House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer is staffing up after losing two top advisers last year.
The Maryland Democrat is promoting Austin Burnes to director of legislative operations and Shuwanza Goff to deputy director of legislative operations.
“I congratulate Austin Burnes and Shuwanza Goff on a pair of well-earned promotions,” Hoyer said in a statement. “Both Austin and Shuwanza have been key assets in my leadership office for years and they have excelled in the variety of roles they have occupied. With Austin as director of legislative operations and Shuwanza as the deputy, I am confident that we will have an organized, responsive and strong Democratic Whip Floor operation as the new session of Congress begins.”
The staff announcements come after Hoyer promoted long-time aide Alexis Covey-Brandt to serve as his chief of staff. Covey-Brandt, previously the floor director, replaced Terry Lierman, a former Senate Appropriations Committee staffer and Maryland Democratic Party chairman, in the top job this year. Hoyer’s deputy chief of staff Stacey Farnen Bernards left to join Honeywell International late last year. Despite the back-to-back losses, aides close to Hoyer insist they do not signal that he is leaving Congress any time soon.
One Democratic source said the recent hiring announcements suggest that Hoyer is “ramping up for the new year.”
Burnes, who replaces Covey-Brandt as the staffer tasked with running floor operations, is a Maryland native and Wake Forest University graduate who started as an intern with Hoyer in 2004 and worked his way up to answering the phones in 2005.
“Working on the floor, you’re in the middle of the action, and day-in and day-out everything’s different, and everything’s changing” Burnes said in an interview.
Goff, who will be Burnes’ deputy, started with Hoyer in 2008 and most recently served as a floor assistant. Goff is a University of Tennessee graduate and has a master’s degree from American University.
“There is much work to be done this year, and I look forward to serving Mr. Hoyer and the entire Democratic caucus in my new role,” Goff said in a statement.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.