April 18, 2023

Chairman Aguilar: House Republicans need to put aside their extremism and start governing on behalf of the American people

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar and Vice Chair Ted Lieu held a press conference with Reps. Morgan McGarvey (KY-03), Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) and Pat Ryan (NY-19) on the need to put Kids Over Guns and House Republican attacks on reproductive freedom.

CHAIR AGUILAR: Good morning. We’ve hit 100 days of House Republicans in the majority and the American people have very little to show for it. The steady progress we’re making—jobs are up, inflation is cooling and the cost of life-saving medications are down—is a result of the work of House Democrats and the Biden-Harris Administration. At the same time, the urgent challenges our country is facing have been made worse by Republican extremism. 

Congressman Morgan McGarvey is here today to talk about the horrific shooting in his community, and why we cannot afford to let House Republicans continue to put guns over our kids. And Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher and Pat Ryan are here to talk about the disastrous ruling in Texas that is another step towards a national abortion ban that Republicans have promised. All three of these Members are incredible public servants who consistently put People Over Politics. 

 House Democrats have a plan to address these two crises: pass commonsense gun legislation and keep weapons of war off the streets and restore the rights that women have through the Women’s Health Protection Act. And the American people are with us on these issues. 

In the next 100 days, House Republicans need to put aside their extremism and start governing on behalf of the American people. I’d like to turn it over to Vice Chair Ted Lieu.  

VICE CHAIR LIEU: Thank you, Chairman Aguilar. Where's the Republican budget proposal? Democrats, weeks ago, put out a budget. President Biden's budget is going to slash the deficit by $3 trillion dollars and continue to have America lead in 21st century. And President Biden has a track record of slashing the deficit because last term, he slashed it by $1.7 trillion. We think it's a great budget proposal.  

Now, Republicans don't have to like it, but they got to at least have a counter. They have to at least put out what they want or else we can’t even negotiate. So, I’ll give you an analogy. It's like let's say we're negotiating the price of a car and you offer $27,000 for the car. And then weeks later the other side comes and says, ‘Why are you stalling?’ And you’re like, ‘W-T-F, I just offered you.’ So, we need to know what the Republican counteroffer is. And instead of working on that important issue and instead of trying to avert a debt limit crisis or working on the scourge of gun violence, what are they going to do? They’re going to put on the floor of the House a bill to ban some transgender kids from participating in sports. This is not where the American people are at. And this is a creepy bill. The only way to enforce this bill is to empower school officials to inspect the genitals of kids. This is a creepy bill. Let's work on actual things that matter to the American people – the debt limit, protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, reducing the scourge of gun violence. And we have Morgan McGarvey here from Kentucky who's going to talk about reducing gun violence.

REP. MCGARVEY: Good morning. Thank you to Chairman Aguilar, to Vice Chairman Lieu, for having me here today. One week ago, my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky was ripped apart by two mass shootings. The first was at Old National Bank where a gunman walked in and killed five innocent people, injured eight others including LMPD Officer Nick Wilt, who is still struggling after being shot with an AR-15 in his head. The grief didn't go away. Just a few days later, Louisville suffered a second mass shooting where six people were shot and two people were killed, including a 17-year-old boy, in Chickasaw Park in Louisville. I am heartbroken for my community. We have lost moms, dads, children, spouses, friends, loved ones, our neighbors, to senseless acts of gun violence. Louisville is such a close-knit community. We are one degree of separation away from everybody. When we ask you what school you went to, we mean high school. I lost my good friend Tommy Elliot in the shooting at Old National Bank and knew several others who were shot or who miraculously managed to escape unharmed. 

There have been 160 mass shootings in 2023 alone. That is more mass shootings than there are days in this calendar year. We cannot accept this as normal. I was here in Washington D.C. last Monday when news of the shooting broke. I happened to have my kids. I needed to get back to the district immediately and so, there was no sugarcoating it. And I said, ‘I have to go there's been a mass shooting’ and all the color drained from my fifth-grade daughter's face and she looked at me and she said, ‘Oh no, which school?’ That shouldn't be the reaction from our children. And the next day at school, when my wife dropped her off, she looked back in the car and said, ‘Please be safe at work, mommy.’ In what world is this normal? That we are dropping our kids off at school afraid for their safety and they are afraid for ours? 

Last week, tearfully, at a press conference Dr. Jason Smith, the trauma surgeon at the University of Louisville said, ‘We are weary. We are weary from going out into the waiting room and telling someone their loved one isn't coming home and hearing the screams of mommy and daddy. We are doing nothing and that's not working. Please help.’ We have to do more. Take my word for it. Take the word from the other Members of Congress who have suffered the same thing in their communities where their communities are grieving, and their friends and families and neighbors are grieving. Enough is enough. We have to do more to keep our communities safe and doing nothing isn't working. We must put public safety over guns. We must put kids over guns. We must put people over guns and act to keep all of our communities safe and keep this from happening again. Thank you, and now, I'll pass it off to my colleague and friend, Lizzie Fletcher from Texas.

REP. FLETCHER: Good morning. With the unprecedented order issued in the Northern District of Texas, my home state of Texas is once again at the epicenter of efforts to take away our freedom to make our own decisions about our bodies, our families, our futures and to deprive us of access to services, information and care that enable us to do that. The Fifth Circuit panel's partial state order of the Northern District order reinforces the dubious legal arguments in the lower court's ruling and deeply flawed opinion. It undermines FDAs drug approval process and limits access to mifepristone for too many Americans who need it. Now, we await an emergency ruling from the Supreme Court where the Department of Justice has taken action to defend the FDA’s scientific judgment and to protect Americans' access to mifepristone and to safe and effective reproductive health care. The Supreme Court made the right decision to stay the prior court's ruling on Friday. The lower court ruling jeopardizes the health, dignity and freedom of women and families across the country in all 50 states. And that's why I'm so glad to join my friend Congressman Pat Ryan in introducing the Protecting Reproductive Freedom Act. 
Since mifepristone received FDA approval more than 20 years ago, women across America have used it for abortion care, including for miscarriage treatment, and it is used in more than half of all abortions in the states where abortion remains legal today. It is critical that we do everything we can to preserve and protect the FDA's authority to approve safe and effective medication in general and this abortion medication in particular. 

The Protecting Reproductive Freedom Act expresses the sense of Congress that medication abortion was appropriately approved and is appropriately regulated by the FDA and addresses the limitations reinstated by the court rulings requiring in-person dispensation of the medication. I want to thank Chair Aguilar and Vice Chair Lieu for highlighting this important issue and this legislation and I'm pleased to turn over the podium to Representative Ryan to tell you more about it. 

REP. RYAN: Good morning, everyone. Thank you, Congressman Fletcher. Thanks to my colleagues. Thank you, Chair, for having us here.

I love this country. I risked my life for this country, for the core American freedoms and rights that all of our previous generations risked their lives for, rallied for, protested for. And being here, hearing this breaks my heart, as someone that loves this country, that rights are being ripped away, that kids are being killed. This is a core issue of freedom. And the Democrats are proudly, clearly, unequivocally standing for freedom, in particular, reproductive freedom. And it's now very clear, they used to try to be subtle about it, but it's now very clear that the far right is hell-bent on a national abortion ban. And this is a moment where all Americans should be outraged that after centuries of advancing and giving more rights to our fellow Americans, we have people trying to rip them away. I have faith in the American people. We've seen this now in election and referendum after referendum, from Kansas to a special election that I unexpectedly, to many, won in August in New York, to Mary Peltola in Alaska, to a few weeks ago in Wisconsin. The American people want freedom, particularly reproductive. Women don't want to be told, by a politician or a doctor, what to do with their bodies and their private health care decisions. So, I'm proud to stand with my colleague, Congresswoman Fletcher, with all my Democratic colleagues, and say we are for reproductive freedom and we are going to have to double down and triple down in this fight because just a few days ago in Florida, an even more extreme ban was passed and we know that other states are doing the same. So, I want the American people to know we are with you, we hear you and we're going to continue to fight to protect your rights and freedoms. And thank you for the opportunity to be here.

Video of the full press conference and Q&A can be viewed here.