Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor in opposition to a resolution to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress. Below are his remarks and a link to the video.
Click here to watch the video.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If this is a precedent, it is a bad precedent. It is a dangerous precedent. It is a precedent that we ought not to make. ‘Read the constitution,’ I heard, over and over and over again. I've read, probably, the opinions of twenty-five lawyers whom I respect from many great institutions in this country. None of whom – as I’m sure the Ranking Member has pointed out – none of whom believe that the precedent supports this action.
“Mr. Speaker, what a waste of the people's time for Congress to spend this week on politics and not policy. We are about to vote on a resolution that is really a partisan political message. Everyone here agrees – everyone – that the I.R.S. should never target anyone based on anything other than what they owe in taxes. Not their political beliefs or any other traits, other than their liability and their opportunity to pay their fair share to the United States of America. And, in fact, during the exhaustive investigation into the I.R.S., Chairman Issa's committee interviewed thirty-nine witnesses, analyzed more than 530,000 pages, and could not find the conspiracy they were looking for. That they always look for. That they always allege.
“$14 million of taxpayer money has already been spent on this investigation. And all that was found was that which we already knew: that the division led by Ms. Lerner suffered from fundamental administrative and managerial shortcomings that bore no connection to politics or to partisanship. Independent legal experts have concluded that Chairman Issa's efforts to hold Ms. Lerner in contempt of Congress is constitutionally deficient.
“This resolution before us today is, of course, not meant to generate policy, it's meant to generate headlines. Republicans once again are showing that they are more interested in partisan election-year gimmicks than working in a bipartisan way to tackle our country's most pressing challenges.
“We ought to turn to the important matters of creating jobs, raising the minimum wage, restoring emergency unemployment for those who are struggling to find work – issues the American people overwhelmingly support and want their Congress to address. I urge my colleagues to give this partisan resolution the vote it deserves and defeat it so we can turn to the people's business.
“In closing, let me say this, Mr. Speaker. There are 435 of us in this body. I urge all my colleagues: do not think about party on this vote. Think about precedent. Think about this institution. Think about the Constitution of the United States of America. And, if you haven't read, read some of the legal opinions that say you have to establish a predicate before you can tell an American that they will be held criminally liable if they don't respond to your questions. That's what this issue is about. Not about party. Not about any of us. But about the constitutional protections that every American deserves and ought to be given, and I yield back the balance of my time.”