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Hoyer Remarks at Press Conference on House Democrats' "100 Days In: Fighting For The People" Issues Conference

WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks today at a press conference with House Democratic leaders at the beginning of House Democrats’ "100 Days In: Fighting For The People" Issues Conference in Leesburg, Virginia. Below is a transcript of his remarks:

“Hakeem Jeffries became our Chairman and the distinguished lady from Massachusetts, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, became our Vice Chair. I’ve held both of those offices, and this is a big deal for our caucus, but it is also a big deal for them. It was a big undertaking, and they have organized a wonderful, wonderful conference. Katherine, thank you. Hakeem, thank you for your leadership. We’re very proud of both of you.

“This caucus represents all of America. That’s what you’ve seen at this conference; that’s what you see in the House of Representatives. You see all of America represented.

“I’m shocked that Nancy did not reiterate that 35 of the 63 new members are women and the majority of new Members of Congress. That’s historic. Two native American women for the first time in history. Nine additions to the Congressional Black Caucus; additions to the Hispanic Caucus; additions to the LGBT Equality Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. We increased in every area of American society.

“Why? Because they wanted us to come here and work for them, and as Hakeem and Cheri Bustos would say: For The People.

“That’s what our agenda has been. On the first day we got there, we put legislation through to open up government. For the first time in history the government was shut down by our Republican predecessors, and the Congress took over with a partially shut down government.

“And we unanimously voted time, after time, after time until ultimately government was in fact open. We voted to open it up in every which way we could possibly think our Republican colleagues might accept. Unfortunately, it took them a very long time to do that.

“Then, as the Speaker has indicated, we passed H.R. 1. We had campaigned throughout the country on three premises. Number one: we would work for the jobs and wages and good paying jobs. Number two: that we would make sure that the Affordable Care Act was available to all the people so their health care and the cost of their health care and prescription drugs would be brought down. Our committees have held hearings, are working vigorously on that, and we’re going to be having legislation on the Floor in the very near future to achieve those objectives.

“But [number 3:] H.R. 1 was put forward and was unanimously passed, which dealt with voting rights to make sure that every American not only had the right to vote, not only had access to vote, not only had it made it easy for them to register and vote, but to make sure that vote was counted as well. And then we dealt with redistricting reform. We know the American people are concerned that redistricting in the states is for the politicians and not for them. So we passed redistricting reform to make sure that it was for the people, that we would have districts that would reflect their interests, and be reflected in the Congress in that way. And then I’m proud to say under the leadership of my colleague from Maryland John Sarbanes, we passed a major campaign finance reform piece of legislation, which is going to try to eliminate dark money coming into the politics of our country that the people don’t know where it came from, don’t know who is talking to them. Then, of course, ethics reform, which we also passed, which in part said the President ought to give us his tax returns. Why? Because he’s the only person in America who can do something on his own… to know whether he’s acting for the people or for himself. That’s a legitimate question for the American people to ask, and we’re asking it for them.

“In addition to that, and I’ve been asked to mention this briefly, infrastructure. When we talked about jobs, wages, and good paying jobs, we talked about infrastructure because that is critical to America’s competitiveness and the creation of those good jobs that we need in this country and the high wages that we need in this country for our people. Committees have held hearings on that. We have held meetings about that. We’re moving in, and we want to do that in a bipartisan fashion with the President, with the Senate, and with the House because we want to get that done for the people.

“Now let me close with this: we’ve had a hundred days of success, and yesterday was no exception. Yesterday we set the spending levels for the Appropriations Committee so we can move forward in a timely fashion so we can consider bills now with a deemed level of spending so we can prevent the catastrophic, tragic, and unwarranted shutdown of government and do our business on time. So we had a victory yesterday, and we’re going to have future victories for the people.

“Now, I want to introduce somebody who has been working for the people all of his adult life: the Democratic Whip, the Majority Whip of the House of Representatives, Jim Clyburn.”


“I want to reiterate what I said, we had a victory yesterday. Our Republican friends would like to think it was not, and frankly it was reported, as somehow, as we lost control. I will tell you that Speaker Pelosi and I were in charge along with Mr. Clyburn for four years, and we never lost a vote that we wanted to win.

“Very frankly, we wouldn’t have lost any vote this week if we wanted to win, and we did win. We set the numbers, we set the numbers for the appropriations, and very frankly, the fact that John Yarmuth and his committee were able to report out a number, which is the number that we adopted on the Floor of the House of Representatives almost unanimously on our side of the aisle to give to the Appropriations Committee the necessary direction that they needed to mark up their twelve bills. I believe those bills will be passed by the end of June, which I believe will be the earliest time all twelve bills will have passed, certainly in the last forty years – I’ve been there 38 years.


“…We adopted a gross number – that is the total number of discretionary spending. As you know, only 30% of the money that we spend every year is discretionary funds. But we have set that. We are on a path. Ms. Lowey is not here, but she is one of our leaders. She and I have been working [on this]. Both the [Speaker] and I have spoken regularly to Senator McConnell… He wants the caps set. Now he didn’t come forward because he wanted to see what we would do, but once the committee reported out a number, then he obviously wanted to participate in making that number. Very frankly, at that point in time, we felt, the Speaker and I both felt, there was no point in going forward with a caps bill when we were going to have a negotiation between the big four. Clearly, we cannot pass a caps bill on our own. The Senate must act, and the President must sign. The caps are set, the sequester is set in law, but we could, procedurally, set the numbers for the Appropriations Committee, and we did that successfully.”