(CNSNews.com) - House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that Congress has been less productive in 2011 under the GOP-controlled House than under the Democrat super majority in 2007, because in their first year in power his colleagues were able to pass more than twice as many bills as Republicans have.
He claimed that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) bears the responsibility of Congress being unproductive in 2011.
“When we took over [in 2007] we were a lot more productive, and we got more bills by a factor of two being signed by a Republican president,” Hoyer said during his weekly pen and pad press briefing.
Hoyer compared Congress’ legislative accomplishments in 2007 when Democrats took it over from Republicans to those in 2011 when Republicans took over the House from the Democrats.
“In 2007 George Bush is president of the United States, so it’s not like we were dealing with a Democratic president who simply had signed all our bills – 131 signed into law [in 2007] as opposed to 62 [in 2011] – 50 percent as productive,” said Hoyer.
He then pointed out that in 2011 28 “major bills”, which he said include the continuing resolutions and the three trade bills, were signed into law as oppose to 60 in 2007.
“Again by a factor of 100 percent more or they did 50 percent of what we did,” added Hoyer.
He then said that 165 bills were passed through the GOP-controlled House in 2011 compared to 478 bills when Democrats took over the House in 2007.
Hoyer acknowledged that a lot of the bills that passed the House in 2007 “were these congratulatory resolutions, which we’re not doing now, and as you see we have saved extraordinary amounts of time to do very substantive work.
Regarding House roll call votes, the majority leader then said, “888 votes in 2011, 1,122 votes in 2007,” later adding, “committee mark ups, 336 mark ups in 2011, almost 600, 598 mark ups in 2007.”
Hoyer added that House Republicans conducted “less hearings in 2011 than we did in 2007. Not by a great factor – by about 100 – 1,447 to 1,550.”
Hoyer went on to criticize the Republican-controlled House for voting on “political message bills for their base, a relatively narrow base.” Those bills, he said, included legislation to repeal the new health care law and “put insurance companies back in control of health care. They know that’s not going to pass the Senate. They know the president is not going to sign.”
“On the real important pieces of legislation that they knew must pass” such as the continuing resolutions and bills to increase the debt limit, Republicans “could not garner a majority of their party for it. As you know we were not able in 2007 to garner majority votes for the propositions that we thought were important. They would not have passed because the Republicans weren’t voting for it,” Hoyer said.
When asked if the speaker bears “a lot of a lot of the responsibility for the fact that Congress had an exceptional unproductive year,” Hoyer said, “Yes.”
“I certainly think the answer to that question is the Speaker is … you know he is the top legislator in the Congress, elected by all the House, who has the responsibility to move legislation,” responded Hoyer. “Certainly from that criteria, Speaker Pelosi was a very productive, effective speaker.
“We moved a lot of legislation through the House [in 2011], which the speaker must have known, we knew, had no chance in the Senate, but it was their political message they’ve been pursuing their political message, not policy. To that extent, yes I think the speaker bears responsibility. He is after all the leader,” he added.
In an Oct. 27 letter to his colleagues, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the reforms that Republicans brought to the House in 2011 “have helped fulfill the Speaker’s commitment to a more deliberative legislative process.”
“For example,” added Cantor, “the House has taken 800 roll call votes through October 14 of this year. By the same time last year, the House had taken just 565 votes.”
“Oversight, investigation, fact-finding, and problem solving is a job best suited for our committees and because of our emphasis, committees have enjoyed a boom of activity, holding 1,276 hearings and 194 markups to date,” the majority leader added later.
Without mentioning an exact date, Hoyer noted in a letter that Cantor had sent his colleagues. Cantor claimed that in 2011 the Republican-controlled House “had done more than has been done in the past in some respects.” However, Hoyer argued against those claims.