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« No "Silver Bullet" In Obama Jobs Speech | Blog Home Page | KS Sen Poll: Moran +3 »

Hoyer Calls Out 'Party of No'

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called on Republicans in the House and Senate to step up to the historical standard of bipartisanship and begin debating major pieces of legislation in good faith.

"One of our two great parties is now an organization committed to an unprecedented level of lockstep opposition to the president," said Hoyer. "A 'Party of No,' whose political strategy is an investment in failure for our country and paralysis for its institutions."

In a 30-minute speech yesterday to the Center for American Progress, Hoyer cited a number of instances in which both parties in the last half-century worked toward compromise on major legislation: civil rights in 1964, Medicare in 1965, Social Security in 1983, tax reform in 1986, No Child Left Behind in 2001. He also included environmental legislation under Richard Nixon, welfare reform under Bill Clinton and the 1956 interstate highway bill.

"No one expects Republicans to roll over for President Obama," said Hoyer. "But the 'Party of No' strategy is so disappointing because the history of Congress is full of loyal oppositions that shared responsibility for governing in trying times and shaped some of the most important legislation of their eras."

Hoyer's comments come as the Senate engages in bitter floor debate on comprehensive health care reform -- debate that has seen Republicans use tactical, parliamentary tools to slow the progress of the bill. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who is retiring at the end of next year and turned down the Commerce Secretary position in the Obama administration, became the face of the GOP's maneuvers when his memo to colleagues on how to slow debate was leaked to the press.

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said in an MSNBC interview yesterday that Republicans have used "91 different efforts to stop and slow down debate" this year.

House Republicans scoffed at Hoyer's comments. When reached for comment, the office of Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) directed RealClearPolitics toward a website that houses the GOP's alternatives to the Democrats' legislation for stimulating the economy, energy, health care and the budget (http://www.gop.gov/solutions).

"House Republicans have brought forth several plans to lower health care costs, create jobs and bring our fiscal house to order," Pence said in a statement to RCP. "Unfortunately, Democrats and the Administration have refused to work across party lines to create common-sense solutions that help our nation's hard-working families. Republicans will continue to put politics aside to move our country in the right direction."

While Hoyer admitted that Democrats have not been perfect, the speech centered on the failings of Republicans in the current Congress -- as opposed to Democrats and Republicans in years past that worked together to craft legislation.

"It is easy to understand why the Majority Leader is more eager to attack Republicans than defend his own Leadership's record," Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, said in a statement to RCP. "Every time out-of-touch Washington Democrats have chosen to go it alone on some liberal scheme this year, Republicans have offered a better solution, rooted in our principles. Democrats need to stop whining about us and actually get something done to help the American people."