For Immediate Release:
December 31, 2020
Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
To: Editors, Editorial Writers, ReportersFrom: House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer
Re: House Democrats’ Record of Results in the Majority in the 116th Congress
Date: December 31, 2020
In 2018, House Democrats ran on a platform of governing responsibly For the People and addressing the most pressing challenges facing our country. We won the House Majority for the 116th Congress on pledges to clean up government, defend access to affordable health care, lower prescription drug costs, and support policies that create jobs and bring greater economic security to American workers and their families.
Over the past two years, House Democrats have resoundingly delivered on each of these promises.
Governing Responsibly For the People
From opening day of the 116th Congress, the Democratic House Majority has worked to govern responsibly for the people we serve, renew their faith in government, and put power back in the hands of the American people. This began with passage of H.R. 1, the For The People Act, comprehensive government reform legislation that makes it easier for Americans to vote, puts in place national redistricting reform, makes our campaign finance system more accountable and transparent, and institutes stronger ethics rules for public officials.
Democrats also began governing with an ironclad commitment to ensuring that the House would no longer be responsible for the kind of damaging government shutdown that the previous Republican Majority and President Trump left us when the 116th Congress began. Among the first actions of our new Majority was to pass legislation ending the Trump-Republican shutdown and restoring critical services to the American people. Later, we secured a two-year agreement on funding levels that helped avoid another shutdown and provide greater certainty to federal agencies in preparing their budget requests.
In the two years since, the Democratic-led House passed legislation to fund nearly all of government before the end of July, well in advance of the end of the fiscal year, doing its part to keep government open, with bills that invested in our nation’s immediate needs as well as its long-term growth and security. This year, while the Senate failed to consider even a single appropriations bill in committee and slowed down the process considerably, the House passed an omnibus funding measure on December 21 to ensure that the next Congress will not convene under the cloud of a shutdown but ready to get to work on appropriations for Fiscal Year 2022.
Recognizing that the people’s representatives must be able to do their job For the People, even in a pandemic, the House adopted H.Res. 965 in May to ensure that committees could work remotely and that Members could vote by proxy on the Floor using a secure and verifiable system. Under the provisions of that resolution, the House continued its pace of work and passed major legislation through the summer, autumn, and winter while protecting the safety of Capitol Hill workers, staff, Members, and constituents in districts across the country.
Defending Access to Health Care & Lowering Prescription Drug Costs
Keeping our promises to the American people, the Democratic House Majority in the 116th Congress has passed several major pieces of legislation to protect Americans’ access to high-quality, affordable health care and to lower prescription drug prices. In 2019, after amending the House rules to allow for a robust defense of the Affordable Care Act in court, we passed H.R. 986 to safeguard coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. This year, we passed H.R. 1425, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act, to strengthen the health care reforms Democrats enacted ten years ago by encouraging states to expand Medicaid coverage and undoing much of the sabotage of our health insurance markets in which the Trump Administration engaged over the past four years. Building on that progress, the House took action this month on H.R. 3630, the No Surprises Act, to protect patients from surprise bills by removing them from the fight between insurers and providers and implementing a fairer process for the resolution of disputes.
House Democrats also passed H.R. 987, a package of seven bills, to lower prescription drug costs and H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, last year. These bills reflect Americans’ wide support for making it easier for Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, particularly for insulin and other life-sustaining medications, and reducing out-of-pocket caps for patients. H.R. 3 would, additionally, allow private insurers to cover the cost of medications at the same lower prices negotiated by Medicare – and it would reinvest more than $500 billion of savings in Medicare for dental, hearing, and vision benefits as well as opioid addition treatments and research.
Making Our Economy Work For the People
Over the past two years, House Democrats have passed legislation to strengthen our economy and help our workers and businesses Make It In America. In addition to voting to raise the minimum wage gradually to $15 an hour last year – and provide a pay raise for up to 33 million Americans – we also passed H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work. Additionally in 2019, the House passed H.R. 1994, the SECURE Act, to make it easier for workers to save for retirement, as well as H.R. 397, the Butch Lewis Act, to protect the retirement savings of millions who contributed to multi-employer pension funds. Taking action to safeguard consumers, the Democratic House Majority also passed H.R. 1500, the Consumers First Act, to help prevent financial scams and other predatory activity targeting Americans.
Recognizing that global trade and exports are critical to the growth of good jobs here at home, the House worked with the Senate to enact a seven-year reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which helps American businesses compete on a level playing field in foreign markets. When President Trump presented his U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement to Congress, the Democratic House Majority won the fight for critical changes that protect American workers, ensure the agreement is enforceable, promote our exports, and attract new investment to our country that creates good jobs.
This year, we followed those action with passage of H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which affirms workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively for better pay and benefits. In July, the House approved a major infrastructure bill, H.R. 2, to move America forward by investing billions of dollars in repairs, upgrades, and new networks to connect American businesses, workers, and consumers and facilitate exports that drive economic growth. In September, we passed H.R. 4447, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, which will help American manufacturers seize new opportunities to take the lead in the new global clean-energy economy, creating millions of good jobs for our workers. Also that month, the House approved H.R. 2694, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, to ensure that women who are pregnant are not discriminated against in the workplace. In November, the House passed H.R.8294, the National Apprenticeship Act, to create nearly one million additional apprenticeship opportunities by 2025 and help more of our people make it in America. In December, the House and Senate reached agreement on a historic energy package that will incorporate many of the provisions of H.R. 4447 and go a long way toward promoting job creation through American leadership in clean-energy innovation.
Meeting the Challenges of a Global Pandemic
From the earliest days of COVID-19 becoming a global pandemic, the Democratic-led House took the initiative to protect the American people. On March 4, the House passed H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, investing an initial $8.3 billion to help federal agencies take steps to meet this new and uncertain threat. Just days later, as our nation gained a better understanding of the scope of the pandemic’s challenge, the House took a further step, joining the Senate in enacting H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This legislation ensured that Americans would not have to pay out of pocket for COVID-19 testing and could take paid sick leave to care for themselves or loved-ones who contract the disease. On March 28, the House took yet another major action by passing H.R. 784, the CARES Act, to fund additional testing and research into treatments and vaccines while addressing the economic impacts of the pandemic. The CARES Act created the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses keep their workers on payroll, provided for emergency expanded unemployment benefits, and distributed direct stimulus payments to American households.
When it became clear that Americans were going to need more help than what was included in the CARES Act, the House passed H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, in April, followed by H.R. 6800, the Heroes Act, in May. The Heroes Act would have sent direct assistance to state and local governments to help them keep teachers, law enforcement, sanitation workers, and other critical public employees from being laid off during the pandemic. It would also have extended the emergency unemployment benefits and provided more funding for hospitals and public health facilities on the front lines of the pandemic. After the Republican-led Senate refused to vote on the Heroes Act for months and allowed the expanded emergency unemployment benefits to expire, the House passed an updated version of the Heroes Act in October in an effort to compromise. Again, Republicans did nothing. On December 21, the House and Senate reached agreement and passed a COVID-relief package that included expanded unemployment benefits, direct stimulus payments to Americans, relief for renters, and additional funding for global vaccination efforts, among many important provisions. A week later, the House passed the H.R. 9051, the CASH Act, to increase the amount of the stimulus payments to $2,000.
On June 26, the House passed three bills to help prevent evictions and foreclosures and to keep child-care workers from losing their incomes during the pandemic. H.R. 7301, H.R. 7027, and H.R. 7327 were all critical components of House Democrats’ robust response to COVID-19 and the economic hardships it brought to millions of Americans.
Answering the Call for Justice, Civil Rights, and Equality
One of the early pieces of legislation the House passed in the 116th Congress was H.R. 5, the Equality Act, banning discrimination against LGBTQ Americans nationwide. This long-overdue legislation would end legal discrimination in housing, education, employment, finance, and other areas. It would also prohibit denying individuals the right to use facilities according to one’s gender identity. This year, the House passed H.J. Res. 79 to affirm our view that the Equal Rights Amendment has been duly ratified, banning discrimination on the basis of sex.
In February of this year, the House passed H.R.35, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, at long last making lynching a federal hate crime. After the horrific killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other African Americans at the hands of law enforcement acting improperly, the Democratic House Majority took swift action, passing H.R. 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. This legislation included major reforms to root out systemic bias in police departments, including bans on chokeholds and no-knock warrants.
To address persistent inequalities that have become serious barriers to justice and opportunity, the House passed H.R. 3884, the MORE Act, to decriminalize recreational marijuana and create a process by which those who had been convicted of nonviolent cannabis offenses can have their records expunged.
The Democratic House Majority in the 116th Congress has made protecting the right to vote one of the centerpieces of our agenda, recognizing that too many eligible voters are still denied the ability to participate in our elections. In the first weeks of our Majority, the House passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which included key voting rights provisions. Among them were automatic voter registration, the restoration of voting rights for those who paid their debts to society, and a prohibition on nefarious practices like the purging of voter rolls and discriminatory voter-ID rules. Later in 2019, the House passed H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, to restore the full protections of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, part of which had been struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. The House also took the long-overdue action of voting to admit the District of Columbia as a state and secure full representation for its 700,000 residents.
The Democratic House Majority has been working since day-one to secure the right to vote against threats both at home and from abroad. Responding to efforts by Russia and other adversaries to interfere with and undermine our democracy in 2016, the House passed H.R. 2722, the SAFE Act, and H.R. 4617, the SHIELD Act, last year. After the COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges to voting in person, the House passed H.R. 8015, the Delivering for America Act, to provide the U.S. Postal Service with emergency funding to handle the expected record number of mail-in ballots for the 2020 election. That legislation also would have reversed the Trump Administration’s efforts to slow down mail delivery in an effort to prevent ballots from being received in time to be counted.
Last year, when news emerged of President Trump’s attempts to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election and subvert our democracy, the Democratic-led House investigated and, upon finding clear evidence of his abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, approved articles of impeachment. Though the Senate failed to do its job and uphold the Constitution, House committees have continued to conduct thorough oversight of the Trump Administration and hold it accountable to the American people.
Addressing the Global Climate Crisis & Preserving America’s Natural Bounty
Throughout the 116th Congress, the Democratic House Majority has made it a priority to push back against the Trump Administration’s refusal to recognize the global climate crisis, which placed the health and economic security of our children and grandchildren at grave risk. Beginning with the creation of a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and with passage of H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act, in May 2019, the House made it clear that it supports rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and restoring its ambitious goals. Last year, the House passed a number of bills aimed at conserving public lands and protecting vulnerable ecosystems, such as the John Dingell Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which created an independent and sustainable funding source for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. We also approved H.R. 1941, the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act, to ban drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and H.R. 205, the Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act, to do the same in certain parts of the Gulf of Mexico. They were accompanied by passage of H.R. 1146, the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act, to prohibit fossil fuel exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The House also secured bipartisan agreement to enact legislation amending the Stafford Act to help communities in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the mainland United States rebuild stronger in the aftermath of natural disasters.
This year, we built on that work by passing H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act, to help remove some of the most toxic pollutants from our water and partnering with the Senate to enact a major reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). We were also able to secure agreement to enact the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act and the landmark H.R. 1957, the Great American Outdoors Act.
Protecting Dreamers & Keeping Families Together
House Democrats have worked hard this Congress to meet our responsibility to the Dreamers who were brought here as children and often have no memory of living in a country other than the United States. At risk of being deported to unfamiliar lands and separated from their family members who are American citizens, these Dreamers have been looking to Congress for help, particularly after President Trump tried to end the DACA program. In June 2019, the House passed H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, which would not only provide peace of mind and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers but do the same for refugees holding T.P.S. and D.E.D. status. The House also took action to extend T.P.S. status for those fleeing tyranny, violence, and economic hardship in Venezuela resulting from the Maduro regime.
Also in 2019, the House responded to revelations of inhumane conditions at immigrant detention facilities by passing three bills requiring better care and medical treatment for detainees: H.R. 3239, H.R. 3670, and H.R. 3525. This year, we passed H.R. 5581, the Access to Counsel Act, to ensure that refugees brought before immigration courts seeking asylum have access to an attorney. And, in response to President Trump’s shameful, discriminatory travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries, we passed H.R. 2214, the NO BAN Act, to restrict the President’s authority to impose blanket travel bans based on one’s nation-of-origin.
Caring for America’s Veterans
The Democratic House Majority has worked hard to ensure that the 116th Congress is meeting its commitment to those who served our country. Last year, we passed several major bills to ensure that veterans can access high-quality health care close to home, to reduce veteran suicide and homelessness, and to improve access to education and training for in-demand job skills. We also passed legislation expanding health care benefits for those exposed to Agent Orange. The House took action to make it easier for veterans with young children to access care at V.A. facilities through H.R. 840, the Veterans Access to Child Care Act. In addition, we approved H.R. 3224, the Deborah Sampson Act, in November 2019 to ensure that women veterans can access high-quality medical care at V.A. facilities without undue barriers.
This month, the House secured agreement with the Senate to send H.R. 7105 to the President’s desk, which includes H.R. 840 and H.R. 3224 along with additional provisions to increase benefits for women veterans and Native American veterans while addressing veteran homelessness. Specifically, it will help lower incidents of sexual assault at V.A. facilities, fund new health spaces dedicated to women’s health care, and require every V.A. health care facility to hire a dedicated women’s health provider. The bill creates an advisory committee to ensure that the V.A. considers the unique challenges facing veterans living on tribal lands, and it mandates additional reporting of COVID-19 cases occurring at state-run veterans’ homes.
In 2019, the House demonstrated how America keeps its promises to those who serve our country and its communities. We eliminated the tax increase that Republicans imposed on Gold Star families as part of their 2017 tax scam, reaffirming our nation’s support for those who lost loved-ones in service under our flag. We also reauthorized the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund to ensure that first responders and others with health complications from the September 11, 2001, attacks can afford the treatment and care they need.
Keeping Americans Safe at Home and Abroad
For the past two years, the Democratic-led House has been doing its job responsibly to protect Americans from harm both at home and around the world. In both 2019 and 2020, we passed defense authorization bills that were bipartisan and reflect a commitment to our troops and the values they uphold. The House also passed a war powers resolution in 2019 to promote an end to the violent civil conflict in Yemen that has become one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. We also passed the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act in November 2019 to sanction Turkish officials responsible for the country’s incursion into Kurdish-held territory in Syria after President Trump abandoned our allies there. The Democratic House Majority has also continued to stand up for press freedom, voting on H.R. 2037, the Saudi Arabia Human Rights and Accountability Act, to disapprove of arms sales to Saudi Arabia after its murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. We also sanctioned China for its crackdown on freedom of expression and democracy in Hong Kong in 2019 and this year enacted legislation sanctioning Beijing officials for the human rights abuses directed at China’s Muslim Uighur minority.
At home, House Democrats in the 116th Congress have worked to provide for safer and more secure communities. We passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, in February 2019, responding to an epidemic of mass shootings ignored by the previous Republican Majority. That April, the House reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act for five years with key improvements to ensure that law enforcement can protect victims and protect women living on Native American sovereign lands, and encourage men and boys to play a role in preventing domestic violence and assault. Later in the year, we passed the Debbie Smith Act to help close the backlog of rape kit processing and secure justice for victims while deterring these horrific crimes.
Reflecting the Nation We Represent
With the most-diverse and most-female House Majority in history, Democrats were proud to lead a House that not only represents the American people responsibly but is focused on righting historical injustices and ensuring that all voices are heard in our democracy and in the story of our country. That’s why we passed H.R. 1636 last year to create a Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys, which would explore ways to remove persistent inequalities and to address bias that denies opportunities to African Americans. This year, the House passed H.R. 7573 to remove the bust of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the author of the horrific 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, from the U.S. Capitol’s Old Supreme Court Chamber. That legislation would also remove statues from the U.S. Capitol building of individuals who served the Confederacy during the Civil War and promoted slavery in the years that preceded it. Also in 2020, the House passed H.R. 1980 and H.R. 2420, which would create a Smithsonian Women’s History Museum and a National Museum of the American Latino, respectively. We also expressed the House’s strong and unwavering opposition to anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and racial hatred of all forms.
Preparing for the 117th Congress
The past two years have been a busy period of activity in the House, with our Democratic Majority working tirelessly to deliver on our promises. The legislation we passed – and our belief in governing responsibly – are a blueprint for what the House and the new Biden-Harris Administration can achieve to help Americans get ahead through access to opportunities, to ensure that our economy can build back better from COVID-19, to keep our country safe and secure, and to restore the soul and character of our nation as we work to heal divisions. House Democrats are ready to work with the next President to enact bills, like those we passed in the 116th Congress, that achieve our goals.
Even with all of the work we did over the past two years, more than 400 bipartisan House-passed bills were never acted on by the Republican Senate. The composition and outlook of the Senate in the 117th Congress will be critical to securing key victories for the American people, and House Democrats will do everything in our power to continue governing responsibly and seeking opportunities to reach agreements that enact our agenda and deliver For the People.