Steny Hamilton Hoyer is an American politician and attorney serving as U.S. Representative for Maryland's 5th congressional district since 1981 and as House Majority Leader since 2019. A Democrat, he was first elected in a special election on May 19, 1981, and is currently serving in his 20th term. The district includes a large swath of rural and suburban territory southeast of Washington, D.C. Hoyer is the dean of the Maryland Congressional delegation and the most senior Democrat in the House.
Since 2003, Hoyer has been the second ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives behind Nancy Pelosi. He is a two-time House Majority Leader, having previously served in the post from 2007 to 2011 under Speaker Pelosi. During two periods of Republican House control , Hoyer served as House Minority Whip, both times under Minority Leader Pelosi. As a result of the 2018 midterm elections, in which the Democrats took control of the House, Hoyer was re-elected Majority Leader in January 2019 on the opening of the 116th Congress, remaining the number two House Democrat behind Speaker Pelosi.
Early life and education Hoyer was born in New York City, New York, and grew up in Mitchellville, Maryland, the son of Jean and Steen Theilgaard Høyer. His father was Danish and a native of Copenhagen; 'Sten'y is a variant of his father's name, 'Steen'. His mother was an American, with Scottish, German, and English ancestry, and a descendant of John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He graduated from Suitland High School in Suitland, Maryland.
In his early years at the University of Maryland College Park, Hoyer held a 1.9 grade point average. His attitude towards school and politics changed after hearing a speech from John F. Kennedy before his election in 1960. In 1963, he received his B.A. degree magna cum laude from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he also became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He earned his J.D. degree from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., in 1966.
Early political career For four years, from 1962 to 1966, Hoyer was a member of the staff of United States Senator Daniel Brewster ; also on Senator Brewster's staff at that time was Nancy Pelosi, who would later become a leadership colleague of Hoyer, as she served as Minority Leader and Speaker of the House.
In 1966, Hoyer won a newly created seat in the Maryland State Senate, representing Prince George's County-based Senate district 4C. The district, created in the aftermath of Reynolds v. Sims, was renumbered as the 26th district in 1975, the same year that Hoyer was elected President of the Maryland State Senate, the youngest in state history.
From 1969 to 1971, Hoyer served as the first vice president of the Young Democrats of America.
In 1978, Hoyer sought the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Maryland as the running mate of then acting Governor Blair Lee III, but he lost to Samuel Bogley 37%–34%. In the same year, Hoyer was appointed to the Maryland Board of Higher Education, a position he served in until 1981.
Hoyer speaks during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.
Hoyer with Barbara Mikulski presenting a photo to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in Greenbelt, Maryland Elections Fifth district Congresswoman Gladys Spellman fell into a coma three days before the 1980 election. She was reelected, but it soon became apparent that she would never regain consciousness, and Congress declared her seat vacant by resolution in February 1981. Hoyer narrowly won a crowded seven-way Democratic primary, beating Spellman's husband Reuben by only 1,600 votes. He then defeated a better-funded Republican, Audrey Scott, in the May 19 special election by 56%–44%, earning himself the nickname of 'boy wonder'. In the 1982 general election, Hoyer won reelection to his first full term with 80% of the vote. He has faced only one relatively close contest since then, when he defeated future Governor of Maryland Larry Hogan with just 53% of the vote in 1992. His second worst performance was his 1996 bid against Republican State Delegate John Morgan, when he won reelection with 57% of the vote. Hoyer has been reelected 14 times with no substantive opposition, and is the longest-serving House member ever from southern Maryland.
Domestic issues Social issues: Hoyer is pro-choice on abortion rights. He voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2003. Hoyer supports affirmative action and LGBT rights. Gun rights: He is rated F by the NRA, indicating a pro-gun-control voting record. Privacy: In 2008, Hoyer said he opposed providing immunity to telecom companies, but then negotiated a bill, described by Senators Patrick Leahy and Russ Feingold as a 'capitulation', that would provide immunity to any telecom company that had been told by the Bush administration that their actions were legal. 'No matter how they spin it, this is still immunity,' said Kevin Bankston, a senior lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy rights group that has sued over President Bush's wiretapping program. 'It's not compromise, it's pure theater.' Health care: In a 2009 USA Today opinion piece regarding healthcare reform, Steny Hoyer wrote that 'Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.' Taxes: In June 2010, Hoyer brought up the idea that Congress would extend only temporarily middle-class tax cuts that were set to expire at the end of the year, suggesting that making them permanent would cost too much. President Obama wanted to extend them permanently for individuals making less than $200,000 a year and families making less than $250,000.
Impeachment: Hoyer voted against the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1999. In 2019 Hoyer voted for the impeachment of President Donald
Foreign issues India: Hoyer supports civilian nuclear cooperation with India. Iraq: Hoyer initially supported the Iraq War and was even recognized by the DLC for his vocal leadership on this issue. After the war became publicly unpopular, Hoyer said he favored a 'responsible redeployment'. However, he has repeatedly supported legislation to continue funding for the war without deadlines for troop withdrawal, most recently in return for increased funding of domestic projects. Israel: Hoyer is a supporter of Israel, and has often been allied with American Israel Public Affairs Committee . In September 2007, he criticized Rep. Jim Moran for suggesting that AIPAC 'has pushed war from the beginning', calling the comment 'factually inaccurate.' In January 2017, Hoyer voted for a House resolution condemning the UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which called Israeli settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories a flagrant violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace. Hoyer supported President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Iran: Hoyer has stated that a nuclear Iran is 'unacceptable' and that the use of force remains an option. Syria: In January 2019, Hoyer opposed President Donald Trump's planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan as 'impulsive, irresponsible, and dangerous.' Hoyer supports former President Obama's call for authorizing limited but decisive military action in response to the Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons. Human rights: Hoyer is a former chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Legislation On February 28, 2014, Hoyer introduced the bill To amend the National Law Enforcement Museum Act to extend the termination date into the United States House of Representatives. The bill would extend until November 9, 2016, the authority of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit organization, to construct a museum on federal lands within the District of Columbia honoring law enforcement officers.
Fundraising Hoyer is a prolific fundraiser for House Democrats. He has been the top giver to fellow party members in the House. In the 2008 election cycle, he contributed more than $1 million to the party and individual candidates as of July 14, 2008.
Party leadership Hoyer has served as chairman of the Democratic Caucus, the fourth-ranking position among House Democrats, from 1989 to 1994; the former co-chair of the Democratic Steering Committee; and as the chief candidate recruiter for House Democrats from 1995 to 2000. He also served as Deputy Majority Whip from 1987 to 1989.
When David E. Bonior resigned as Minority Whip in early 2002, Hoyer ran but lost to Nancy Pelosi. After the 2002 midterm elections, Pelosi ran to succeed Dick Gephardt as Minority Leader, leaving the Minority Whip post open again. On November 14, 2002, Hoyer was unanimously elected by his colleagues in the Democratic Caucus to serve as the Minority Whip, the second-highest-ranking position among House Democrats.
Then-President George W. Bush meets with soon to be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and soon to be House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on November 9, 2006. Pelosi became the Speaker of the House in January 2007. Hoyer was elected by his colleagues to be House Majority Leader for the 110th Congress, defeating John Murtha of Pennsylvania by a vote of 149–86 within the caucus, despite Pelosi endorsing Murtha. Hoyer is the first Marylander to become Majority Leader. and became the highest-ranking federal lawmaker in Maryland history. In this post, Hoyer was the floor leader of the House Democrats and ranked second in the leadership after the Speaker who is the actual head of the majority party in the house.
The day after the 2010 midterm elections in which the Democrats lost control of the House, Hoyer had a private conversation with Pelosi and stated that he would not challenge her bid for Minority Leader . He ran for minority whip, but was challenged by outgoing Majority Whip Jim Clyburn . Hoyer is moderate while Pelosi and Clyburn are more liberal, and a significant number of Hoyer's would-be supporters in the House who were moderate and conservative Democrats had been defeated for reelection. The Congressional Black Caucus backed Clyburn, while 30 House Democrats have supported Hoyer, and Hoyer has also raised money and campaigned for many candidates. Hoyer received further support from outgoing Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman, Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, and outgoing Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman Pelosi intervened in the contest by supporting Hoyer as Minority Whip, while creating an 'Assistant Leader' position for Clyburn which would keep him as the third-ranking Democrat in the House behind Pelosi and Hoyer .
Hoyer and the DCCC have been criticized for picking their preferred candidates through an undemocratic process. In 2018, it was reported that Hoyer sought to alter the outcome of the primary race in Colorado's 6th congressional district. Hoyer was recorded urging progressive candidate Levi Tillemann to drop out of the race. Hoyer acknowledged that the DCCC had already identified its choice candidate and discouraged a candid discussion about his weaknesses. On November 28, 2018, Hoyer was selected to return as House Majority Leader.