November 02, 2023

Chairman Aguilar: House Democrats are committed to defending democracy abroad

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar and Vice Chair Ted Lieu held a press conference on House Republicans’ extreme and unprecedented demands to condition aid to Israel.

CHAIRMAN AGUILAR: Good morning. Pleased to be joined with Vice Chair Ted Lieu this morning. I wanted to say that House Democrats are committed to defending democracy abroad and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies. America's leadership on the world stage is being threatened. I said this during my [nominating] speeches that some of the greatest threats we face are through extremism and partisanship, and we're seeing that play out with our new Speaker today. 

This time they're seeking to condition life-saving aid to Israel for the sole purpose of making it easier for billionaires to cheat on their taxes. According to the Congressional Budget Office, their bill is not an offset, and the corresponding cuts in revenues would actually increase our deficit by $12.5 billion. Let's keep this in mind as the deadline for government funding approaches and House Republicans pretend to care about spending. They're leaving the Ukrainian people high and dry in their war to stop Vladimir Putin and preventing the United States from bolstering our ally in Taiwan against Beijing's aggression. 

After 22 days of extreme MAGA Republicans holding this institution hostage, House Democrats are ready to get to work to deliver for the most pressing issues of the American people: lowering costs, funding our government and making sure that we are sending aid to our allies without conditions, not playing political games like the Speaker is doing. 

We're learning a lot about this new Speaker this week with these first legislative decisions, and this has been a complete and total disaster. We look forward to working in a bipartisan way to send aid to our allies abroad. This bill today is not that vehicle. Vice Chair Ted Lieu.

VICE CHAIR LIEU: Thank you, Chairman Aguilar. When Democrats were in control, we put People Over Politics and passed a number of laws to move the American family forward, such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. What do we get when Republicans are in control? They brought our nation to the brink of a nationwide default on our debts. They brought our nation to the brink of a government shutdown. And at the middle of this month, once again, we're facing yet another government shutdown. 

So, we ask the Republicans to adhere to the deal that then Speaker McCarthy and President Biden negotiated that was literally signed into law and to pass appropriations bills in line with those agreements. And if they don't do that, we're going to be facing yet another government shutdown, and this is tragic for the American people. It will hurt our economy and make sure that we are no longer a leader in the free world. 

Second, I want to mention, a thing I want to mention, is that on Monday, the Biden-Harris Administration issued a sweeping Executive Order on artificial intelligence. I commend the Administration for issuing this order. It has a number of elements that I and many other Members of Congress asked for. This summer, Congressmembers Zoe Lofgren, Haley Stevens and I wrote a letter to the Administration, asking them to incorporate the National Institute of Standards and Technologies’ AI risk management framework into the federal government. This Executive Order essentially does that and asks NIST to adapt and put out their standards and make sure that other agencies have standards for how they regulate AI, how they have federal vendors deal with AI and how we can make AI safer while harnessing all the benefits of AI. And with that, I will turn it back to Chairman Aguilar.

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