the rebuke voters handed him in this month's elections and in reducing the partisanship in Washington.

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But it also represents a key meeting for the members of Congress themselves. Here's a guide to the Democrats and Republicans attending the session at the White House, their relationships with the president and what they might discuss with him.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio): Boehner and Obama not only have virtually no relationship, they spent months attacking each other on the campaign trail.

Since the election, Obama has held back. He and his aides did not complain when GOP leaders decided they could not show up two weeks ago, when this meeting was originally supposed to occur.

Boehner has not been as conciliatory; he said Obama was in "denial" initially about the meaning of the election results.

The designated speaker of the House in the next Congress and the leader of a party that just made huge gains in Congress, Boehner is not likely to give ground to the president on anything.

Instead, Boehner will likely emphasize at Tuesday's meeting and beyond that Republicans want the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 permanently extended for all Americans, including those with incomes above $250,000 a year.

His power is limited in the lame-duck session of Congress, because Democrats still far outnumber Republicans in the House. But that will change come January.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.): The No. 2 House Republican has long cultivated a political profile separate from Boehner, even as they share the same views on most policy issues.

Cantor is in many ways the voice of a younger group of Republicans who have grown in influence in the past two years. So the Virginia lawmaker is likely to highlight positions the party has adopted since Obama's election, such as its strong opposition to earmarks. (Obama has announced he would back an earmark ban, but Cantor and Boehner want him to pledge to veto any legislation that includes earmarks.)

If there is any sharp exchange in the meeting, it probably will be between Obama and Cantor. In early 2009, a back-and-forth between the two during one of these closed-door meetings led Obama to bluntly remind Cantor that, in the 2008 campaign, "I won."

This time, Cantor could say something similar to the president.


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