Hoyer preps Dems for a partisan summer

Warning that Congress is in for a tough, partisan summer, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) this week urged House Democrats to form a united front against the GOP majority.

In a letter sent Monday to the members of his caucus, Hoyer asked the Democrats for "cooperation and coordination" as the party tries to forge a clear contrast between its policy priorities and a GOP agenda he characterized as "partisan" and "out-of-touch."

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"We must continue to call attention to House Republicans’ extreme, ideological agenda," he wrote, "and propose alternatives aimed at finding solutions to our most pressing problems of job creation and deficit reduction that most Americans can support."

Hoyer asked the lawmakers to focus their messaging on issues affecting the middle class, including the prevention of a rate hike for some student loans and the extension of the Bush-era tax rates for lower-income folks.

A united front, Hoyer wrote, will help Democrats "defeat the Republicans’ out-of-touch legislative program this summer and present alternatives that will deliver what the American people seek:  jobs for those out of work, a sensible solution to our deficits, and a pragmatic approach to the challenges facing our nation."

Hoyer's letter is a response to a memo rolled out last month by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) outlining the Republicans' schedule from Memorial Day to August. The GOP's agenda features proposals to eliminate federal regulations, expand oil and gas production on federal lands, extend the Bush-era tax rates for all income levels and repeal parts of President Obama's signature healthcare reform law – efforts highlighting the GOP's underlying philosophy that Washington can best help the economy by shrinking.

"Above all," Cantor wrote, "we must continue to focus on economic growth and small business—producing results that get Americans back to work."

Democrats, including Hoyer, have hammered the Republicans' agenda since its release, characterizing the proposals on-deck as giveaways to corporate and other well-heeled interests at the expense of the middle class.

"This agenda is a recipe not for progress but gridlock," Hoyer wrote Monday. "It chooses confrontation over cooperation or compromise."

Hoyer said the Democrats will also be pressing Republicans to enact legislation to reauthorize highway funding and the Violence Against Women Act.