No. 2 House Democrat says Trump qualifies 'for being a racist'

Steny Hoyer urges passage of DACA bill

By DEIRDRE WALSH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL PRODUCER
Win McNamee/Getty Images

(CNN) - The No. 2 House Democrat said Tuesday that President Donald Trump qualifies as a racist and argued against the bipartisan Senate compromise to address the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, called the President's comments last week in the Oval Office meeting with bipartisan Senators "certainly racist."

Pressed whether he believes Trump is racist, Hoyer wouldn't initially answer directly, saying, "If you use racist rhetoric, if you pursue policies based upon a racial premise, I consider that to be the definition of a racist."

But then the Maryland Democrat then was more direct, saying, "I'm saying what he does is racist. If what you do is racist, you certainly qualify for being a racist."

Hoyer sidestepped a question on whether or not he supported a planned resolution to censure the President that members of the Congressional Black Caucus were drafting.

Hoyer, who is part of the four House and Senate bipartisan leadership group negotiating on DACA, made it clear he doesn't support the deal unveiled by the Sens. Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham.

"I am not for, at this point in time, dealing with either family reunification or diversity," Hoyer said. "I think both are based upon racial perspectives I think are highly objectionable to large numbers of our caucus, correctly so, and in any event are items to be discussed in the terms of comprehensive immigration reform."

Hoyer also argued that Republicans in Congress would be responsible for funding the government, and singled out former congressman, now-Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney for his role in the 2013 shutdown.

"We don't have the majority. They have the majority. They have a responsibility," Hoyer said of the GOP. He noted that when Democrats were in charge and they needed to pass short term funding bills or other policy proposals they favored they got no support from GOP members: "zero, zero."

He said about the last shutdown, "the Republicans shut down the government purposely for 16 days, with the strong support of the present director of the OMB, Mr. Mulvaney, who also voted against opening up the government. We don't want to shut down the government."

Hoyer added, "we're not going to be held hostage to do things that we think are contrary to the best interests of the American people because we will 'do the right thing' and they don't care, which they have clearly demonstrated that they think shutting down the government is an appropriate policy."

He admitted that Democrats have backed stopgap bills in the past, and provided the necessary votes to avoid any shutdown, but said in this circumstance because there are still no deals on the budget or DACA, "time's up."

Hoyer told reporters that any DACA deal and agreement on budget caps needs to be included in the continuing resolution in order to get his party's support.

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