House Majority Leader Complains About Lawmakers Playing Hooky

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sets the daily slate of business on the House floor.

But when Maryland Democrat cancelled last Friday's House session, Republicans pilloried Hoyer for trimming the schedule.

But count Hoyer among those unhappy about the decision.

"When you hear the grumbling, count me among the grumblers," Hoyer said Tuesday after a meeting with reporters. "I'm not happy about it."

The problem is that the House has increasingly worked "short" workweeks this fall despite a promise by Democratic leaders when their party regained control three years ago that lawmakers would work five-day weeks.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., promised long workweeks at the start of the year. And Congress certainly met that mark during the first six months as the House tackled an economic stimulus plan, an increase in health insurance for children and a controversial climate change bill. 

But the pace stalled as lawmakers work off-stage on a health care reform bill and await Senate action on a host of annual spending bills which the House already approved.

"Send us work," Hoyer said of the Senate late last week. "I'm not just going to hold people here to twiddle their thumbs."

But on Tuesday, Hoyer was quick to note he wasn't criticizing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"I think Reid has the most frustrating job in American government," Hoyer said. "It's difficult to move things in the Senate."

Meantime, even as the House awaits Senate action on a number of bills, lawmakers huddle almost daily behind closed doors on assembling a bill to reform the nation's health care system.

"We're working like Trojans on health care reform," Hoyer said late last week.