Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks at a press conference with House Democratic freshmen calling for a vote this year on comprehensive immigration reform. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
“Thank you very much I appreciate it. Congressman Cardenas has been a leader on this issue, as have all the Members here.
“Let me tell you – he introduced me as the most senior freshman, which I’m honored to be a part of the freshman class, if you will. Let me tell you one thing about freshmen: they’re new, by definition. By definition, therefore, they need to keep in very close touch with their people because they haven’t had the experience of being reelected year after year. And so they are very in-tuned to what the public has to say. And I don’t mean the public on a segmented basis, I mean all the public.
“Poll after poll reflects the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans believe that comprehensive immigration reform is good for the country, it’s the right moral thing to do, it’s the right economic thing to do, it’s the right thing to do as an America that continues to lift its lamp beside the golden door. Why? Because that has made us so successful as a nation.
“I’m proud to join these outstanding Members to call for a comprehensive immigration reform bill without delay. The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill 68 to 32 – an overwhelming [majority], more than two thirds. You can shut down debate with 68 votes, that’s how big that majority is and was.
“Unfortunately, a Speaker who repeatedly said in 2009 and 2010 and 2011 and continues to say, Majority Leader continues to say, that he is committed to having the House work its will. We now have a bill that is sponsored by some almost 200 Members. It is very reflective of the bipartisan bill that was passed in the United States Senate.
“My view is, if that bill was put on the Floor, it would pass. Now that’s been my view of a number of other bills, and I was right. It was my view on the Violence Against Women Act, it was my view on the Sandy Relief Act – to try to help citizens who had been subjected to the ravages of nature. It was my view on some of the fiscal bills keeping the government open. One hundred and forty seven Republicans voted against keeping the government open but 87 voted for keeping it open and 198 Democrats voted for it, therefore it passed, very handily. I believe comprehensive immigration reform would do the same.
“I was very disappointed to read in today’s Roll Call, that according to Speaker Boehner, ‘We’ve made it clear that we’re going to move on a common sense, step-by-step approach in terms of how we deal with immigration’ however, he says “‘Frankly,’ GOP leaders have ‘no intention of ever going to conference’ with the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration overhaul bill, even if Republicans pass a bill of their own.” I’m not sure what that means in terms of democracy working, of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate and the Congress working.
“Less than 10 percent of Americans say the Congress is worth anything. I’m trying to find those 9 or 8 percent because they don’t know what’s happening. But the fact of the matter is how sad it is when the Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, farm workers, and growers all come together with hundreds of other groups and say this is good for our country, this is good for our economy, this is good for jobs, and yes, by the way, it is good for bringing down the deficit, which has a positive score.
“So I want to congratulate Congressman Cardenas, and all of his colleagues – I won’t name all of them, they’ll come to the podium if I shut up. But I want to congratulate them for raising high the banner of comprehensive immigration reform which is supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans. I believe that to be the case.
“And in that context, John Boehner and Eric Cantor ought to bring either the bill that we have introduced, the Senate bill, or for that matter, a bill that they introduce to the Floor of the United States Congress and let the House work its will on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform. Thank you very much for allowing me to participate.”