As the calendar turned to 2012, the congressional agenda was not as much of a high-wire act, and Cantor tried to be less of a lightning rod. He focused on smaller, more bipartisan efforts, such as a bill to clarify insider-trading laws and legislation to make it easier for small businesses to gain access to capital investments. After some partisan squabbling, both bills passed with strong bipartisan support and were signed by Obama.
In addition, Boehner and Cantor set out to tone down the infighting. Top staff members for both leaders met in January to bury the hatchet from a rough 2011. Staff changes in both offices, with some senior aides becoming outside political advisers, have also led to a much better day-to-day relationship in the Capitol, according to advisers in both camps.
It was Boehner who invited Cantor and McCarthy to watch Ryan’s address in his suite at the convention, and the speaker heaped praise on Cantor when he stopped by the Virginia delegation Wednesday morning, insisting that this particular young gun has not fallen silent.