Image by Michael Bonfigli / The Christian Science Monitor
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer ridiculed Republicans Wednesday for a bill that would bar new federal regulations until the unemployment rate reaches 94 percent.
Of course, the bill was supposed to halt regulation until the unemployment rate falls below 6 percent. Democrats nonetheless chided their GOP colleagues for the legislative fail.
“My, my, my how carefully they read that bill,” the Maryland Democrat said of Republicans, whose 2010 campaign rhetoric included promises to scrutinize every detail of legislation, in alleged contrast to Democrats lazy with power and indifferent about government efficiency.
Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, piled on with an alleged joke. “The Republicans have made a big typo in their latest message bill to nowhere. Looks like they should stop harping about ‘red tape’ and start looking for the white-out,” Hammill said in an email.
Republicans tried to make the best of the situation, slamming Democrats for focusing on a relatively minor mistake instead of a more important issue. “Unemployment in America has been above eight percent for 41 straight months. The fact that the Democrats are making a crusade out of a typo shows their lack of commitment to serious debate about how to get this country back on track,” said Erica Elliott, communication director for House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.
Although Republicans had hoped they would be able to use a “unanimous consent” agreement to change the language – thus avoiding an embarrassing floor debate on amending the bill, “I doubt they’ll get unanimous consent,” Hoyer said. Hoyer, the number two Democrat in the House, made his comments on the typo during a wide-ranging interview with reporters at the Monitor Breakfast in Washington Wednesday morning.
Speaking about this November’s elections, Hoyer said that while “optimism is tough to summon up, obviously” he remains confident that President Barack Obama will win re-election and is hopeful Democrats can take back the House. With a number of districts in play that either Obama won in 2008 or Sen. John Kerry won in 2004, Hoyer argued the playing field is much better for his party than had originally been imagined.
Additionally, he said, the anger and frustration that brought 87 new freshmen Republicans to Congress in 2010 has dissipated – in part because their arrival has done nothing to break the gridlock in Washington. “2010 was the angriest environment that I have participated in, that I’ve see around the country … I don’t feel that anger now,” he said, adding that voters are “not sure who to be directing anger at.”
Asked whether Congress should take up an assault weapons ban after the shooting in Aurora, Hoyer said it was all but certain that the GOP-controlled House would not touch the issue, but advocated further control. “Assault weapons are designed for “one purpose and one purpose only – to kill a lot of people quickly,” he said. “We ought to have rational controls on weapons designed to kill a lot of people.”