Statement ● Extending Assistance for Unemployed Americans
For Immediate Release: 
February 28, 2014
Contact Info: 

Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) urged House Republicans to act to raise the minimum wage, renew unemployment insurance, and pass comprehensive immigration reform during a colloquy with Majority Leader Eric Cantor today.  Below are excerpts from the colloquy and a link to the video:

Click here to watch the video.

"I want to comment on one of the statements [Majority Leader Cantor] made, which I agree, in which, Mr. Speaker, he just told us, again I agree: 'America doesn't work if middle class families are taking home less.' I would urge him, consistent with that statement, in recognition of the fact that America works better when working families are making better wages, that we would hope the minimum wage could be brought to the Floor. As the gentleman I'm sure knows, in 2013 dollars, the minimum wage would now be $10.57, if it were at the same level it was over 40 years ago in 1968. The minimum wage has eroded very substantially in its purchasing power and its ability to give middle class families, as you say, in America, a decent take home pay. We believe both the minimum wage and unemployment insurance extension for the 1.8 to two million people who have lost that safety net is both hurting the economy and obviously hurting families. So we agree very strongly with the gentleman's statement. Obviously the bills he refers to, he believes will also have an effect on this issue but I would hope that you would seriously consider bringing the minimum wage and unemployment insurance to the Floor. We believe, although frankly I don't have a precise count on your side of the aisle which I'm sure does not shock you, that both of those bills would have the votes on this Floor as the Speaker has indicated, to work its will and to pass those pieces of legislation. So I would hope the gentleman would consider that."

"Lastly, Mr. Speaker, let me discuss a bill that we believe will help the economy greatly. Chamber of Commerce believes it will help the economy greatly. Farm owners believe it will help the economy. It's the broadest coalition that I have seen in the country on an issue in many respects. Evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Jews, other faiths, all have said, 70-plus percent of America says we ought to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Mr. Speaker, the Speaker, Speaker Boehner came forth with some principles in my state just a few weeks ago for moving forward on that comprehensive immigration reform. We were very positively impressed with those principles. We may not have agreed on every jot and tittle of the suggestions, but we thought it was a very good basis to move forward and have a discussion and bring comprehensive immigration reform to the Floor. As Tom Donohue said was absolutely essential - Tom Donohue, the President of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America. So that I would hope that, Mr. Leader, and Mr. Speaker, that we could bring that to the Floor, have a debate, have consideration of it. My view is it has the votes in the people's House to pass if it were brought to the Floor. I would hope that that could be done."