Hoyer: Republican Majority Shutting Down Democratic Debate Again on Small Pox Compensation Fund

For Immediate Release:

March 31, 2003

Contact:Stacey Farnen
(202) 225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) released the following statement today regarding the House Republican Leadership’s refusal to allow a Democratic alternative to H.R. 1463, the Small Pox Vaccination Compensation Fund Act.   The Democratic alternative, introduced by Congresswoman Lois Capps and Congressman Henry Waxman, would better answer the concerns of health care workers and first responders with the President’s small pox vaccination program:

“The House Republicans are effectively silencing today the health care workers, police officers and firefighters who will be on the front lines of any type of domestic terrorist attack.

“This is simply the latest instance of the Republican majority shutting down debate and preventing Democrats from putting forth the views of the nearly 50 percent of America that we represent. 

“During the debate on issues important to this country from medical malpractice reform, to tax breaks for the men and women of the armed forces, to the AMBER Alert legislation to protect children from kidnappers, to protections for nurses and first responders the Republicans have shut the door on democracy in Congress.

“This is in contrast to the statements made by Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier in support of allowing alternatives, for instance on May 26, 1994, Chairman Dreier said: “I think that it is only proper and I think the constitution intends for members of either party, majority or minority, to have an opportunity to offer amendments that are germane to legislation before the House.   And I would say this: because of the numbers that I mentioned earlier, the majority party has the power to do what they want to do, but they do not have the right [emphasis added].”

“I am hopeful that the Republican Party will recognize the irony of shutting out half of America while we are fighting for democratic values abroad and put an end to the shut down of democratic debate.”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer was not able to attend today’s press conference on the smallpox vaccination compensation fund due to a scheduling conflict.

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