Hoyer Discusses the President's Budget, the Affordable Care Act, DC Voting Rights on The Kojo Nnamdi Show

WASHINGTON, DCCongressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5) discussed several issues, including President Obama’s 2016 Budget, House Republicans’ 56th vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and District of Columbia voting rights, on WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show this afternoon. Below are excerpts from the interview and a link to the audio.

Click here to listen to his interview on The Kojo Nnamdi Show.

On the President’s 2016 Budget Proposal
“…I think that the budget that he sent down to the Congress is a very real, positive budget from our perspective. It does away with the sequester, which I think is critically important. The sequester, as you know, is simply a cap, across the board cap on spending without reference to priorities...The President has made it very clear that a priority for us and our country ought to be that everybody, both who are in or aspiring to be in the middle class, has that opportunity…The budget does include continuing investment in the Metro system, which is critically important to our region. It provides for a 1.3% cost of living adjustment to try to keep up with inflation for our federal employees, which are critically important to our economy here in the Washington Metropolitan area…”

On House Republicans 56th Vote to Repeal the Affordable Care Act
No, I wasn’t {surprised about the vote}. I think we have a lot of new [Republican] Members who ran with the proposition that they were against the Affordable Care Act and they got elected. I think the Republican leadership felt they had to have a vote. What I do hope is that we don’t repeat this on a monthly basis because it’s clearly not going anywhere…”

On District of Columbia Voting Rights
“I have been a very strong supporter, Kojo as you know, of home rule. Worked very closely with Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of Columbia’s representative…. One of the blights on our American democracy, in my opinion, is that Eleanor Holmes Norton does not have full voting rights in the House of Representatives. Every other Parliament capital in the world, the free world, has a voting member of their Parliament or more.. One of the things that I did, was introduce a [bill], that was adopted by the Democrats, which allowed Eleanor and the five other representatives of the territories, Puerto Rico and others, to vote in the Whole House, as they can vote in the Committees in the House. I thought that was A, a show of respect and B, an opportunity for Members representing those six jurisdictions to put their vote up on the board and to show what they think about a policy. Unfortunately, the Republicans, as soon as they took over [in 2010], they repealed that rule, and refused again this year to adopt it. I think that was unfortunate. But I am hopeful that we will continue to have discussions…”

On the Voting Rights Act

“You know Kojo, we talk about voting. One of the things we ought to be doing very early on in this Congress is fixing in effect the hole in the Voting Rights Act that was put there by the Supreme Court recently. We need to make sure that we are recognizing the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. I will be going down to Selma in just a few weeks with [Congressman] John Lewis… We had a bipartisan bill in the last Congress, Jim Sensenbrenner and Democrats have joined in an effort to restore the viability and protections that were included in the Voting Rights Act that makes sure in our great democracy every person’s vote counts. And every person has the opportunity to register and vote and not be discriminated against by policies that marginalize their voting.”

On Anti-Discrimination Policy for LGBT Congressional Staff
Well, unfortunately, [LGBT Congressional staff] are not covered under the present rules. Race is covered, gender is covered, nationality is covered, religion, all of those are covered. But LGBT individuals are not covered, that is another arbitrary distinction that ought not to be a basis on which someone can be excluded from employment.… I urged the Rules Committee to amend the rules to add those protections for those that are in the LGBT community and unfortunately the Committee did not do that. I have now urged all of our Members on the Democratic side that they add those protections to their own office rules.”

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