Say this about the 113th Congress: It's managed to live down to low expectations.
With only a lame-duck, post-Election Day mop-up session left before a new Congress takes office in January, the 113th is on track to be one of the least productive congresses — in terms of laws passed and signed by the president — in 60 years.
The 113th Congress, which passed a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through Dec. 11 before heading out of town , has seen just 165 pieces of legislation enacted.
The total from the House Clerk tracks only through August and lists 164 measures — more than 100 pieces of legislation below the 283 measures enacted in the 112th Congress and well below the 383 in the 111th Congress.
Another handful of bills have been sent to the president, but unless the 113th has an unprecedented burst of productivity when members return for the lame duck, the die is cast.
As Georgia Democrat Hank Johnson told CQ Roll Call last week, "This has been the most do-nothingest Congress."
It's a distinction Democrats insist is a disgrace and an abdication of the responsibility of governing. After the Sept. 18 announcement from the GOP leadership that the final five days of House sessions scheduled before the November elections would be canceled, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., ripped the Republicans for leaving work on the table.
"It is a good afternoon," Pelosi said at a hastily-arranged news conference near the House floor, "but not a good afternoon for Congress to adjourn for this session."
"We were supposed to be here tomorrow, then another week," Pelosi fumed, flanked by Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., and Assistant Leader James E. Clyburn, D-S.C. "Now we've been informed by the Republican leadership that anything that we were ever going to do is over until we come back for the lame-duck session."
"The American people have to ask, 'What do you do for a living? What do you do for my living?'" said Pelosi. "What are you doing for me?'"
The news conference was also the three top House Democrats' final chance to collectively make their case before cameras and microphones that voters in November should oust the GOP from the majority in the House — and keep the Democrats in control of the Senate.
But a newly confident and disciplined GOP — Speaker John A. Boehner's team pushed this week's spending bill through the House easily , despite tea party concerns — is looking forward to Nov. 4.
Boehner and Co. expect the GOP edge in the House to grow, and in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., and other Republicans sense that retaking that chamber is within their grasp.
As for the "do-nothing" charge, many Republicans contend that holding the legislative line on what they and many of their constituents consider an overreaching, out-of-control White House is no vice. After all, suing the president is also part of the 113th's legacy.
Others in the GOP say any blame over a lack of legislative productivity should be assigned to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the Democrat-controlled Senate – not the GOP-controlled House.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told CQ Roll Call that House Republicans had passed hundreds of bills, "including jobs bill after jobs bill."
"But Washington Democrats — including President Obama and Senate Democratic leaders — have utterly failed to act," Steel said.
Moira Bagley Smith, spokeswoman for Majority Whip Steve Scalise, said, "Considering the Senate is sitting on over 350 pieces of House-passed legislation from this Congress, I believe Sen. Reid's chamber single-handedly has earned the title of 'least productive.'
"The contrast in productivity between these two chambers couldn't be more obvious," she added.
That's a refrain they'll use on the campaign trail, as the GOP attempts to reclaim control of the Senate. The party needs to win at least six seats to take over.
Reid, in his last news conference before adjourning the Senate until Nov. 12 , ticked off a list of Democratic priorities rejected by GOP leaders: pay equity, raising the minimum wage, a proposal to allow student loans to be refinanced to lower interest rates and a measure to discourage outsourcing jobs overseas.
"Their charade is so cynical that they even block bills they claim to want," Reid said.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., however, said Reid's unwillingness to hold open debates and allow the Senate to vote for fear of a political backlash in November has brought the Senate to a halt.
"It's just [a result of] increased partisanship, increased dictatorial practice, very frankly," McCain added.
Whether the credit goes to Republicans or Democrats, the lack of legislative accomplishments earns this group a unique position in congressional history. But there were other unforgettable moments from the past 20 months that are also cemented in the 113th's legacy.
There were surprises — such as Sen. Rand Paul's out-of-the-blue 13-hour filibuster on drones — a throwback move which reminded the country that Congress, despite its troubles, retains the power to inspire.
And there were breakdowns in civility, none more stunning or explosive than Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa's decision to cut the mic of ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings.
There were also successes. For the first time since 2009, both chambers agreed to a budget.
And there were gut-wrenching stalemates, like last year's partial government shutdown, that dragged on into days that turned into weeks.
Earlier this year, conventional wisdom held that the October shutdown would be an albatross around Republican necks this election. The GOP, meanwhile, was just as sure that the Affordable Care Act would cripple Democrats. Instead, both issues have taken a backseat as concerns about terrorism, immigration and the economy have surged to the fore.
But whatever the issue — spending, unemployment, entitlements, tax reform, the Affordable Care Act, immigration — they'll all be waiting there under the dome for the new Congress in January.
That, too, is part of the 113th's legacy.
Steven T. Dennis, Emma Dumain, Matt Fuller and Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.
Related:Reid Sets Lame-Duck ScheduleBipartisan Bloc Coalesces Behind CR, Syrian Rebels AmendmentMcCarthy Suggests Post-Election Vote Authorizing Military ForceCongress Locked in ISIS War Muddle50 Richest Members of CongressFrom the Archives: Congress on Path to Be Least ProductiveRoll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every SeatGet breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.
|House Minority Whip|
January 3, 2011
|Preceded by||Eric Cantor|
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
|Preceded by||Nancy Pelosi|
|Succeeded by||Roy Blunt|
|House Majority Leader|
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2011
|Preceded by||John Boehner|
|Succeeded by||Eric Cantor|
|Chair of the House Democratic Conference|
June 21, 1989 – January 3, 1995
|Preceded by||William Grey|
|Succeeded by||Vic Fazio|
|Vice Chair of the House Democratic Conference|
January 3, 1989 – June 21, 1989
|Preceded by||Mary Rose Oakar|
|Succeeded by||Vic Fazio|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Maryland's 5th district
May 19, 1981
|Preceded by||Gladys Spellman|
|82nd President of the Maryland Senate|
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1978
|Preceded by||William James|
|Succeeded by||James Clark|
|Member of the Maryland Senate|
for the 26th District
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1978
|Preceded by||District established|
|Succeeded by||B.W. Mike Donovan|
|Member of the Maryland Senate|
for District 4C
|Preceded by||District established|
|Succeeded by||District abolished|
|Born||Steny Hamilton Hoyer|
(1939-06-14) June 14, 1939 (age 78)
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Judith Hoyer (deceased 1997)|
|Education||University of Maryland, College Park(BA)|
Steny Hamilton Hoyer (born June 14, 1939) is the U.S. Representative for Maryland's 5th congressional district, serving since 1981. The district includes a large swath of rural and suburban territory southeast of Washington, D.C.. Immediately following the retirement of Barbara Mikulski, Hoyer became the dean of the Maryland Congressional delegation.
A Democrat, he was first elected in a special election on 19 May 1981 and served as the House Majority Leader from 2007 to 2011. He had previously served as House Minority Whip from 2003 to 2007, and was reelected to that post in 2011. These positions make him the second-ranking figure in the House Democratic Leadership hierarchy. As of December 5, 2017 he is the most senior Democrat serving in the House of Representatives following the resignation of John Conyers.
Early life and education
Hoyer was born in New York City, New York, and grew up in Mitchellville, Maryland, the son of Jean (née Baldwin) and Steen Theilgaard Høyer. His father was Danish and a native of Copenhagen; "Steny" is a variant of his father's name, "Steen", and Hoyer is an anglicized form of the fairly common Danish surname "Høyer". His mother was an American, with Scottish, German, and English ancestry, and a descendant of John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He graduated from Suitland High School in Suitland, Maryland.
In 1963, he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he also became a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He earned his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., in 1966.
Early political career
For four years, from 1962 to 1966, Hoyer was a member of the staff of United States Senator Daniel Brewster (D-Maryland); also on Senator Brewster's staff at that time was Nancy Pelosi, who would later become a leadership colleague of Hoyer as she served as Minority Leader and Speaker of the House.
In 1966, Hoyer won a newly created seat in the Maryland State Senate, representing Prince George's County-based Senate District 4C. The district, created in the aftermath of Reynolds v. Sims, was renumbered as the 26th district in 1975, the same year that Hoyer was elected President of the Maryland State Senate, the youngest in state history.
From 1969 to 1971, Hoyer served as the 1st Vice President of the Young Democrats of America.
In 1978, Hoyer sought the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Maryland as the running mate of then acting Governor Blair Lee III, but lost out to Samuel Bogley 37%–34%. In the same year, Hoyer was appointed to the Maryland Board of Higher Education, a position he served in until 1981.
U.S. House of Representatives
Fifth District Congresswoman Gladys Spellman fell into a coma three days before the 1980 election. She was reelected, but it soon became apparent that she would never regain consciousness, and Congress declared her seat vacant by resolution in February 1981. Hoyer narrowly won a crowded seven-way Democratic primary, beating Spellman's husband Reuben by only 1,600 votes. He then defeated a better funded Republican, Audrey Scott, in the May 19 special election by 56%-44%, earning himself the nickname of "boy wonder". In the 1982 general election, Hoyer won re-election to his first full term with 80% of the vote. He has only faced one relatively close contest since then, when he defeated future Governor of MarylandLarry Hogan with just 55% of the vote in 1992. His second worst performance was his 1996 bid against Republican State Delegate John Morgan, when he won re-election with 57% of the vote.
- Domestic issues
- Social Issues: Hoyer is pro-choice on abortion rights. He voted against the Partial-Abortion ban bill in 2003. Hoyer supports affirmative action and LGBT rights.
- Gun Rights: He is rated F by the NRA, indicating a pro-gun control voting record.
- Privacy: In 2008, Hoyer said he opposed providing immunity to telecom companies, but then negotiated a bill, described by Senators Patrick Leahy and Russ Feingold as a "capitulation", that would provide immunity to any telecom company that had been told by the Bush administration that their actions were legal. “No matter how they spin it, this is still immunity,” said Kevin Bankston, a senior lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy rights group that has sued over President Bush's wiretapping program. "It’s not compromise, it’s pure theater."
- Health Care: In a 2009 USA Today opinion piece regarding healthcare reform, Steny Hoyer wrote that "Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American."
- Taxes: In June 2010, Hoyer brought up the idea that Congress would extend only temporarily middle-class tax cuts that were set to expire at the end of the year, suggesting that making them permanent would cost too much. President Obama wants to extend them permanently for individuals making less than $200,000 a year and families making less than $250,000.
- Foreign issues
- India: Hoyer supports civilian nuclear cooperation with India.
- Iraq: Hoyer initially supported the Iraq War and was even recognized by the DLC for his vocal leadership on this issue. After the war became publicly unpopular, Hoyer said he favored a "responsible redeployment". However, he has repeatedly supported legislation to continue funding for the war without deadlines for troop withdrawal, most recently in return for increased funding of domestic projects.
- Israel: Hoyer is a supporter of Israel, and has often been allied with American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In September 2007, he criticized Rep. Jim Moran for suggesting that AIPAC "has pushed (the Iraq) war from the beginning", calling the comment "factually inaccurate".
- Iran: Hoyer has stated that a nuclear Iran is "unacceptable" and that the use of force remains an option.
- Human Rights: Hoyer is a former chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
- Syria: Hoyer supports former President Obama's call for authorizing limited but decisive military action in response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons.
On February 28, 2014, Hoyer introduced the bill To amend the National Law Enforcement Museum Act to extend the termination date (H.R. 4120; 113th Congress) into the United States House of Representatives. The bill would extend until November 9, 2016, the authority of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit organization, to construct a museum on federal lands within the District of Columbia honoring law enforcement officers.
Hoyer is a prolific fundraiser for House Democrats. He has been the top giver to fellow party members in the House. In the 2008 election cycle, he contributed more than $1 million to the party and individual candidates as of July 14, 2008.
In March 2007, the Center for Public Integrity reported that Hoyer's political action committee "raised nearly $1 million for congressional candidates [in the 2006 election cycle] by exploiting what experts call a legal loophole." The Center reported the following:
Campaign finance disclosure records show that the Maryland Democrat used his leadership political action committee — AmeriPAC — as a conduit to collect bundles of checks from individuals, and from business and union interests. He then passed more than $960,000 along to 53 House candidates and another quarter of a million to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, data compiled from the Center for Responsive Politics Web site show. Federal law generally prohibits political action committees, including leadership PACs, which are run by politicians, from receiving more than $5,000 each year from a single donor or giving more than $10,000 to a single candidate ($5,000 each for the primary and the general election). But Hoyer collected as much as $136,000 from one labor union committee and distributed more than $86,000 to a single Congressional race.
The only media to cover the report, the Capital News Service, quickly pointed out how common and legal the practice is:
"That's like saying somebody who deducts mortgage interest on their taxes is exploiting a tax loophole," said Nathaniel Persily, a campaign finance expert and University of Pennsylvania Law School professor. "What exactly is the problem?"
"Bundling is very common," said Steve Weisman, of the George Washington University's Campaign Finance Institute.What Hoyer, a lawyer, did was perfectly legal, the Federal Election Commission said, too. In fact, his insistence on detailed reporting made tracking the funds easier.
Fifth District Congresswoman Gladys Spellman fell into a coma three days before the 1980 election. She was reelected, but it soon became apparent that she would never regain consciousness, and Congress declared her seat vacant by resolution in February 1981. Hoyer narrowly won a crowded seven-way Democratic primary, beating Spellman's husband Reuben by only 1,600 votes. He then defeated a better funded Republican candidate in the May 19 special election, earning himself the nickname of "boy wonder". He won the seat for a full term in 1982 and has been reelected 14 times with no substantive opposition, and is the longest-serving House member from southern Maryland ever.
Hoyer has served as chair of the Democratic Caucus, the fourth-ranking position among House of Representatives Democrats, from 1989 to 1994; the former co-chair (and a current member) of the Democratic Steering Committee; and as the chief candidate recruiter for House Democrats from 1995 to 2000. He also served as Deputy Majority Whip from 1987 to 1989.
When David E. Bonior resigned as Minority Whip in early 2002, Hoyer ran but lost to Nancy Pelosi. After the 2002 midterm elections, Pelosi ran to succeed Dick Gephardt as Minority Leader, leaving the Minority Whip post open again. On November 14, 2002, Hoyer was unanimously elected by his colleagues in the Democratic Caucus to serve as the Minority Whip, the second-highest-ranking position among House Democrats.
Pelosi became the Speaker of the House in January 2007. Hoyer was elected by his colleagues to be House Majority Leader for the 110th Congress, defeating John Murtha of Pennsylvania by a vote of 149-86 within the caucus, despite Pelosi endorsing Murtha. Hoyer is the first Marylander to become Majority Leader. and became the highest-ranking federal lawmaker in Maryland history. In this post, Hoyer was the floor leader of the House Democrats and ranked second in the leadership after the Speaker who is the actual head of the majority party in the house.
The day after the 2010 midterms elections in which the Democrats lost control of the House, Hoyer had a private conversation with Pelosi and stated that he would not challenge her bid for Minority Leader (for Pelosi to remain Democratic House Leader). He ran for minority whip, but was challenged by outgoing Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (the top House Democrats want to remain in the leadership, but the minority party in the House has one less position). Hoyer is moderate while Pelosi and Clyburn are more liberal, and a significant number of Hoyer's would-be supporters in the House who were moderate and conservative Democrats had been defeated for re-election. The Congressional Black Caucus backed Clyburn, while 30 House Democrats have supported Hoyer, and Hoyer has also raised money and campaigned for many candidates. Hoyer received further support from outgoing Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman, Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, and outgoing Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman Pelosi intervened in the contest by supporting Hoyer as Minority Whip, while creating an "Assistant Leader" position for Clyburn which would keep him as the third-ranking Democrat in the House behind Pelosi and Hoyer (the existing "Assistant to the Leader" post formerly held by Chris Van Hollen is not officially part of the House leadership and was directly appointed by the Minority Leader).
|1981||Congress, 5th district||Special||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||42,573||55.81||Audrey Scott||Republican||33,708||44.19|
|1982||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||83,937||79.58||William Guthrie||Republican||21,533||20.42|
|1984||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||116,310||72.18||John Ritchie||Republican||44,839||27.82|
|1986||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||82,098||81.93||John Sellner||Republican||18,102||18.07|
|1988||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||128,437||78.63||John Sellner||Republican||34,909||21.37|
|1990||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||84,747||80.66||Lee Breuer||Republican||20,314||19.34|
|1992||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||113,280||55.0||Larry J. Hogan, Jr.||Republican||92,636||45.0|
|1994||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||98,821||58.81||Donald Devine||Republican||69,211||41.19|
|1996||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||121,288||56.92||John S. Morgan||Republican||91,806||43.08|
|1998||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||126,792||65.37||Robert Ostrom||Republican||67,176||34.36|
|2000||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||166,231||65.09||Thomas Hutchins||Republican||89,019||34.86|
|2002||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||137,903||69.27||Joseph Crawford||Republican||60,758||30.52|
|2004||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||204,867||68.67||Brad Jewitt||Republican||87,189||29.93||Bob Auerbach||Green||4,224||1.42|
|2006||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||168,114||82.69||Steve Warner||Green||33,464||16.46||Write Ins: P.Kuhnert and Other||635||1,110||0.86|
|2008||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||253,854||73.6||Collins Bailey||Republican||82,631||24.0||Darlene Nicholas||Libertarian||7,829||2.3|
|2010||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||143,620||64.3||Charles Lollar||Republican||79,122||35.6||H. Gavin Shickle||Libertarian||2,399||1.1|
|2012||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||238,618||69.4||Tony O'Donnell||Republican||95,271||27.7||Bob Auerbach||Green||5,040||1.5||Arvin Vohra||Libertarian||4,503||1.3|
|2014||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||144,725||64.0||Chris Chafee||Republican||80,752||35.7||Write-ins||563||0.2|
|2016||Congress, 5th district||General||Steny Hoyer||Democratic||242,989||67.4||Mark Arness||Republican||105,931||29.4||Jason Summers||Libertarian||11,078||3.1||Write-ins||606||0.2|
Hoyer has three daughters, Anne, Susan, and Stefany from his marriage to Judy Pickett Hoyer, who died in 1997. In 2012, after Hoyer announced his support of same-sex marriage, his daughter Stefany Hoyer Hemmer came out as a lesbian in an interview with the Washington Blade.
His wife was an advocate of early childhood education, and child development learning centers in Maryland have been named in her honor ("Judy Centers"). She also suffered from epilepsy, and the Epilepsy Foundation of America sponsors an annual public lecture in her name. Hoyer, too, has been an advocate for research in this area, and the Epilepsy Foundation presented him in 2002 with their Congressional Leadership Award.
Hoyer serves on the Board of Trustees for St. Mary's College of Maryland and is a member of the board of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a nonprofit that supports international elections. He is also an Advisory Board Member for the Center for the Study of Democracy.
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