Voter guide: Steny H. Hoyer, Congress, District 5

Steny H. Hoyer

Democratic candidate for Congress, D7

Age 80

Residence Mechanicsville, Maryland

Occupation Lawyer

Education University of Maryland (B.S.); Georgetown University Law Center (J.D.)

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Previous political experience

Maryland State Senator, 1967-1979, President of Maryland State Senate Member of Congress, 1981-Present, Majority Leader

Why are you running for office?

I’m running in 2020 because I feel as passionately about the issues confronting my constituents – health care, education, the environment, criminal justice reform – as when I first ran for Congress. In Congress, I’ve built a record of working to expand voting rights, reduce racial disparities in health care and education, advance criminal justice reform, protect our environment, combat climate change, create or save jobs, and enact accessible and affordable quality health care for all. I’ve accomplished a lot for my constituents throughout my tenure in Congress, but there is more work to be done and I will continue fighting for them.


How do you assess the Trump administration so far? Name at least one positive and one negative.

The Trump Administration has been marked by scandal, confrontation, and chaos. Instead of working with Congress to advance policies that help families in Maryland, President Trump and his Administration have failed to unify our nation and make life better for middle class families. It is tough to find a positive.


What effect do you believe the federal tax cuts of 2017 have had on the economy thus far or will have in the future and why? Do you support the cuts?

The President’s tax scam exploded the deficit by $2 trillion in order to give large corporations and wealthy shareholders a tax cut. The tax scam never paid for itself, nor created jobs, or raised wages for middle class workers, as the Administration promised. It was the wrong policy to adopt in an economy that was already growing and unemployment was low.


Is the level of economic inequality in the United States a problem, and why or why not? What, if anything, should the federal government do to address it?

People are feeling the uncertainty that President Trump’s reckless economic policies have created: wages have stagnated, health care costs continue to grow, and too many people are taking on more and more debt to make it month-to-month. As Majority Leader, I brought legislation to the House Floor to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, ensure men and women are paid the same amount for the same job, bring down the cost of prescription drugs and health insurance, and to strengthen unions, who have a track record of bargaining for better wages and benefits. Quality education is the key to opportunity. We must make it affordable and accessible to all. In addition, we must have a fair tax code that ensures everyone pays their fair share and provides sufficient revenue for essential services.


Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how and why?

Gun violence is a deadly epidemic facing our communities. As Majority Leader, I brought to the Floor bipartisan legislation to strengthen background checks on gun purchases.

In the wake of mass shootings throughout our nation, I continue to urge Senate Republicans to take up and pass H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Backgrounds Checks Act and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act also known as the Charleston loophole bill. Every day that passes without Senate action to address gun violence is another day that Republicans are accepting this epidemic of violence across the nation. I also support the assault weapons ban, red flag laws, and limits on high capacity ammunition. We must do more to reduce the carnage in our communities.


What should Congress do with respect to the Affordable Care Act, how and why? If you believe it should be scrapped, what, if anything, should replace it?

I was proud to serve as Majority Leader and ensure the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to this law, millions of Americans are insured and millions more with pre- existing conditions cannot be discriminated against. However there is still work to be done to expand access to affordable health care to all. I will be bringing to the Floor legislation that will strengthen the ACA and make healthcare more affordable and accessible.


What role should the federal government play in helping cities? What, if anything, would you do for Baltimore, specifically?

In order to strengthen cities like Baltimore and rural communities like those throughout the Fifth District, we need to invest in a 21st century infrastructure plan that will create jobs and strengthen our nation’s competitiveness. Such a plan needs to address the crumbling roads, bridges, airports, electric grid, broadband, ports, water and sewer systems, as well as rail and transit networks in Maryland and around the country. I have been a strong supporter of Baltimore City for the 12 years I was in the Maryland State Senate and during my years in Congress.


Do you back Elijah Cummings’ bill -- which Republicans say is too expensive -- to provide $100 billion over 10 years to fight the opioid epidemic? Why or why not?

Yes, I am a cosponsor. The opioid epidemic is a serious crisis facing our communities. The failure to resolve this crisis will cost more.


What changes, if any, should Congress make to our immigration and deportation laws and policies? Should the DACA program be preserved? Why or why not?

The immigration policies implemented by the Trump Administration have exacerbated our immigration challenges, and have hurt families and children, our economy, and communities throughout the nation. As Majority Leader, I brought to the House Floor legislation to protect Dreamers and those with Temporary Protected Status. I continue to urge the Senate to pass the DREAM Act. pass comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship.


How would you rate the Trump administration’s trade stance with China and why?

Like so many of his policies, President Trump’s trade policy has been poorly thought out, sporadic, simplistic and hurt American consumers and businesses. President Trump might talk a tough game, but time and time again he has failed to live up to his promises to American workers. China deserves our opposition for theft of intellectual property, unfair trade practices, and at times manipulation of currency that should be dealt with in a surgical way designed to change their policies without adversely impacting Americans and our allies. But the Trump Administration has failed to deliver a clear and steady policy to reverse these practices. President Trump’s tariff policies are imposing burdens on U.S. consumers and business, causing job loss, and postponing investments in future economic activity.


Do you support the president’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal? Why or why not?

No. It’s clear the President has no strategy on how to effectively deal with Iran. By withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, the Trump Administration has isolated our country from our allies and undermined the multilateral effort to curb Iran’s dangerous behavior. Iran must not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. We achieved no benefit or goal by withdrawing.


How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?

The U.S. has struggled to form an effective policy to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear capability. We have not succeeded. We need a comprehensive strategy to combat North Korea’s nuclear program. The Trump Administration has yet to articulate a coherent strategy. Instead the President has held two photo-opportunities with North Korea’s dictator giving him substantial status without anything in return. Any agreement with North Korea must be based not on blind faith but on verifiable steps toward denuclearization and addressing human rights.


How should the United States address climate change?

The United States ought to be a leader on the global fight to address climate crisis. We should not have withdrawn from the Paris Agreement. We must act on the real and imminent threat of climate change. We should pursue decisive policies to achieve a carbon neutral global economy by 2050.


Do you support the Green New Deal? Why or why not?

Climate change is an incredibly serious issue that must be addressed. I’ve fought against the Trump Administration's efforts to repeal the Clean Power Plan and Clean Car rules, secured funding to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and brought legislation to the House Floor legislation to keep the United States in the Paris agreement. This remains one of the most important issues facing our nation, and I will continue to work to ensure the air we breathe and the water we drink is clean. As I said above achieving a carbon neutral economy by 2050 is essential.

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