03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Hoyer: Senate Keeping House Empty

Count Steny Hoyer among those grumbling that the House isn't working enough, the Majority Leader told reporters Tuesday -- but blame the Senate.

"I want you all to know I'm not happy with it," Hoyer said at his weekly press briefing. "We passed numerous very substantive pieces of legislation, and we're waiting for them to get back."

That's not to say the House isn't working, Hoyer said, citing ongoing health care negotiations as "a heavy lift," but while they await conferences with the Senate on a wide variety of bills, House members don't have as much to do on the floor. "We're not going to make work. I'm not going to have people stand here and just twiddle their thumbs," he said.

Hoyer said his criticism was not directed at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- who has become the target of progressive groups now that Senate movement on health care reform has shifted in his direction -- but the deliberative nature of the chamber itself. "It's difficult to move things in the Senate," Hoyer said. "I think Sen. Reid has the most frustrating job in government in the United States of America."

Afghanistan, however, is one area where further delay is necessary, Hoyer said. He hit back against growing complaints by both Republicans and the military that Democrats are taking too long to weigh their options, arguing that the additional troops directed to Afghanistan under President Obama mark an improvement over what the Bush administration did for the region.

"My Republican colleagues, of course, abandoned their focus on Afghanistan for seven years. Seven years they let it drift. And did not resource it properly. And did not succeed," Hoyer said. "So this business of wringing your hands and saying, you're not doing what you need, we're doing much more than they did."

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