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Steny Hoyer
Steny Hoyer, official photo as Whip.jpg
Hoyer in 2006
House Majority Leader
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Deputy Jim Clyburn
Preceded by Kevin McCarthy
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2011
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Deputy Jim Clyburn
Preceded by John Boehner
Succeeded by Eric Cantor
House Minority Whip
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2019
Leader Nancy Pelosi
Preceded by Eric Cantor
Succeeded by Steve Scalise
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Leader Nancy Pelosi
Preceded by Nancy Pelosi
Succeeded by Roy Blunt
Chair of the House Democratic Caucus
In office
June 21, 1989 – January 3, 1995
Leader Tom Foley
Preceded by William H. Gray III
Succeeded by Vic Fazio
Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus
In office
January 3, 1989 – June 21, 1989
Leader Jim Wright
Preceded by Mary Rose Oakar
Succeeded by Vic Fazio
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 5th district
Assumed office
May 19, 1981
Preceded by Gladys Spellman
82nd President of the Maryland Senate
In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1978
Preceded by William S. James
Succeeded by James A. Clark Jr.
Member of the Maryland Senate
from the 26th district
In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1978
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Mike Donovan
Member of the Maryland Senate
from the 4C district
In office
January 1967 – January 1975
Preceded by constituency established
Succeeded by constituency abolished
Personal details
Steny Hamilton Hoyer

(1939-06-14) June 14, 1939 (age 83)
New York City, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Judith Pickett
(m. 1961; died 1997)
Children 3
Residence(s) Mechanicsville, Maryland, U.S.
Education University of Maryland, College Park (BA)
Georgetown University (JD)
  • Politician
  • lawyer

Steny Hamilton Hoyer (born June 14, 1939) is an American politician and attorney serving as the U.S. representative for MD's 5th congressional district since 1981 and as House Majority Leader since 2019. A Democrat, Hoyer was first elected in a special election on May 19, 1981. As of 2022, he is in his 21st term as a member of the House. 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 (2003–2007 and 2011–2019), Hoyer served as House minority whip, both times under Minority Leader Pelosi. Following the 2018 midterm elections in which the Democrats took control of the House, Hoyer was re-elected majority leader in January 2019 upon the opening of the 116th Congress; he remains the number two House Democrat behind Speaker Pelosi.

Early life and education

Hoyer was born in New York City but grew up in Mitchellville, Maryland, the son of Jean (née Baldwin) and Steen Theilgaard Høyer. His father was Danish and a native of Copenhagen; "Steny" 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 then Senator John F. Kennedy before his election in 1960. In 1963, Hoyer received his B.A. degree magna cum laude and graduated Omicron Delta Kappa from the University of Maryland, College Park. He was also 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 (D-Maryland); also on Senator Brewster's staff at that time was Nancy Pelosi, who would later become a leadership colleague of Hoyer's.

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.

U.S. House of Representatives

Steny Hoyer, official photo portrait, circa 1980s
Congressional portrait of Hoyer, circa 1980
Steny Hoyer
Hoyer in 2007 as House Majority Leader
Steny Hoyer DNC 2008
Hoyer speaks during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.
Rep. Hoyer and Sen. Mikulski present photo to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, May 8, 2007
Hoyer with Barbara Mikulski presenting a photo to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in Greenbelt, Maryland


Fifth district Congresswoman Gladys Spellman fell into a coma shortly 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

Hoyer supports and has led on the Make It In America plan linking domestic manufacturing industry and overall US economic success.

Hoyer supports affirmative action and LGBT rights. Hoyer is rated F by the NRA, indicating a pro-gun-control voting record.

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 George W. Bush's wiretapping program. "It's not compromise, it's pure theater."

In a 2009 USA Today opinion piece regarding healthcare reform, Steny Hoyer wrote that "[d]rowning out opposing views is simply un-American."

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.

Hoyer voted against the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1999. In 2019, Hoyer voted for the impeachment of President Trump. In 2021, Hoyer voted for the second impeachment of President Trump.

In February 2021, Hoyer made a passionate speech in Congress which has been viewed online more than two million times, criticising an incendiary Facebook post by new Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. The post featured a gun-toting Greene next to three members of the "Squad"—congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, with the caption "Democrats' Worst Nightmare". In his speech he compared Greene's words with those of Republican Congressman Steve King, who was removed from the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees in 2019 after comments he made to the New York Times questioning why white supremacy was considered offensive. Hoyer made the point that Taylor Greene's words both in that post and other posts she had made promoting baseless conspiracy theories, were far more offensive and incendiary than the comment which led Republicans to strip King of his committee roles. He asked his colleagues to on both sides of the aisle to "do the decent thing" and strip Taylor Greene of her committee roles. The eventual vote succeeded, but only eleven Republicans joined Democrats to pass the motion by 230–199 to remove.

Foreign issues

Hoyer supports civilian nuclear cooperation with India.

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.

Hoyer is a supporter of Israel, and has often been allied with American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In September 2007, he criticized Rep. Jim Moran for suggesting that AIPAC "has pushed (the Iraq) 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.

Hoyer has stated that a nuclear Iran is "unacceptable" and that the use of force remains an option.

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.

Hoyer is a former chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.


On February 28, 2014, Hoyer introduced the bill to amend the National Law Enforcement Museum Act to extend the termination date (H.R. 4120; 113th Congress) 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.


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

Bush, Pelosi, and Hoyer meeting at White House, Nov 9, 2006
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.
NPOMS 2019-130 (32917978187)
Hoyer with President Donald Trump in 2019

Hoyer has served as chairman of the Democratic Caucus, the fourth-ranking position among House Democrats, from 1989 to 1994; the former co-chair (and a current member) 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.

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 (for Pelosi to remain Democratic House Leader). He ran for minority whip, but was challenged by outgoing Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (the top House Democrats wanted to remain in the leadership, but the minority party in the House has one less position). 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 (the existing "Assistant to the Leader" post formerly held by Chris Van Hollen is not officially part of the House leadership and was directly appointed by the Minority Leader).

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 influence 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.

Electoral history

Year Office Election Subject Party Votes  % Opponent Party Votes  % Opponent Party Votes  % Opponent Party Votes  %
1981 Congress, 5th district Special Steny Hoyer Democratic 42,573 55.81 Audrey Scott Republican 33,708 44.19
1982 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 83,937 79.58 William Guthrie Republican 21,533 20.42
1984 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 116,310 72.18 John Ritchie Republican 44,839 27.82
1986 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 82,098 81.93 John Sellner Republican 18,102 18.07
1988 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 128,437 78.63 John Sellner Republican 34,909 21.37
1990 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 84,747 80.66 Lee Breuer Republican 20,314 19.34
1992 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 113,280 55.0 Larry J. Hogan, Jr. Republican 92,636 45.0
1994 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 98,821 58.81 Donald Devine Republican 69,211 41.19
1996 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 121,288 56.92 John S. Morgan Republican 91,806 43.08
1998 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 126,792 65.37 Robert Ostrom Republican 67,176 34.36
2000 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 166,231 65.09 Thomas Hutchins Republican 89,019 34.86
2002 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 137,903 69.27 Joseph Crawford Republican 60,758 30.52
2004 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 204,867 68.67 Brad Jewitt Republican 87,189 29.93 Bob Auerbach Green 4,224 1.42
2006 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 168,114 82.69 Steve Warner Green 33,464 16.46 Write Ins: P.Kuhnert and Other 635 1,110 0.86
2008 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 253,854 73.6 Collins Bailey Republican 82,631 24.0 Darlene Nicholas Libertarian 7,829 2.3
2010 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 143,620 64.3 Charles Lollar Republican 79,122 35.6 H. Gavin Shickle Libertarian 2,399 1.1
2012 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 238,618 69.4 Tony O'Donnell Republican 95,271 27.7 Bob Auerbach Green 5,040 1.5 Arvin Vohra Libertarian 4,503 1.3
2014 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 144,725 64.0 Chris Chafee Republican 80,752 35.7 Write-ins 563 0.2
2016 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 242,989 67.4 Mark Arness Republican 105,931 29.4 Jason Summers Libertarian 11,078 3.1 Write-ins 606 0.2
2018 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 213,796 70.3 William Devine III Republican 82,361 27.1 Patrick Elder Green 4,082 1.3 Write-ins 279 0.1
2020 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 274,210 68.8 Chris Palombi Republican 123,525 31.0 write-ins 1,104 0.3

Personal life

Hoyer has three daughters, Anne, Susan, and Stefany, from his marriage to Judy Pickett Hoyer, who died of cancer in February 1997. In June 2012, after Hoyer announced his support of same-sex marriage, his daughter Stefany Hoyer Hemmer came out as a lesbian in an interview with the Washington Blade.

His wife was an advocate of early childhood education, and child development learning centers in Maryland have been named in her honor ("Judy Centers"). She also suffered from epilepsy, and the Epilepsy Foundation of America sponsors an annual public lecture in her name. Hoyer, too, has been an advocate for research in this area, and the Epilepsy Foundation presented him in 2002 with their Congressional Leadership Award.

Hoyer serves on the Board of Trustees for St. Mary's College of Maryland and is a member of the board of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a nonprofit that supports international elections. He is also an Advisory Board Member for the Center for the Study of Democracy.

In July 2018, Hoyer was hospitalized at George Washington University Hospital for pneumonia. He is a member of a Baptist church.

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