By Russell Berman - 01/25/11 05:51 PM EST
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) invited Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to sit next to him at the State of the Union address — but the former House Speaker says she's already committed.
"I thank @GOPLeader for his #SOTU offer, but I invited my friend Rep. [Roscoe] Bartlett from MD yesterday & am pleased he accepted," Pelosi tweeted.
The pairing would have been among the more high-profile for an event that has in recent days been compared to a school dance, as lawmakers scurry to find cross-party seatmates for the president’s annual address. Instead of the traditional party-line seating arrangement, dozens of members have planned to sit with lawmakers from the other party as a symbol of renewed civility.
The Cantor-Pelosi duo would likely have been awkward, however. The new GOP majority leader on Monday singled out Pelosi for unprompted criticism while he praised her chief deputy, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Cantor and Hoyer were scheduled to have lunch Tuesday, and Cantor noted that while he and Hoyer met throughout the last Congress, he and Pelosi did not.
“I would say that is in stark contrast to the now-minority leader,” Cantor said. “I would love to have the opportunity for her to engage in some type of working relationship so that we can actually deliver results. Thus far it seems she is continuing to drive the ideological agenda just the same as she did over the last four years.”
As far back as June 2009, Cantor complained that then-Speaker Pelosi refused to meet with him.
Pelosi’s office said Monday she met regularly with her GOP counterpart, new Speaker John Boehner (Ohio).
“It's important to set the record straight,” spokesman Nadeam Elshami said. “The fact is, Leader Pelosi has met with Speaker Boehner on numerous occasions both as Speaker and since he became Speaker, and offered to hold regular meetings. Democrats remain committed to working with Republicans to create jobs, strengthen the middle class and reduce the deficit."
This story was first posted at 11:52 a.m.