Hoyer: Bipartisanship Does Not Mean Capitulation

Posted January 27, 2009 at 2:51pm

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday fired back at GOP leaders who continue to slam Democrats for being too partisan in crafting the $825 billion stimulus bill being debated this week.

“Being bipartisan does not mean having to lay down and say we’ll do whatever you want,” Hoyer said. “Bipartisan is not limited … to a hard faction of the Republican Party that happens to reside in the House of Representatives.”

Bipartisanship, Hoyer said, is “saying we’ll talk, we’ll figure it out, and if we can agree, we’ll agree.” He noted that Democrats will allow Republican amendments and a GOP substitute to the measure, set for a House vote on Wednesday.

President Barack Obama has been meeting with Congressional Republicans Tuesday to try to build support for the package. But Obama’s visit comes hours after House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) urged his Conference to oppose the bill as it’s currently written — a move that Hoyer said was in bad form.

It is “very unfortunate” that before meeting with Obama, Boehner “set the stage [by saying], ‘Yeah, you’re coming up here, but we’re voting against you,’” Hoyer said.

The Majority Leader said he has faith in Obama’s ability to bring people together on the package because he is “very persuasive.” But when asked whether he expects GOP support for the bill, Hoyer replied, “I hope. Expect would be too strong a word.”

Hoyer noted that he has talked to “a number of Republicans” who think it’s a mistake for House Republicans to unify as a Conference against the bill.

House GOP leaders have “taken a political stance. They’ve taken [the stance that their] party is going to oppose it. I think that’s unfortunate,” Hoyer said. “It takes two parties and two groups to be bipartisan. Bi means two, at least.”