- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2014

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said Monday that if voters unhappy with gridlock in Washington should give Democrats the majority in the House, allowing President Obama and his party another chance to pursue their agenda.

The House’s No. 2 Democrat said there would be no more threats of government shutdowns or defaults under a Democratic-led House.

“If you don’t like what’s going on, elect a party that will work with the president to create a better economy and a more secure country,” the veteran Maryland lawmaker said in a speech at the National Press Club, laying out a Democratic post-election vision.

It’s unlikely Mr. Hoyer will get the chance to put his plans into action. Most prognosticators expect the GOP to keep its majority in the House and even to expand it in November’s midterm elections.

But Mr. Hoyer said he expects voters to decide they are weary of gridlock and vote to break it by giving Democrats complete control, which he said would bring more certainty.

Leaving the GOP majority intact would mean House lawmakers wouldn’t vote on Democratic priorities such as raising the minimum wage, cutting student loan payments and giving women new avenues to sue if they believe they face pay discrimination.

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One area where Mr. Hoyer said Democrats would take action is immigration, where the Democratic-led Senate passed a broad bill legalizing illegal immigrants in 2013, a measure that the House never took it up.

Mr. Hoyer did not mention that he and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not take the issue up in 2009 and 2010, the first two years of the Obama presidency, when Democrats had both a large majority in the House and a dominant majority in the Senate, as well.

Meanwhile, many of the issues Mr. Hoyer highlighted, such as raising the minimum wage, have stalled in the Senate thanks to GOP-led filibusters, and few expect that this year’s elections will change that.

Republicans argue the way out of gridlock is to give the GOP control of the Senate as well, which would free up hundreds of bills the House has passed but which Senate Democrats have blocked.

“House Republicans are focused on the American peoples’ top priority: helping grow our economy,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. “Washington Democrats have stood in the way, opposing dozens of House-passed bills to reduce regulations, increase the supply of American energy, and create more American jobs.”

Mr. Hoyer countered that if Republicans do win control of the Senate, they are unlikely to get much done because they will still have to face Mr. Obama, who holds the power of the veto.

“I think we’d see exactly what the American public abhors: more gridlock, more confrontation, more partisanship,” he said. “My urging to the American public would be elect people who are going to work with and cooperate with the president of the United States.”

Mr. Hoyer touted the success of past Democratic-majority Congresses, pointing to accomplishments like the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

He said the pace of legislation has dropped since 2011, when voters elected a split Congress.

“Theirs has truly earned the title of the do-nothing Congress,” Mr. Hoyer said. “The American people deserve a do-something Congress, in fact, they deserve a ‘do-the-right-thing Congress,’ which is exactly what House Democrats are ready to do by working across the aisle to achieve results.”

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