House minority whip Steny Hoyer, speaking with reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, said Democrats in Congress "didn't have the votes" in 2009 or 2010 to raise taxes, even though the party had a majority in both the Senate and the House and Barack Obama was president.

Congressional Democrats have recently argued for extending the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 a year while not extending the same cuts for those above that threshold, effectively raising taxes on individuals and small businesses. Republicans have pushed to extend all of the tax cuts. When asked why Democrats didn't pass their tax plan before the GOP took control of the House in 2011, Hoyer said his party didn't have the numbers.

"We didn’t have the votes to do so," Hoyer said. "Nobody around this table believes that because you have a majority in the United States Senate you can do things. You can’t. A majority in the United States Senate is 60. It’s even 60 for procedural votes. So neither the president nor Harry Reid nor, frankly, a member of the House was deluded of the fact that because we had a majority in the United States [Congress] that we could act and effect the policies that we wanted to do."

Hoyer was the House majority leader from 2007 to 2011. Senate majority leader Harry Reid last week refused to answer the same question.

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