House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday said that he hopes President Obama’s jobs package garners the support of 51 Democrats when it comes up for a procedural vote in the Senate Tuesday evening.
“Well, I hope they do get 51 (votes) tonight,” Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing. “I hope that Democrats who may not like this piece, that piece or the other piece would vote to put this bill on the floor, to have it considered and have it open to amendment.”
The $447 billion package will be up for a procedural vote later Tuesday, and already several Democrats — including Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) — are expected to vote against ending debate on the measure. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told a Chicago TV station on Monday that he believes two to four Democrats may vote “no” Tuesday evening — which could put the number of Democrats voting to end debate on the White House’s signature jobs plan at fewer than 51.
Hoyer, the House’s No. 2 Democrat, lamented that in the modern-day Senate 60 votes are necessary to push most pieces of legislation through the chamber.
“I think that one of the problems we have in this country is that a minority controls the United States Senate, and that a majority of the representatives in the United States Senate are precluded, too often, from considering the merits of proposals which have a majority of support, but not 60 votes’ support,” Hoyer said. “I think that’s unfortunate. I think that’s inconsistent with the best interests of our country. And I would hope that we would have 51 Democrats, because if we don’t ... people will read it as a lack of support for a jobs program.”
Hoyer criticized House Republican leaders for bringing to the floor this week H.R. 358, a measure that would prohibit federal funds from going toward any health care plan that covers abortion services and also would block funding from being withheld from institutions that are opposed to providing abortions.
“I don’t think anybody believes that’s going to bring jobs, nor does anybody believe that’s going to pass,” Hoyer said. “Mr. Cantor and other Republicans continue to lament — and the press laments — the fact that, ‘Oh, my goodness, this jobs bill won’t pass. Why are Democrats continuing to push it?’ Well, as you’ve noticed, the Republicans are pushing bills day after day, week after week, month after month for the last nine months that they know are not going to pass the United States Senate, but they continue to push them. I don’t see a lot of pushback publicly in the media about that.”
Hoyer also said that he expected the three trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama as well as the extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program to pass the House on Wednesday “with bipartisan votes,” although he added that Democrats were not planning on whipping the deals “per se.”
The “overwhelming number of Democrats” will support the renewal of the TAA program, Hoyer projected.