Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
December 20, 2019
Contact Info: 
Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
To:        Editors, Editorial Writers, Reporters
From:   House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer
Re:        House Democrats’ First Year: A Record of Results
Date:    December 20, 2019

Overview

As the first year of the 116th Congress draws to a close, it caps the end of a busy year for the Democratic Majority, one that has seen a long list of legislative successes on behalf of the American people.  From the very start, our focus has been on achieving results For the People.

The Democratic-led House has passed more than 400 bills.  Over 275 bipartisan bills remain stuck on Senator Mitch McConnell’s desk, awaiting action by the Senate, which has refused to do its job. 

Even while the Senate stalls, House Democrats look ahead to the new year with the same commitment and energy to tackle the challenges facing our country.  We will not slow our pace.  Our Majority will keep its focus on enacting our agenda of a stronger and safer America, on economic growth, and on opportunity and justice for all.

Making Government Work For the People & Restoring Regular Order

From day one of the Democratic Majority, House Democrats worked to overcome gridlock and obstruction by the White House. We took the majority in the midst of an unprecedented thirty-five-day shutdown, and did not relent in passing bill after bill to reopen the government until we finally succeeded. In that context, I was committed to ensuring we would not find ourselves in such a crisis again. For the first time in over a decade, the House passed legislation to fund 96% of the government before the end of June.  That achievement made possible the bipartisan budget caps agreement in August and the ultimate passage of House and Senate appropriation bills in December to fully fund the government for the rest of Fiscal Year 2020.  This was an example of how the House, when allowed to operate through regular order and work its will, can get its job done For the People. 

This regular order was made possible by steps taken by the new Democratic Majority in January to open up the House and make its work more transparent and accountable and to promote inclusion and diversity among House staff.  Our rules package improved oversight and ethics, imposed commonsense budgeting principles, restored PAYGO rules, and made it easier for bipartisan measures to get votes on the House Floor. 

The first major bill House Democrats passed is intended to reform government and make it work for the people. H.R. 1, the For the People Act, is landmark legislation which would, among other things, enact comprehensive national redistricting reform, reduce the corrupting influence of money in our politics, and set higher standards of ethics and behavior for those entrusted with high office.  Its aim is to end the partisan gridlock that has paralyzed our government and diminished public trust in our institutions by making government work For the People once more.  This also included key provisions to expand voting rights, such as automatic voter registration, expanded early voting, and the creation of a national voter protection hotline. 

Achieving Bipartisan Victories For the People in 2019

Despite ongoing Republican obstruction, House Democrats have demonstrated that we can overcome that obstacle and work to enact a number of major bills this year. 

This spring, we approved a major lands bill, named in memory of the late Rep. John Dingell, that designated more than a million acres of protected wilderness, expanded the footprint of national parks, and permanently reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  In June, we provided additional supplemental aid to areas affected by natural disasters.  Our legislation also amended the Stafford Act to ensure that those rebuilding in the aftermath of a disaster can do so more resiliently and prevent future damage.  We reauthorized the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund in July to help first responders and others suffering from the health consequences of their heroism on September 11, 2001.  

In August, the House, Senate, and President worked together to raise budget caps for two fiscal years and help avert a government shutdown, also raising the debt limit for two years.  This week, under that agreement, the House, Senate, and Administration agreed to appropriations bills to fund the government for the remainder of this fiscal year.  Included in that legislation is a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which supports thousands of high-paying, export-driven manufacturing jobs across the country. Also included is the House-passed SECURE Act to help more workers save for a secure retirement and fix a provision included in the Republican tax scam that excessively taxes Gold Star families who lost loved ones in war. The SECURE Act had previously passed the House with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 417-3, only to languish in the Senate for months without action.

Also this week, the House approved legislation to implement a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that includes Democratic provisions to protect workers’ rights, promote American exports, and attract job-creating investment to our country, which the Senate is expected to take up next year. 

Additionally, the House recently joined the Senate in sanctioning China for its human rights violations in Hong Kong and effort to suppress dissent through violence.  This month, House Democrats passed bipartisan legislation to crack down on bothersome and intrusive robocalls, which passed the Senate yesterday.

Advancing an Agenda of Equality, Justice, and Opportunity For the People

Even while the Senate has obstructed our legislation, House Democrats have continued to push forward an ambitious agenda of progress for our country, aimed at lowering health care and prescription drug prices; raising wages; securing justice, equality, and opportunity for all; and keeping our nation safe. 

Health Care & Prescription Drugs

Earlier in 2019, House Democrats passed ten major bills to protect and expand access to affordable health care and to lower prescription drug costs.  These include the Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions Act, the Purple Book Continuity Act, the Orange Book Continuity Act, and a package of seven bills assembled as the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act.  In December, the House passed H.R. 3, the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, transformative legislation that would authorize Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices and provide transparency so that private insurance could cover medications at those lower prices as well.  Additionally, H.R. 3 reinvests over half a trillion dollars of savings into Medicare to expand services for beneficiaries, funding to combat the opioid crisis, and investments in the search for innovative cures and treatments.

Wages, Infrastructure, & The Economy

Fulfilling our promise to tackle wage stagnation, House Democrats passed the Raise the Wage Act in July.  This legislation would increase the federal minimum wage to $15, which would provide a raise for up to 33 million Americans, including 23 million women, many of whom are the primary breadwinners in their households.  It would also, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), lift 1.3 million Americans out of poverty and generate an additional $118 billion in additional income for workers that would be reinvested in their communities. 

In March, the House passed H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which builds on the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensure that women earn equal pay for equal work.  In May, House Democrats voted for the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination against LGBT Americans in employment, education, finance, credit, housing, and other areas critical to economic opportunity in our country.  With the Consumers First Act in May, House Democrats fought back against the Trump Administration’s efforts to sabotage the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and acted to prevent predatory loans and other financial scams aimed at American workers and their families.  

We also passed the Butch Lewis Act to protect multi-employer pension funds from insolvency, standing by the millions of retirees who worked their whole lives and deserve to know that their pensions are secure. 

All year, multiple House committees have held hearings on proposals to improve America’s infrastructure.  In May, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer went to the White House to try to work with President Trump on securing a $2 trillion investment in much-needed infrastructure projects across the country.  However, the President rejected any effort to work together with Democrats, and he continues to block any progress on an infrastructure deal.  House Democrats, however, will continue working on this issue on our own, making it a top priority for 2020. 

Civil Rights, Voting Rights, & Immigrants’ Rights

In addition to H.R. 1, the House also approved H.R. 4, at last answering the Supreme Court’s call to modernize the 1965 Voting Rights Act and restoring its protections for voters across the country. 

In June, House Democrats fulfilled our pledge to Dreamers and those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) by passing H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act.  This legislation allows undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children to remain in the country they love and call home.  It also relieves the uncertainty for TPS and DED holders that they will not be forced to leave the United States after building homes and communities here, some of them for more than a decade, and contributing to our economy and our country.  Specifically, we also took action to extend TPS status for Venezuelan refugees who have fled the violence and deprivation caused by the Chavez-Maduro regime. 

Taking action to combat the humanitarian crisis on our southern border created by President Trump’s dangerous and inhumane policies, the House approved legislation to provide assistance to those in U.S. custody. 

As mentioned above, the House passed the Equality Act to ban all forms of discrimination against LGBT Americans.  Furthermore, we approved a resolution strongly condemning anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, homophobia, and other forms of hate, making it clear that intolerance has no place in America.

Keeping Americans Safe at Home and Abroad

In February, the Democratic-led House took action to combat the scourge of gun violence by passing H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act.  Long overdue and ignored by the previous Republican-led Congress, this legislation would close loopholes and strengthen background checks to ensure that those who cannot be trusted with deadly firearms – such as criminals, domestic abusers, and terror suspects – cannot access them.  In addition, we passed a bill to close the Charleston loophole, which enabled a violent white-supremacist to obtain the weapons with which he murdered nine African-American worshippers in a South Carolina church in 2015.

The House reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act in April with improvements to the law that will provide additional tools to law enforcement and further resources for survivors.  This bipartisan, five-year reauthorization includes language that will help protect women on Native American sovereign land and that helps encourage men and boys to be proactive in preventing domestic violence.  As part of that reauthorization, and for a second time in October, House Democrats passed the Debbie Smith Act to address the rape kit backlog.

House Democrats have led the charge to combat foreign interference in American elections, passing legislation to strengthen the security of states’ voting systems and hold Russia accountable for its efforts to undermine our democracy in 2016 and in the future.  That includes the SHIELD Act and the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act. 

House Democrats also performed our duty under the Constitution to investigate President Trump’s abuse of power, where he sought to benefit himself at the expense of America’s national security and the safety of a key ally, and approved articles of impeachment to deter such abuse from occurring in the future. 

Additionally, the House passed a war powers resolution calling on the Trump Administration to end its involvement in Yemen’s deadly civil war and help bring a peaceful end to the conflict that promotes stability in that region and prevents Iranian hegemony.  Unfortunately, the President vetoed that resolution.  We also approved resolutions disapproving of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which was involved in the brutal murder of a journalist and continues to engage in human rights violations.  After President Trump undermined America’s credibility by turning his back on our Kurdish allies, the House passed the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act in November, which sanctions those responsible for Turkey’s deadly incursion into Kurdish-held areas in Syria. 

Working to Promote a Cleaner, Greener Planet

House Democrats are committed to addressing the global climate crisis.  In May, we passed H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act, which would prevent the Trump Administration from using federal funds to withdraw our country from the Paris Climate Agreement.  It also reaffirms Obama-era energy efficiency and fuel economy standards.  Our appropriations bills have invested substantial funding in the development and deployment of clean energy technologies, and House-passed legislation seeks to prevent drilling off both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  We have passed several bills to protect America’s public lands, and House committees – including the new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis – have held over eighty hearings on how to combat climate change and invest in growing the green economy. 

Standing up for America’s Veterans

In 2019, House Democrats passed a number of major bills to protect veterans’ access to quality health care, improve access to education and skills training, reduce veteran suicide, and pay tribute to those who have served.  We approved the Veterans Access to Child Care Act in January to make it easier for veterans who are parents of young children to access care at V.A. facilities.  We also passed bills to expand health benefits for veterans exposed to Agent Orange, to address veteran homelessness, and the Deborah Samson Act to improve health care for women who served in uniform.  In all of these efforts, House Democrats drew on the experience of the many Members of our Caucus who served in the military, including post-9/11 veterans. 

Looking Ahead to 2020

Following an enormously successful 2019 fighting For the People, House Democrats are looking ahead to the new year, energized to continue making sure that the House is focused on doing the people’s work and achieving results.  From tackling infrastructure and climate change to making progress on job creation and health care access, we will continue to perform our responsibility and govern in a way that promotes equality, justice, and opportunity for all while keeping our nation safe and secure at home and abroad.

With hundreds of House-passed bills stalled in the Republican-led Senate, we will continue to put pressure on the Senate to do its job.  House Democrats will not rest or be distracted from our mission to hold the Trump Administration and Senate accountable, to govern responsibly, and to deliver on our promises to deliver For the People.