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Hoyer blasts Republicans for postponing meeting with Obama

From CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • No. 2 Democrat in House calls for bipartisan cooperation to solve problems
  • Hoyer says he doesn't recall Dems ever postponing a meeting with a Republican president
  • Bipartisan congressional meeting with Obama, set for Thursday, was put off
  • Hoyer deflects question about Dem leaders' age, jabs GOP leaders' lack of diversity

Washington (CNN) -- House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer blasted Congressional Republicans on Thursday for forcing the White House to postpone a bipartisan post-election meeting with President Obama, which the White House had announced was scheduled for Thursday.

"I can never remember an instance when President Bush asked me or a Democrat in leadership to come down to meet with him that we did not accommodate our schedules to that request. I think that is not only respectful of the president of the United States, but it also furthers the ability to solve problems confronting our country," Hoyer said during a session with reporters on Capitol Hill.

Hoyer said he hasn't met with House Republican Leaders since the election, but said, "I am hopeful we will find common ground with our Republican colleagues, who have been given by the American people the authority to set the agenda."

The Maryland Democrat was elected Wednesday to serve as Democratic Whip, the No. 2 leadership position, when Democrats become the minority party in the new Congress.

One reporter asked Hoyer if the House Democratic leadership lineup was too old, with its top leaders -- Nancy Pelosi, Hoyer and Jim Clyburn -- all over 70, while GOP leaders are younger. Hoyer used the question to take a jab at the House GOP leadership for lacking diversity. "I want you to look at the Democratic leadership and then I want you to a look at the Republican leadership. Then I want you to look at America. You tell me which body is representative of our country."

The top three Republicans in the House -- John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy -- are all white males. Democrat Clyburn is African-American.

Hoyer argued Republicans have repeatedly refused to work with Democrats on major legislation, but he told reporters both parties have a responsibility to get beyond the election year mindset.

"Both parties need to extricate themselves from this two-year psychology that we have been put into, understandably, by a two-year election cycle. We cannot afford, either the Republicans or the Democrats, to think in a two-year cycle. The challenges confronting our country demand a longer term vision."

Looking back, Hoyer admitted that Democrats made a mistake by not stressing to the public what Congress had done to address the economy. "Health care took a long time and they forgot that the first thing we dealt with was jobs."