Outgoing Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says the 'biggest change' he's seen in his congressional career is 'how confrontational Republicans have become'

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Outgoing Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says the 'biggest change' he's seen in his congressional career is 'how confrontational Republicans have become'
Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland.Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • Rep. Steny Hoyer recently spoke of the changes he's seen in his nearly 42-year House career.
  • In a Washington Post interview, he lamented the "confrontational" nature of some GOP members.
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Outgoing Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who has long enjoyed strong relationships across the political aisle, said in a recent interview that the "biggest change" he's noticed in the lower chamber throughout his tenure is the more "confrontational" nature of Republicans.

Hoyer, a Marylander who has served in Congress since 1981, is often one of the first Democrats approached by top Republicans looking to cut deals on various pieces of legislation.

But in a recent interview with The Washington Post, Hoyer — who will step down from the party's leadership team but remain in the House for at least another term — was remarkably candid about the toll that partisanship has taken in a chamber where he is always looking to forge bipartisan consensus.

"I think the biggest change in the institution is how confrontational Republicans have become," he told the newspaper.

Hoyer, who in 1990 was the lead sponsor of the Americans With Disabilities Act, worked with then-GOP Rep. Steve Barrett of Texas and then-President George H.W. Bush to pass the sweeping legislation.

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But after former Republican House Speakers John Boehner of Ohio and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin struggled to contain the more extreme elements of their party, Hoyer remarked that governing had become a much more difficult proposition on the GOP side.

"That's the biggest change," Hoyer said, while also pointing to January 6, 2021, riot at the United States Capitol.

Days after the riot, Hoyer took to the House floor and sharply condemned those who had vocally called into question the integrity and outcome of the 2020 election, including Trump himself. The congressman at the time laid out his case for why he strongly backed impeaching the then-president.

"With just seven days left in the President's term, this vote is not about timing. It is about principle. It concerns the clear and present danger facing our country, not only in these final days of the Trump Administration but in the weeks, months, and years that will follow," he said. "It is about the necessity to demonstrate to this generation and to future generations the duty we share to protect our democracy every single day."

"We know that this President would never emulate George Washington and give up his power for the good of our republic, even after losing an election," he continued to say. "We know that this President neither recognizes norms nor respects the rule of law. We know that this President is no patriot."

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The House would eventually impeach Trump, garnering the support of every Democrat in the chamber along with 10 Republicans, but the Senate later acquitted him. Only two Republicans who voted for Trump's second impeachment will remain in the chamber in January 2023.

Hoyer, who has served as No. 2 to Nancy Pelosi as both majority leader and minority whip, praised her speakership in the interview and spoke of his realization several years ago that he likely wouldn't lead the Democratic caucus.

"Would I have liked to have been the speaker? Of course. … I don't know that I could have done any better job than Nancy Pelosi. I don't know that anybody could have," he told the newspaper.

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