Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) discussed House Democrats' 2014 legislative agenda on C-Span's "Newsmakers." Below are excerpts and a link to the video.
“If, in fact, we want to help the 1.3 million people who on December 28 lost their, in effect, safety net to keep food on their table and their family intact, then [Republicans need to] offer it.... The economy is getting better, that's the good news. The bad news is it's not getting good enough to have enough jobs available for job seekers. We have three job seekers for every job that is available. Obviously there are a lot of people that are working hard to find jobs, as they are required to do under unemployment insurance, but they have been unable to get them. We ought not to drop them through the floorboards so to speak.… We believe it is critically important to again extend this long-term unemployment safety net for 1.3 million people that grows by 72,000 people a week.”
“As you know, comprehensive immigration reform is very high up on the Democrats' agenda. It's an issue we think ought to be done this year in this Congress and it would make a tremendous moral difference in our country. It would help the economy. It is the right thing for us to do, which is why there is such a broader-based coalition supporting that. I think Speaker Boehner frankly sees that. I think he sees that his party needs to avoid being perceived by the immigrant community - whether they be Latin Americans, whether they be Asian, whether they be any other immigrant population - not be perceived as hostile to them. I think there is a political reason for [Republicans] to act. There are also moral reasons to act. We have introduced a bill with Democrats that has been supported on a bipartisan basis.… We think that is a bipartisan bill that could enjoy the support of the majority of the House if it were put on the Floor.… Hopefully Speaker Boehner is looking for ways to move his caucus forward on this issue.”
“Congress can certainly get something done if the Republicans are prepared to put on the Floor pieces of legislation that will enjoy bipartisan support, and will not simply be message bills as we dealt with last year. We are very hopeful that the unemployment insurance bill gets done, both short-term and long-term. We are very hopeful we will address comprehensive immigration reform. We think that can get done. And I think evidence of that is it got 68 votes [in the Senate]. It wasnt as if it was a partisan passed bill. They enjoyed broad, bipartisan support. I think they will enjoy bipartisan support in the House as well if it's put on the Floor. We'd like to see the minimum wage raised. Income inequality has been focused on by the President. We are focusing on that as well. We think that is a real challenge to America that we have the gulf between the rich and the middle-class, and the rich and the poor being as large as it has been in a very long time. We think that's not good. We would like to see ENDA passed, to end discrimination in employment. Again, this is a bill that passed with significant bipartisan support in the United States Senate. We see no reason why it couldn't be passed. If it was put on the Floor we think it would get bipartisan support. We think the Democrats would overwhelmingly vote for it and we think a significant number of Republicans would be for it. We'd like to see a greater investment in infrastructure and job creation. The American public thinks that ought to be our numer one priority. We would hope that those can be done. Those are just some of the issues that we would hope would be addressed and we can accomplish in the second session of the Congress.”
“I think what they're going to find is the Affordable Care Act is going to work. They're going to find that millions and millions of people have joined through the exchanges, gotten affordable, quality health care for themselves and their families. They're going to see millions of people who were added to the Medicaid rolls so they will not be coming to hospitals with the inability to have compensation for the hospitals. I think they are going to see millions and millions of people, as they have already, with pre-existing conditions able to get insurance. Frankly, if that is going to be an issue [in the elections] we are going to embrace it. We believe the Affordable Care Act is good for the country.”