Rep. Steny Hoyer (L’66): Restoring Faith in Government

July 12, 2016

“As I’ve traveled across the country…,” said House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)(L’66), speaking in Hart Auditorium on July 11, “I’ve heard the same sentiment: too many of our people believe that the American Dream is slipping away.”

So with the Democratic and Republican National Conventions looming, the congressman — who has served Maryland’s fifth congressional district since 1981 — came to Georgetown Law on July 11 to outline the House Democrats’ vision for restoring faith in government.

Hoyer called for reform in the four major areas of campaign finance, voting rights, congressional redistricting and technology in government. He also urged an end to partisan Senate obstructions of executive branch nominations and the restoration of congressional earmarks, eliminated by House Republicans in 2011.

“Since the Citizens United decision, the wealthiest individuals and corporations have spent billions to ensure that their voices drown out all others,” he said with respect to campaign finance — calling for the 2010 Supreme Court decision to be overturned.

And the protections of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court struck down in 2013 should be restored, Hoyer said. But his focus was not on the Court; as he asserted at the outset, the dysfunction of the legislative branch has damaged the other two branches — as seen in the partisan obstruction of judicial branch nominees (as well as a Scalia successor) and the denial of critical funding for executive branch agencies.

The congressman was joined onstage by Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor and Sonal Shah, executive director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University. The hour-long event, which included a question-and-answer session at the end, was hosted by Georgetown Law, the Beeck Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.

“Congress today has become less than the sum of its parts,” said Hoyer. “There are a lot of good people in Congress on both sides of the aisle. But together, we are not functioning… we need to give our people hope that we can fix what’s broken in Washington.”