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Hoyer: ‘Amazing’ that Republicans still win

Greg Nash

A frustrated Steny Hoyer wonders how the Democrats are losing elections to Republicans who can’t even unite around their own budget plan.

“It’s amazing that the American people elect a party that cannot function because of their divisions,” the Maryland Democrat told reporters Tuesday.

{mosads}Democrats’ frustration with the Republican infighting is nothing new, but Hoyer’s suggestion that the voters share the blame for the deadlocked Congress is one rarely uttered on Capitol Hill.

The House minority whip noted Republicans picked up seats in 2014, despite discord in their ranks and few legislative accomplishments, and he expressed hope that voters would reject the GOP’s “negativity” and side with the Democrats this time around.

“The Republicans did pretty well in the last election, notwithstanding the unproductivity and negativity and division in the Republican leadership on both the House and the Senate side,” Hoyer said.

“Given that, I would hope the American people [would come] to the conclusion — which would be the correct conclusion — that the Republican Party is not an effective body for accomplishing policy ends.”

After winning control of the House in 2006, the Democrats were clobbered just four years later and have been in the minority ever since.

Over that span, GOP leaders have struggled to pass government spending bills and other rudimentary proposals in the face of the ever-growing influence of the party’s conservative wing.

The infighting reached a crescendo last fall with the ouster of then-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who was pushed into retirement amid criticism that he was wasn’t fighting hard enough for conservative ideals.

Boehner’s replacement, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), has tried to mend internal fences by granting more power to committees and rank-and-file members. But Washington’s power structure — with President Obama in the White House and Senate Democrats wielding filibuster powers — remains unchanged, and Ryan is struggling this year to pass a number of his priorities.

The wish list includes a 2017 budget proposal and emergency legislation to help Puerto Rico manage its crumbling finances, both of which have been held up by conservative opposition.

Democratic leaders say they’re well aware of the pressures squeezing Ryan. But they’re also encouraging the Speaker to reach across the aisle sooner on the must-pass bills, which, in any case, must ultimately gain Democratic support to become law.

Hoyer on Tuesday said the Republicans’ strategy of delaying those bills is only exacerbating the problems they’re designed to address. He singled out the Puerto Rico bill — as well as efforts to address the Flint, Mich., water crisis, the Zika virus outbreak and opioid addiction — as proposals that would attract broad bipartisan support.

“I understand that the Speaker and the majority leader have real problems on their side of the aisle, which is not new,” Hoyer said. “But time is not the issue. We can get all of those done if we have the will to do so.”

Tags Boehner John Boehner Paul Ryan
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