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Posts in "Steny Hoyer"
August 14, 2014
Passing a new Voting Rights Act in the GOP-dominated House was never going to be easy, supporters acknowledge. But with a powerful Republican such as Eric Cantor as an ally, hope flickered for nearly a year.
Then came June 10 and the shocking primary defeat that tanked Cantor’s congressional career — taking with it, in all likelihood, any prospect for an update of the landmark 1965 civil rights legislation that had been weakened by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling.
Even with Cantor as majority leader, said a House aide close to the VRA negotiations, “I would have speculated that it was certainly a very steep climb. That it was unlikely, but there was still hope.”
But with the Virginia Republican out of the mix, the aide said, “it doesn’t appear we’re going to see it this Congress.”
It’s a disappointing turn that has some Democrats wondering if Cantor ever deserved the benefit of a doubt on minority voting rights. Full story
July 30, 2014
Democrats are apparently considering a tactic of voting down the House highway bill in hopes that Republicans would have to accept the Senate measure that offers a different timeline for funding construction projects. Asked whether there would be new Democratic opposition to the bill on Wednesday, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland suggested it is possible.
“We think the Senate bill is far better policy, and we’re discussing now our response to that,” Hoyer told reporters.
The Senate passed an amended form of the bill Tuesday, 79-18, changing some of the offsets in the bill and the length of the measure from May to December. Though the Senate bill is a shorter term, the idea is to force Congress to find a more permanent solution in the lame-duck, not in May, at “the beginning of the next construction season,” as Hoyer put it.
Democrats overwhelmingly supported the House version of the bill on July 15 when the measure passed 367-55. There were 45 Republicans voting against the measure. If those same 45 Republicans maintain their opposition, Democrats could force the GOP’s hand. At the very least, some of the Republican dissenters would need to flip their vote to help the measure pass the chamber.
The same would be true of the Democrats who voted for the bill, which Speaker John A. Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel was happy to point out.
July 29, 2014
A Congress known for its dysfunction and acrimony may be on the verge of a rare triple combo — passing major bills addressing the border crisis, the Veterans Affairs scandal and the Highway Trust Fund in one week. But if it happens, it’s going to be like the rest of the 113th: ugly.
The pre-August sprint got off on the right foot with the announcement Monday of a $17 billion deal to slash wait times at the Department of Veterans Affairs, followed Tuesday by the 97-0 confirmation of former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary.
A highway patch seemed likely too, although not without last-minute wrangling between the two chambers over the fine print. Full story
As House Republicans search for the votes to pass a $659 million border supplemental bill, the key to getting the measure across the finish line may rest with one group: Democrats.
Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., seemed to indicate Tuesday there would be some support for the border supplemental on the Democratic side, though exactly how many Democratic votes Republicans could count on was a mystery.
Hoyer said he thought the $659 million was “inadequate,” and said doing it for just two months was “bad policy.”
“But I don’t think it would be a poison pill, if you will,” he said. “Essentially, we’re arguing how long a time are we going to appropriate the money for.”
Indeed, many Republicans may have trouble swallowing a $659 million price tag to address the border crisis for just two months, but the money could be the key for Democrats. Of course, many Democrats still have a problem with the proposed changes to a 2008 law on human trafficking that would essentially expedite the deportation of children from Central America, and those provisions certainly make passage in the Democratic Senate tricky. But the bill might have tacked just enough to the middle to at least make it through the House.
At least that was the tone Hoyer struck Tuesday, even as he noted that he didn’t personally like the bill.
Pressed on why Democrats wouldn’t withhold all their support and make Republicans pass the bill with only GOP votes, Hoyer suggested that relying on Democratic votes to pass the supplemental was a risky strategy for Republicans.
“Well if they need it, they’re throwing dice,” Hoyer said.
But he didn’t say Democratic leadership would be clamping down on its members to ensure no Democrat votes for the proposal. “I don’t know how much support there’s going to be on this side for their proposition,” Hoyer said.
The No. 2 House Democrat indicated he wouldn’t exactly be helping Republicans pass the bill. “I don’t see myself trying to get them votes for a language change,” he said, referring to the 2008 trafficking law. But Hoyer didn’t express great confidence in his ability to whip against this vote.
“I wish I could be as assured that I could give votes or not give votes that you premise,” Hoyer said.
July 22, 2014
With the August recess fast approaching and emergency funding to deal with the border crisis seemingly no closer to passage than it was a week ago, Democrats and Republicans are firing up a new round of the blame game.
Shortly after Speaker John A. Boehner pointed the finger at the White House and congressional Democrats for the lack of action on a spending package to address the sharp rise of unaccompanied minors crossing the border, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer redirected the blame right back at Republicans.
“I think it would be the height of irresponsibility to leave without addressing this humanitarian issue,” Hoyer said Tuesday during his weekly pen-and-pad briefing with reporters. Full story
July 14, 2014
The office of House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., announced Monday that Stephanie Young, Hoyer’s national press secretary, will be heading to the White House to serve as an associate communication’s director, prompting the promotion of Hoyer’s state press secretary, Mariel Saez, to be Young’s successor.
Tuesday will be Young’s last day as Hoyer’s national press secretary before moving to her new position at the White House. Young has already worked with President Barack Obama, first as the regional press secretary in Florida for Obama’s re-election campaign and again in 2013 as director of constituency press.
“Stephanie has done a tremendous job as my National Press Secretary,” Hoyer said in a statement on the new hire. “She has been a wonderful resource for the press and a key part of House Democrats’ messaging efforts, and I wish her all the best as she heads to the White House.”
Saez also boasts experience serving as Hoyer’s spokesperson on issues ranging from veteran affairs to immigration. A Maryland native from Hoyer’s district, Saez started out with the Maryland Democrat as an intern.
“I am pleased Mariel will be taking on this new role,” Hoyer said. “Her tireless work ethic, knowledge of the House, and experience with the press will continue to make her a valuable asset to me, the Democratic Caucus, and members of the media.”
Saez was brought onto Hoyer’s team in 2010 as a press assistant and researcher. She is a graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland — also in Hoyer’s district — where she earned a degree in economics.