Steny Hoyer was born in New York City and now resides in Mechanicsville, Md. He earned a bachelor's from the University of Maryland in 1963 and a law degree from Georgetown University in 1966. That same year, he began his private law practice and was elected to the state Senate for the first of three terms.
He left the state Senate in 1978 to run unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor.
Hoyer won a special election to the U.S. House in May 1981 and is the longest-serving member of Maryland's congressional delegation.
He was named minority whip in 2002 after Rep. Nancy Pelosi became minority leader. In 2006, after Democrats won control of the House, he was elected House majority leader.
Hoyer is a widower and has three children.
Steny Hoyer's liberal streak and campaign skills have helped him climb to become the No. 2 Democrat in the House.
With Democrats now in the minority, Hoyer is the Democratic whip.
Hoyer, whose district is near the nation's capital, often sticks up for federal workers at a time when the federal government is considering cuts.
Combined with other bills House Republicans have proposed to further limit federal wages and benefits, the total cost to civil servants could be $134 billion over the next decade, Hoyer said in February 2012.
"The ongoing efforts to target federal workers will substantially undermine our ability to recruit and retain the quality of people we need," said Hoyer, whose district encompassing some of the Washington suburbs is home to thousands of government employees.
Hoyer has criticized Republicans for failing to do more to get the economy going, and he has been a strong supporter of President Barack Obama.
"Eighty-five, eighty-six percent of people are upset with Congress. I'm with them," Hoyer said in January 2012. "We had a president put a jobs bill on the agenda in September. We're now 120-plus days later and the Republicans refuse to put it on the table so we can consider it. And in the U.S. Senate, it's dysfunctional."
Hoyer has dismissed talk by Republicans of trying to repeal the 2010 health care reform bill as wishful thinking.
In September of 2011, Hoyer noted that the Affordable Care Act is delivering lower costs to more seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare.
"Health reform is delivering positive results for Maryland's seniors and people with disabilities, helping to lower health care costs by providing free preventative care and a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs," Hoyer said at the time. "While Republicans have voted several times to end Medicare and raise health care costs for seniors, Democrats have worked hard to strengthen this critical program, and today's report confirms that those efforts are making seniors' health care more affordable and accessible here in Maryland and throughout the nation."
As the No. 2 Democrat, Hoyer is responsible for unifying the Democratic Caucus and delivering the Democratic message.
Hoyer counts among his career achievements the passage in 1990 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which he sponsored. He also was the lead House sponsor of the Help America Vote Act, a federal election reform bill that President George W. Bush signed into law in 2002.
Hoyer is a devoted party member and was a faithful defender of President Bill Clinton during independent counsel Kenneth Starr's investigation of allegations about Clinton's relationship with a White House intern.
Despite his national focus, Hoyer has not forgotten his constituents. He has used his leadership position to protect military bases critical to the economy of his district from being shut down during base closing proceedings.
American Conservative Union Rating: 4
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 80
Recent winning percentages for office currently held: 64% (2010), 74% (2008), 83% (2006).
(Last updated by Brian Witte on April 17, 2012.)