(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."
Washington (CNN) - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer dismissed Tuesday as "absolutely untrue" former Rep. Eric Massa's claim that he was forced out of Congress because of his opposition to health care reform.
Pressed by CNN about Massa's assertion that he was pushed out to save the health care bill and his criticism of the leadership tactics on the issue, Hoyer firmly responded, "It's absolutely untrue."
The number two House Democrat insisted repeatedly that there was no relationship between his actions regarding Massa and health care, emphasizing to reporters "Is anybody confused? Do I need to clarify that?"
Washington (CNN) – There's a lot of talk in nation's capital about failure. The failure of Congress to pass health care reform. The failure of the Senate to extend unemployment benefits. The failure of the House to pass bills the Senate supermajority will find palatable.
You get the idea.
Then there's the kind of failure that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer addressed Monday at a Brookings Institution speech on "fiscal responsibility."
Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat serving his 15th term, was warning about failure of a different magnitude entirely: The decline of America's economic dominance because of the growing weight of its debt.
"This, then, is our turning point and our choice: the point at which we join the debt-ridden powers who saw the story of their greatness end in fiscal ruin, or the point at which we as a nation refuse that ending and write a new chapter," Hoyer said.
Washington (CNN) – A jobs bill passed by the House should be approved by the Senate and sent to President Barack Obama as soon as possible, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday.
In a speech at the National Press Club, Hoyer outlined the legislative agenda of House Democrats in an election year for the entire chamber.
Job creation and debt reduction topped Hoyer's list as part of a broad approach to confront the long-term problem of unsustainable government spending.
Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, cited health care reform and energy reform - both passed by the House but facing uncertain fates - as vital legislation for both job creation and reduced spending.
Another House-passed measure - a jobs bill that would use federal bailout money for infrastructure development and other programs creating jobs - also is awaiting action in the Senate.
Washington (CNN) – A top House Democrat said Tuesday that the Senate health care bill is "clearly better than nothing" - an indication the House of Representatives is considering passing the more conservative Senate measure with no alterations.
The House Democratic leadership may resort to that course of action if Massachusetts GOP state Sen. Scott Brown wins Tuesday's race to fill the vacancy created by the death of Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy.
A Brown victory would deprive Democrats of their 60-seat Senate supermajority and give the GOP enough votes to block future Senate votes on health care and other White House priorities. If the House passes the Senate bill as currently written, however, the measure could proceed straight to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters he remains "hopeful" Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democratic nominee, will defeat Brown. But if she does not, passing the Senate version would be "clearly better than nothing," he said.
Later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added, "Whatever happens in Massachusetts, we will have quality, affordable health care for all Americans, and it will be soon."
Several Democratic congressional sources tell CNN that having the House approve the Senate bill is likely the best of a series of bad options to pass health care in the event of a Brown victory.
Washington (CNN) – A top House Democrat told reporters Tuesday that congressional Democrats are moving ahead with plans to vote before the Christmas holidays on legislation intended to create more jobs.
"Clearly 10.2 percent unemployment is unacceptable and is causing great pain to literally millions of people around the country." House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said.
Hoyer said Democratic leaders are still deciding what components to include in the new jobs bill, but pledged they were on track to pass legislation before Congress breaks for the year. Several measures are under discussion, including additional unemployment assistance, extension of temporary health care coverage for those out of work, assistance for cash-strapped states, and tax credits for employers who hire new workers. Hoyer also indicated another federal infusion of money to build roads and bridges - a major component of the stimulus bill enacted in February - is likely to be a major focus.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Tuesday a health care bill could pass the House without a public health insurance option. That assessment from the number two Democrat breaks with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who just last week insisted that "a bill without a strong public option will not pass the House."
When asked about the Speaker's position, Hoyer didn't answer directly, but signaled there would be support for a bill as long as it included major reforms. "I think a bill can pass the House that the majority of the House believes enhances, moves forward substantially the providing of access for affordable, quality healthcare…I believe a bill that accomplishes very substantially the objectives the President has put forward and we put forward can pass the House."
The Majority Leader repeated that while he still supports a public option, he could vote for a bill without one. "I think it is vital - it's vital, important. Do I think it's a condition of passing the bill? My position has been I'm for the public option. I want to see us adopt a public option, but I think there is a lot in the bill that is very good in addition to the public option. Interpreted, that means if the public option weren't in there, I still could support a bill because I think there's a lot in there that's good."
Hoyer repeated an assessment he made last month about the level of support for the public option. "I think it's a good option. On the other hand, I have said I hope we move a bill forward that can garner a majority of support."