Washington (CNN) – Pointing to victories in recent special elections, the number two Democrat in the House sought Sunday to buck the conventional wisdom about his party’s prospects in this fall’s midterms.
“I don’t think we’re talking about a big loss,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said on CNN’s State of the Union.
Hoyer told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley that his party has done well in special congressional elections since the passage of the health care bill.
“After the last summer, which was a very hot summer politically, as you recall, we won a number of races during that period of time. Health care was a very hot topic.”
Notwithstanding the potential political fallout from passage of the health care overhaul, Hoyer pointed out that Democrats had won special elections in New York’s 20th and 23rd congressional districts and Pennsylvania’s 12th .
Washington (CNN) – The top Republican in the Senate sought Sunday to stay out of the weeklong war of words between the NAACP and the Tea Party movement.
At its annual convention last week, the longstanding civil rights organization passed a resolution that called on the conservative grassroots movement to repudiate racism within its ranks. The resolution set off a national firestorm that came to a head Friday when Mark Williams, a spokesman for a national Tea Party group, decided to remove a satirical letter he had posted on his blog site earlier in the week in response to the resolution.
Asked about the controversy on CNN’s State of the Union, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sidestepped the prickly issue.
“Oh my goodness, . . . I’m not interested in getting into that debate,” McConnell told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “What we’re interested in is trying to have an election this fall that will respond to what the American people are asking us to do which is to have some checks and balances here.”
Washington (CNN) - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer Tuesday disagreed with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' assessment over the weekend that there were enough seats in play this year for Democrats to potentially lose control of the House of Representatives.
Referring the number of Congressional seats that are competitive this election cycle, Hoyer admitted that it's "probably close," but he quickly added that just because there are a lot of seats in play does not mean "by any stretch of the imagination that I think we're going to lose the House. I don't think we are going to lose the House."
Hoyer told reporters at his weekly session on Capitol Hill that he understands Americans are still angry with political leaders that the economy hasn't turned around quickly enough. But he said Democrats will make the case in the months leading up to the midterm election that electing GOP candidates will return the country to "Bush Republican failed policies."
Washington (CNN) - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was cautious Tuesday about whether the House can muster the votes to pass an immigration bill before the upcoming midterm elections.
"We'll have to see," the Maryland Democrat said at his weekly meeting with reporters. "We'll have to see what the Senate can do."
Because the last major effort to overhaul immigration in 2007 fell apart in the Senate and there are currently so many other bills passed by the House that still await Senate action, Hoyer said there's an agreement among leaders to see what kind of legislation can pass in the Senate before the House tackles the controversial issue. So, the leading Democrat said, it's up to the Senate to take the lead on crafting a new proposal.
While Hoyer said there is agreement on the need for stronger enforcement at the borders, he conceded that there is division within Democratic ranks about how to deal with undocumented immigrants already in the county. Hoyer said he supports a comprehensive bill that includes stronger enforcement measures for border security, penalties for those in the country illegally, and a path toward citizenship.
The House Majority Leader also criticized current federal enforcement efforts at the border, telling reporters he agrees with those in Arizona who pushed for a new law to crack down on the flow of illegal immigrants into the state.
"In part, of course, what the people of Arizona are saying is that the feds haven't done their job. I think they're right: the feds haven't done their job," he said.
But the Maryland Democrat criticized the new state law's enforcement mechanism.
(CNN) - House Democratic leaders have killed a bill that would have given Washington, DC a voting representative in Congress because the measure included a provision that would have wiped out the District's strict gun laws.
"I am extraordinarily disappointed," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said as he announced the House of Representatives will not vote on the measure this year.
It's a victory for gun control advocates but a disappointment for activists who have been working for decades to get a voting representative in Congress and saw this Democrat-controlled Congress as their best chance. The District has an elected delegate in the House of Representatives, Democrat Eleanor Holmes-Norton, but she cannot vote on the House floor.
"This legislation should be focused solely on the central premise of American democracy, that citizens have a fundamental right to be represented in the policy-making body of their country, a representative with not just a voice but a vote," Hoyer told reporters off camera.
When the Senate took up the DC voting rights bill last year, Republicans attached a gun provision that a number of pro-gun rights Democrats helped pass. It was expected to pass the House, which also has a pro-gun rights majority, as early as Wednesday. But Hoyer said "the price was too high," and the bill was scrapped, a decision ultimately made by Holmes-Norton.
(CNN) - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer admitted Tuesday that the protests and rallies by Tea Party activists across the country are having an impact on lawmakers' decisions about running for another term.
"Do I think that negative atmosphere that's been created by the Tea Party and by others certainly goes into the thinking of Members? I think it does. I think you honestly have to point out that it does," Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen and pad session in the Capitol.
But Hoyer maintained that Tea Party activists had nothing to do with Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak's announcement last week not to run for re-election. "Bart Stupak is a very courageous Member; he wasn't forced out by anybody." Hoyer said he took Stupak at his word that representing a large rural district made it tough to spend time with his family.
The Majority Leader said "I would urge all the members who are here to run, to seek re-election." He noted that currently more House Republicans have decided to retire than House Democrats, and argued that if the atmosphere was a big factor then the opposite would be true.
(CNN) - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer denounced House Republicans Tuesday for their behavior on the House floor and for inciting protestors outside the U.S. Capitol during the health care debate this weekend.
"Members of Congress ought not to act like some people acted in town meetings," Hoyer told reporters.
While Hoyer criticized Texas Republican Congressman Randy Neugebauer's outburst - Neugebauer yelled "baby killer" while Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak spoke on the House floor Sunday - the majority leader reiterated that he didn't believe any action to reprimand Neugebauer was necessary. He said that the Republican's statement released Monday was sufficient and an apology on the House floor wasn't needed.
Neugebauer said in his statement he shouted, "It's a baby killer," and that he was referring to an agreement Stupak and other anti-abortion Democrats had struck with the White House - not to Stupak himself.
Washington (CNN) - House Democrats appear to be softening their pledge to allow the public 72 hours to review the health care reform package online before a House vote. "We will certainly give as much notice as possible, but I'm not going to say that 72 hours is going to be the litmus test," said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Friday.
"The House bill or Senate bill, as proposed, has been online for some two-and-a-half months, otherwise known about 75 days," Hoyer added, referring to the November and December dates each chamber passed its version of health care legislation.
But Democrats could vote as soon as next week on a series of changes to the health care package - called a reconciliation bill - and the number two House Republican criticized Hoyer directly on House floor.
Washington (CNN) - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is pushing back against the March 18 deadline that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs indicated was the target for a vote on health care reform.
Asked by a reporter about a potential health care vote on the 18th, Hoyer replied, "Your premise is incorrect. You mean that date that Mr Gibbs mentioned. None of us has mentioned the 18th, other than Mr Gibbs. We are trying to do this as soon as possible. That continues to be our objective."
Last week, Gibbs said he expected the House to vote on health care by that date, the same day President Obama departs for an overseas trip.
Hoyer declined to give a specific deadline for when the House would take up health care, saying only that it would be "soon."