With no deal in sight on a congressional spending plan needed to avoid a government shutdown Tuesday, House Republican and Democratic leaders have yet to even discuss a compromise, the chamber's No. 2 Democrat said.
"The sad news is, no Republican leader has called me up and asked, 'How can we work this out?' I mean, that's how the process ought to work," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday.
Hoyer, who was first elected to the House in 1981, said that even when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ruled the House during several highly partisan-charged years in the 1990s, the Georgia Republican made attempts to work with the Democratic minority — unlike now.
Voters "expect us to work, they don't expect us to sit in the corner and have a tantrum," Hoyer said. "They don't expect us to simply demand what the other party can't do."
He said he wasn't surprised House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.; and other GOP House leaders haven't reached out to Democrats in an attempt to strike a deal to keep federal agencies funded into the new fiscal year, which begins Tuesday, because they've failed to do so on most major legislative matters since taking control of the chamber in 2011.
The Maryland Democrat blamed the gridlock on influential outside conservative groups like the Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation and Freedom Works, which he said essentially control the House GOP leadership team.
"Their pattern is going further and further to the right," he said. "Nothing is too irresponsible for this crowd to pursue."
Hoyer offered no predictions on how the spending bill crisis may play out, saying that there "literally hundreds of different scenarios."