House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) took aim at rival Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky yesterday and pounded him. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) right hand man hammered the Senate Majority Leader for holding regular Senate sessions during the pandemic and defended the use of House proxy voting to protect members and staff.
“Senator McConnell has ignored, in many respects, the advice of our health experts, the advice of the Capitol physician, the advice of Dr. Tony Fauci [and] the advice of the [White House coronavirus task force coordinator] Dr. [Deborah] Birx,” Rep. Hoyer claimed.
He also bashed Sen. McConnell for tabling the House’s $3 trillion emergency relief bill that will give struggling families another round of cash assistance, expand food aid and infuse states and local governments with money.
“The Heroes Act was passed … and we believe that it was a very necessary and very important piece of legislation,” he added. “It is sad that the Majority Leader of the United States Senate has dismissed it as dead on arrival. I would tell Senator McConnell there are too many people who had been dead as a result of the [outbreak].”
Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Hoyer who has represented southern Maryland since 1981, responded to attacks by McConnell on plans to let members vote without being physically present. “Proxy voting” has been opposed by Republicans, who say it’s unnecessary and reflects a procedural power grab by Democrats.
“I think that the political attacks are unjustified and will not have the effect he wants,” Hoyer told. “In fact, the polls show Republicans right now are vulnerable in the United States Senate. I think that’s what he’s really worried about, that I think we stand a good chance of taking back the majority of the United States Senate.”
“I see it as disingenuous,” Hoyer noted, saying the Senate uses “proxy” voting on a “regular basis” by passing bills with only a few members present by unanimous consent. “I see it as a political posture, without merit.”
Last week Leader McConnell clowned the House Democrats with his signature wry humor: “At this point, I’m wondering if we should send senators over there to collect their newspaper and water the plants.” Some levity is much needed.