Democrats Need to ‘Fix Government’ If They Win House, Pelosi’s No. 2 Says

(Bloomberg) -- House Democrats should increase oversight of President Donald Trump’s administration and tighten campaign finance laws if they win control of the chamber in November, second-ranking Democrat Steny Hoyer said Wednesday in fleshing out the party’s agenda.

"If Democrats can fix government, we can earn the trust of voters to lead on addressing health care, infrastructure, jobs, the environment and so many other critical issues," Hoyer of Maryland said in a speech hosted by End Citizens United Fund, a group that backs a campaign finance overhaul.

Democrats have until now spelled out a limited agenda of health-care legislation, infrastructure spending and revising ethics laws, allowing individual candidates in the Nov. 6 election to largely shape their own messages. Election analysts say Democrats appear poised to win the 23 seats they need to take control of the House.

Hoyer said that if Democrats win, they should immediately work on campaign finance laws, voting and ethics laws, and to change the way Congress is run. The plan calls for banning members of the House from serving on corporate boards and for restoring earmarks, used to direct funds to specific projects designated in spending bills.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California has called on fellow Democrats to “be ready” to govern if the party takes power.

Several House Democratic candidates have said they wouldn’t support Pelosi to become speaker again. She was the first woman to hold the position, from 2007 to 2011. Some members have called for new, younger leadership than 78-year-old Pelosi. While Hoyer is a year older, some Democrats have suggested he could be a transition between the current leadership and the next generation.

Hoyer called for legislation to require super-political action committees and so-called "dark money" groups to disclose their contributors, and to bolster public financing of elections. Hoyer said Wednesday that a Democratic majority would strengthen the Voting Rights Act, seek to rein in partisan gerrymandering of House districts, and improve ethics rules for members of Congress.

The plan also calls for increased oversight of Trump and his cabinet. Hoyer said the Republican-led Congress has "abdicated" its role of overseeing the administration’s actions.

In calling for a return to earmarks in spending bills, Hoyer said Republicans went too far in eliminating the practice, and "the result has been an abdication of Congress’s power of the purse."

Hoyer criticized the Republican-controlled Congress for failing to write major legislation through the normal committee process.

“The tax bill is probably the most egregious example,” Hoyer said. “No hearing, no public input. A bad process led to a bad product.”

Hoyer backed a plan from the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus that would require bills with a significant number of co-sponsors to go to the floor.

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