House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was so offended by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling him a “moron” that he met with her successor, Democratic leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., to make a mutual vow that they would play nice.
Pelosi was dismissive of McCarthy’s leadership during his time at the head of the Republican minority, but his relationship with Jeffries has been notably more respectful. The pair are up front with their disagreements, but have not yet resorted to name-calling.
“We’ll continue to agree to disagree without being disagreeable with each other and find common ground when possible, therefore continuing to work together,” Jeffries told Punchbowl News on Wednesday. “It remains a positive, forward-looking, communicative relationship.”
“I have a great deal of respect for him,” McCarthy said of his counterpart. “We’re going to disagree on different issues. I believe based on the information that we have now, the Congress just needs to get more answers. That’s what we’re going about doing,” he added, referring to a presidential impeachment inquiry.
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“I have worked hard to make sure we have respect for one another. Even when we have, like any relationship, a difference of opinion, I’m going to explain my position to him. He has been very honest and direct with me when he has disagreed, which has been many times. I respect his position. I know what happens today, tomorrow it can be something else,” he told Punchbowl.
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Pelosi, who has just announced plans for re-election, hasn’t let off the gas on McCarthy, however. She described McCarthy as having an “incredibly shrinking speakership” during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Sunday.
Pelosi first got on McCarthy’s bad side in 2021, in an incident that came when McCarthy slammed a House mask mandate as not following the science.
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“Make no mistake – The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state,” McCarthy said at the time.
Asked to react to McCarthy’s comment at a filmed public event, Pelosi responded: “He’s such a moron.”
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McCarthy and Jeffries’ respectful relationship is likely to be tested in the coming months as Republicans get underway with their impeachment inquiry against President Biden. Jeffries has already called the effort “illegitimate.”
Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.