House

Hoyer touts ‘psychology of consensus’ in final floor speech as majority leader

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) delivered his final speech from the House floor as majority leader on Thursday, reflecting on a number of victories — both bipartisan and Democratic-led — that Congress has notched in his 40-plus years as a member of the lower chamber.

The Maryland congressman, who is ending his more than three-decade tenure in Democratic leadership at the end of the year, said what he calls the “psychology of consensus” principle has been a major influence in how he approached his work as a member of the caucus’s top brass.

“What is the psychology of consensus?” Hoyer asked. “It means having a greater sense of us being in this work together than apart. It means waking up and saying, ‘I’m on the team.’ The American team, privileged as citizens to serve in this body.” 

“It means setting out with the intention to make progress — not block it.  And it means focusing on what unites us as Americans,” he added.

Hoyer spoke on the House floor for roughly 24 minutes Thursday morning for his final “magic minute” address. The special privilege, afforded to members of leadership, allows top lawmakers to speak for as long as they want on the House floor. Rank-and-file members must follow strict time limits.

The chamber broke out in applause when Hoyer finished his speech, and members on the floor shook his hand.

The speech came in Hoyer’s final days as a member of House Democratic leadership. The Maryland congressman announced last month that he would step down from the top brass of the party at the end of this year, putting a bookend on his nearly 34-year run in Democratic leadership.

His announcement came shortly after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said she would be stepping down from her post of Democratic leader at the end of this Congress. One day later, Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said he would not opt for any of the top three posts in the next Congress.

Pelosi has served as the top House Democrat for nearly two decades, with Hoyer behind as her No. 2 lawmaker. And for most of that time, Clyburn has served as No. 3.

The leaders said they were stepping back to allow a new generation of Democrats to rise in the ranks. Quickly after, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), Katherine Clark (Mass.) and Pete Aguilar (Calif.) announced bids for the top spots and were later voted into the roles by the caucus.

In his floor speech on Thursday, Hoyer reflected on several achievements — both Democratic wins and bipartisan victories — during his time as a member of the House.

He spoke about legislation passed during moments of economic hardship in 2008 and 2009, approval of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and various cooperation “to promote freedom and human rights around the world.”

He also mentioned passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, noting that the psychology of consensus helped the party deliver the “major victory.”

“We worked together in good faith to secure the votes for that landmark law, which made affordable health coverage attainable for 35 million more Americans, banned discriminatory practices, and dramatically slowed the growth of health care costs,” he said.

Additionally, the majority leader underscored the importance of more recent victories, including the Democrats’ American Rescue Plan and Inflation Reduction Act, as well as the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, gun safety bill and marriage equality measure.

“Democrats’ psychology of consensus, however, made this one of the most productive Congresses in recent history,” he said. “Not only by striving for consensus among our caucus, which proved the naysayers wrong, but by reaching across the aisle to Republicans when we needed their help to deliver results.”

He said he was “eager for” Congress to continue applying the “psychology of consensus” in the years to come.

“That psychology of consensus made the 117th Congress a success. This same ethos ought to characterize the next Congress too, and I will look toward that aim with my Republican colleagues,” Hoyer added.

Tags Hakeem Jeffries House Democrats james clyburn Nancy Pelosi Nancy Pelosi Steny Hoyer Steny Hoyer

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