Press Release ● Coronavirus
For Immediate Release: 
December 24, 2020
Contact Info: 
Katie Grant Drew 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke at a press conference this morning after House Republicans blocked his unanimous consent request to increase Economic Impact Payments from $600 to $2000 in the bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill that passed Congress earlier this week. Below is a transcript of his remarks:

“Good morning. I am joined by today’s Speaker Pro Tempore, [Rep.] Debbie Dingell from Michigan; [Rep.] Filemon Vela from Texas; and [Rep.] Don Beyer from the state of Virginia. 2020 has been a challenging year for America, a challenging year for our people. A sad, sad, year as we lost over 330,000 of our fellow citizens to a pandemic caused by COVID-19.  

“Since March we have been attempting to respond appropriately and timely to the challenge not only to the health of the American people but also to the health of our economy and the extraordinary economic pain afflicted by COVID-19, in addition to the health challenge that it posed. We have passed a number of pieces of legislation. The first piece of legislation we passed was on March 14, that legislation passed 363-40. Shortly thereafter, some less than two weeks thereafter, we passed the CARES Act, passed in the House by voice vote, that was March 27. On April 23, we passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, 388-5. On May 15 we passed, because of the continuing challenge to health, safety, and to the economy, and jobs, and welfare to the American people, we passed the Heroes Act. Unfortunately, by that time Republicans had decided that they had done enough. That they should wait to see what would happen.  

“When we passed the Heroes Act, and we passed it through the House of Representatives on a partisan basis, 214-207, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, Republican Mitch McConnell, said ‘let the states go bankrupt.’  

“And the Leader of the Republican party in the House of Representatives [said]: ‘let’s wait and see.’ And of course, what we saw from March on was continuing death of our people, continuing challenge to our hospitals and our workers, and continuing devastation to our families from an economic perspective.  

“We urged the Republicans to come to the table with us. Speaker Pelosi talked to Secretary Mnuchin numerous times. But we could get no movement as our country continued to lose citizens as a result of COVID-19 and continued to have economic challenge.  

“So when we came back in September we passed another bill reducing the resources [that] we had dedicated to fighting the pandemic and uplifting the economy by 35 percent as an effort to reach compromise. That was unsuccessful. Now, at an hour far too late - but [its] never too late to do the right thing - we passed a very substantial piece of legislation just a few days ago in the House of Representatives. It passed the House of Representatives 359-53 on a bipartisan basis after very tough negotiations, prolonged negotiations, in which we urged substantially more investment in America's health and in America’s economy, but that was opposed. The deal that we made was a deal that we thought was appropriate in the sense that it had the votes to pass and, according to Republican leaders that I have talked to, had the representation from both Secretary Mnuchin and the President of the United States that he would sign the bill. He has still said that he won’t sign the bill and I urge him and hope that he will sign the bill.  

“Republicans had rejected proposals for stimulus checks in the bill that we passed and in previous bills. Last week, as I said, we reached a bipartisan agreement, we sent the bill to President Trump to sign, and only then, after we agreed on a figure we thought was too low for direct payments to families and children - $600 dollars – but the Republicans would not take a higher figure – only then did the President of the United States indicate that $600 was not enough. As a matter of fact, Secretary Mnuchin had indicated that the lower figure was appropriate. Believe it or not, Democrats agree with the President, at least to the extent that we need to sign this bill now. Six hundred is certainly not enough for individuals who have been struggling these past seven months and it isn’t enough to provide the boost our economy needs. President Trump, as I said on the Floor, on behalf of the Speaker and myself, I asked for unanimous consent to pass a bill which would have responded to the President’s request, but because we did not have the agreement of the Minority Leader - again, there are three people who can stop a unanimous consent by any one of them disagreeing, and I offered it on behalf of the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and myself, but it was not agreed to. Under the rules, all three of us had to agree. Two of us did, the Minority Leader did not. House Republicans rejected the unanimous consent request blocking that increase sought by Democrats and now also by President Trump. The American people need to know with certainty that Democrats are trying to get them higher stimulus payments.  

“This is Christmas Eve. Surely, the President of the United States - whether he is in Mar-a-Lago or any place else - ought to empathize with the pain and suffering and apprehension and deep angst that the American people are feeling this Christmas Eve and sign this bill. As we saw today, the Republicans in Congress and the White House can’t agree on what they want. Again, this bill passed overwhelmingly through the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. An entire COVID-19 relief package so desperately needed by our people and our businesses remains on the President’s desk and he could sign it today. 

“I urge the President to sign the bill we sent him so we can resume critical aid to small businesses, provide piece of mind to renters, resume expanded unemployment benefits, give food to those who are hungry, to assist our health care workers, to ensure that the vaccine is not just in vials but in arms. In sum, to make sure that the relief that the American people need and that the economy needs is adopted. 

“He needs to sign this bill to ensure that the government remains open and serving the American people as well. How ironic it would be to shut down the government at a time of pandemic crisis, the very time when government services are needed the most. No partisan politics. Put the people first. This bill is for the people, for the country. Sign this bill, Mr. President.”