Meet Congressman Steny Hoyer
Congressman Steny H. Hoyer represents Maryland's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties and portions of Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties. A resident of Mechanicsville serving his 21st term in Congress, Congressman Hoyer became the longest-serving Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland in history on June 4, 2007.
It was at the University of Maryland, College Park, that Steny Hoyer first heard the call to pursue a life in public service. As a student, he heard an address on campus by John F. Kennedy, then a senator running for president, and was inspired to get involved in politics and intern on Capitol Hill. It was here that Hoyer began a journey that would lead to him become the first Marylander in history to serve as Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives.
While attending night classes at Georgetown Law, Hoyer worked as a junior staffer to Sen. Daniel Brewster (D-MD) to pay for school. After graduating, he ran for and won a seat representing Prince George’s County, where he had grown up, in the Maryland State Senate at the age of twenty-seven. Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and the legacy of President John F. Kennedy, he cast one of his first votes to end the ban on interracial marriage still on Maryland’s lawbooks, and he focused his work in the Senate on making housing more affordable and equitable and expanding transit options for commuters as the county grew. In 1975, at age thirty-five, Hoyer became the youngest State Senate President in Maryland’s history, a record he still holds. He ran for Congress in 1981 in a special election and has spent every day since fighting for the people of Maryland’s Fifth District to have strong communities and schools, economic opportunities to get ahead, and the best constituent services of any district in the country.
Throughout his time in public service, Hoyer has earned a reputation for effectiveness at building consensus in order to effect progressive change. He was lead sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, which broke down barriers and secured equal rights for people with disabilities. Later, he was an original co-sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which has helped reduce domestic violence and bring abusers to justice. After the disputed 2000 election, he led efforts to pass the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), and he has been a champion for voting rights and to restore the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act after key parts of that law were struck down in 2013 by the Supreme Court. In 2010, as Majority Leader, he brought legislation to the House floor that finally ended the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that banned LGBT Americans from serving openly in the military, and he was a vocal supporter of marriage equality before the Supreme Court made it the law of the land in 2015. As Majority Leader again in the 117th Congress, he’s worked across the Democratic Caucus and across the aisle to secure House passage of legislation to raise the minimum wage, secure the rights of workers and labor unions, prevent Dreamers from being deported, defend the Affordable Care Act and protect women’s health care choices, ensure equal pay for women, affirm the Paris Climate Agreement, and restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people who paid their debt to society.
Always putting his constituents first, Hoyer has worked hard to bring federal resources home to Maryland’s Fifth District, which includes College Park. His support for the University’s expansion of research and teaching is rivaled only by his lifelong support for the men and women’s teams in the Terps’ pursuit of victory. In addition to securing funding for key University initiatives, Hoyer has also worked to expand federal funding for Fifth District fire and public safety departments, for local NASA and NOAA facilities, public schools, and community development programs that fight poverty and expand opportunities like skills training for workers. He has been a champion of full-service, community schools, helping to launch and grow Maryland’s nationally recognized network of early childhood centers, named for his late wife Judy, who was an early childhood education administrator in Prince George’s County. Hoyer has also been a tireless advocate for a cleaner and healthier Chesapeake Bay, securing millions in funding for oyster rehabilitation and Bay cleanup programs.
Looking beyond America’s borders, Hoyer has been a leader in promoting human rights and progressive values around the world. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, he served as Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, which promoted freedom and civil liberties behind the Iron Curtain and worked to secure democracy in the newly freed nations after the Cold War’s end. In 2007, he traveled to Darfur and South Sudan to raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis and genocide taking place there. Last year, Hoyer addressed the OSCE – Parliamentary Assembly, of which he was a founding member, and reaffirmed the need for the world’s democracies to stand together against extremism and defend the principles of equality, justice, opportunity, free speech, and the free press.
As House Majority Leader, Hoyer is the second-ranking member of the House Democratic Leadership and plays a key role in shaping House Democrats’ priorities and bringing legislation to the Floor to effect the party’s progressive agenda. His experience, know-how, and strong work ethic have led to increasing responsibilities within the House Democratic leadership. He previously served as House Majority Leader from 2007 to 2011 and House Democratic Whip from 2003 to 2007. Prior to serving in his first term as Whip, Hoyer was Chair of the Democratic Caucus from 1989 to 1995. He became the longest-serving Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland in history on June 4, 2007, and continues to work hard every day for his constituents and for the Democratic values he has championed since his days as a University of Maryland student.