Hoyer: Give McCarthy and Scalise ‘Benefit of the Doubt’ on Leadership Process

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted September 12, 2014 at 11:04am

The House’s inability to pass an emergency border funding bill last month left critics on both sides of the aisle wondering whether the new members of the GOP leadership team, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, can bring order to an unruly conference  

But House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said to give the new guys some time.  

“I’m willing to give Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Scalise the benefit of the doubt,” Hoyer said in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program  set to air in full Sunday morning. “What we learned from that incident was, unfortunately, that Republicans did what they have done so often: Turned toward their far right, not toward consensus, not toward bipartisanship, in order to pass something through the House of Representatives,” Hoyer said on Thursday afternoon.  

He was recalling the strange turn of events last month , where a vote count crisis led leaders to make the underlying border funding measure more conservative, plus pair a vote on that bill with legislation to scale back a White House program granting stays of deportation to young undocumented immigrants brought into the country illegally by their parents.  

“Very frankly, what we need to do is meet and discuss and resolve, not simply to move toward the most radical part of the Republican Party to pass legislation,” Hoyer went on. “That’s what happened in that instance and I think that’s unfortunate, but I’m hopeful Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Scalise … who have both told me they want to try to work together, that they not only mean that — I believe they do — but that they can do that.”  

Hoyer said McCarthy, the former whip, and Scalise, a recent chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, have both expressed an interest in reaching across party lines.  

The first test of that resolve to have bipartisan cooperation, Hoyer continued, would play out over the next week . The House reconvenes Monday to start solidifying an agreement to fund the government past Sept. 30, while also juggling other priorities, like how much authority to give President Barack Obama as he seeks to arm Syrian rebels against the terrorist insurgents known as the Islamic State group.  

“It’s pretty soon to assess” how the relationship between the two party leadership teams is going so far, Hoyer allowed. “I’m hopeful in the next week that we start to forge …  a relationship.  

“I will tell you,” he said, “that Leader Pelosi and I, and other Democratic leaders, will be positive in our response if in fact we find a receptive audience.”