October 08, 2023

Chairman Aguilar: House Democrats are leading, House Republicans can't govern

LA JOLLA, CA — Today, House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar joined ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos to discuss House Democrats' commitment to move forward from the Extreme MAGA Republican chaos and work in a bipartisan way to deliver for American families.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Aguilar, thank you for joining us this morning. You just heard Ken Buck right there say that he wants the Republican Conference to come to an agreement on spending before they elect a Speaker. It sounds to me at least like that could take some time.

CHAIRMAN AGUILAR: Well, let me just first say that Tuesday was a sad day for the House of Representatives writ large. But clearly, based on what Ken Buck said, it's going to be some time. And I would just note that Republicans and Democrats did come together, Democrats providing a majority of votes to avoid the debt limit that sets the spending levels. So, I don't know what Republicans are planning to do to revisit those spending levels that are now law. Democrats provided the votes to avoid the debt limit. Democrats provided the votes to pass the continuing resolution to fund the government. Democrats are the ones leading here. This is a Republican House Conference who has an inability to govern and to lead. That's why we're in this moment. Our constituents didn't send us here to vacate the Chair. They sent us to Washington D.C. to work. That's what House Democrats want to do. That's what we look forward to doing.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But you heard Ken Buck right there say that even if the Republicans agree to the spending bills, it's not going to lead to a government shutdown. Do you agree with that?

CHAIRMAN AGUILAR: Well, I think there's an element within the House Republican Conference that is dead set on shutting down our government, to walking up to the breaching the debt limit or not funding the government. There were many of them in the public domain who were cheering for us to shut down the government. That's just terrible for the country. It's terrible for our governance, and it just shows an inability to lead among the House Republican Conference.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Given the fact that there were so few House Republicans who were required to actually take down Speaker McCarthy. He just had eight votes against him, yet it imperiled his speakership. What do you make of those critics who say Democrats should have come together to save Speaker McCarthy? Be careful what you wish for now that he's gone?

CHAIRMAN AGUILAR: Yeah, I just don't buy that for the good of the institution. This is someone who – Kevin McCarthy did not vote to certify the election. Kevin McCarthy walked away from a deal that he negotiated with President Biden. This is somebody who has an inability to govern and to lead his conference.  I don't buy that for the good of the institution because this is someone who just didn't have the credibility to show that he put the institution first. He would not work even until the bitter end. Hours before the vote, he said that he wasn't going to ask for Democratic votes. And by the way, I would just say 220 Republicans enabled Kevin McCarthy because they're the ones that changed the rules. They're the ones that created this threshold where one person can topple the Speaker. And Kevin McCarthy did it all for one reason: to be Speaker. He negotiated that rule change, and he got 220 Republicans to go along with it to start the year.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, we just heard Ken Buck say that whoever is going to win is going to have to get there with the support of about 220 Republicans this time around, as well. So, what difference will be, whether it's Steve Scalise or Jim Jordan?

CHAIRMAN AGUILAR: Well, that's something for the Republican Conference to figure out. Our job as House Democrats is not to pick their leader. I nominated – I had the privilege of nominating our Democratic Leader, Hakeem Jeffries, to be Speaker. I plan to do that on behalf of the House Democratic Caucus again. Our job is not to pick the Republican Speaker, but I would agree with Liz Cheney and what she said about Jim Jordan. I think it would be dangerous for democracy if he is Speaker, but that's something that Republicans are going to have to figure out.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Pete Aguilar, thanks for your time this morning. 


Video of the full interview can be viewed here.