By Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) - 09/19/12 11:07 PM EDT
With Congress set to go home this week to focus on the upcoming election, Republicans in control of the House are leaving behind a long list of unfinished business. After two years in charge, House Republicans have not taken action on comprehensive jobs legislation to get Americans back to work, they have not prevented a tax increase on middle-class families, they have not worked to enact a big and balanced plan to reduce the deficit and turn off the sequester, and they have not passed major legislation, including a farm bill, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, or postal reform. Having racked up a dismal record as the “Do Nothing Republican Congress,” their failure even to try addressing the serious challenges we face as a nation has been strikingly disappointing.
Instead of taking bipartisan action to move our country forward, House Republicans have chosen partisan, political messaging over progress every time. While President Obama and House Democrats have both put forward comprehensive jobs plans based on bipartisan ideas, neither has seen the light of day in the House, as Republicans have blocked the president’s American Jobs Act outright and refused to work with Democrats on nearly all of our Make It In America legislation.
At the same time, goaded by their extreme Tea Party wing, House Republicans brought our nation to the brink of default on our debt last August, the result of which was the first credit downgrade in U.S. history. Again and again, Republicans have attached controversial, partisan measures to must-pass legislation in order to grind Congress to a halt. In doing so, they have risked letting taxes go up for small businesses and middle-class families by failing to pass an extension that both sides agree on, and they have played a dangerous game with the unemployment insurance on which those hardest hit by the recession currently rely.
It’s not that they don’t have the time to pursue policies that move our country and economy forward. They’ve simply been too focused on defeating the president and Democrats at any cost. On the eve of the election in 2010, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) revealed the GOP’s true priority: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Not to create jobs or get our deficits under control. Not to make America stronger and more respected around the world. Their No. 1 goal was a political defeat for Obama and his party.
House Republicans have engaged a strategy of torpedoing everything the president and Democrats have sought to pass, even if based on bipartisan ideas and regardless of whether it would benefit the country.
During this time of great challenges, Americans want a government that works for them. The American people might not hold Congress in the highest esteem, but when it comes to solving our nation’s problems, they believe Congress has a responsibility to do everything we can to do so.
In spite of this unprecedented obstruction by Republicans, Democrats have been working tirelessly to put forth solutions that will help our businesses create jobs, keep taxes low for middle-class families and small businesses, increase opportunities to achieve the American Dream, and set our fiscal house in order through a balanced approach to deficit reduction. While Obama has taken the steps he can to alleviate the burden on our middle class, House Democrats have laid out an agenda of what Congress could accomplish if it set itself to the task.
Voters face a stark choice this November: a Congress mired in gridlock by those who put partisanship first, or a Congress that focuses on achieving results.
That is why I believe Americans will return Democrats to the House majority this fall. For two years, they have watched House Republicans ignore the middle class to focus on a partisan, ideological agenda. They’ve seen Republicans fail to take action on job creation and instead focus on protecting the wealthy at all costs. That vision will be rejected by voters in November.
Millions of Americans out of work are trying hard to find jobs, and millions of families hit hard by the recession are doing all they can to make it through. They deserve a Congress just as committed to their success as they are themselves — a Congress that puts Americans, not politics, first.
Hoyer serves as the House Democratic whip.