February 07, 2024

Chairman Aguilar: House Democrats are ready to Finish the Job

LEESBURG, VA – Today, House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar, Vice Chair Ted Lieu, Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Whip Katherine Clark, DCCC Chair Suzan DelBene, Assistant Leader James E. Clyburn and DPCC Chair Joe Neguse held a press conference to open the House Democrats 2024 Issues Conference.

CHAIRMAN AGUILAR: Welcome, welcome. Welcome to my colleagues and thank you for joining us at the 2024 House Democratic Issues Conference. We're thrilled to be here in Congresswoman Wexton's district. Jennifer is such an incredible public servant, a fighter and we're grateful for her hospitality, along with the Virginia Delegation, in welcoming us here today. 

House Democrats are united, and we're coming together around an economic agenda that builds off of the progress that we've made since the pandemic. We began in 2024 with another strong jobs report, bringing the total number of jobs created under the Biden-Harris Administration to 14.8 million. Unemployment at record lows, inflation is cooling and wages are rising. But we know that not everyone is feeling the benefits of that economic recovery yet—and House Democrats are ready to finish the job. 

We're going to talk about our work to put People Over Politics: lowering costs, creating good-paying jobs, building affordable housing and implementing the landmark pieces of legislation that we passed to raise the quality of life for every American.

But none of that success would be possible without the leadership team. Leader Jeffries, Whip Clark, Vice Chair Lieu, Assistant Leader Clyburn, the DPCC and the entire leadership team. And all of us are grateful to the work of Suzan DelBene as she leads us to the path to reclaiming the majority in 2024. That's our focus as we move forward, and that's what will drive our discussions throughout the next few days. With that, happy to introduce Vice Chair Ted Lieu.

VICE CHAIR LIEU: Thank you, Chairman Aguilar, for your leadership. It is an honor to work with you. 

And I want to start out by saying that there is a lot of good news about the economy starting this year. Consumer sentiment is up, wages are up, job creation is up. And you know what else is up? The stock market. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones are setting record highs. And you know who's taking notice? Donald Trump. He's trying to take credit now for the stock market under the Biden-Harris Administration. And why is he doing something so ridiculous? Because he understands the economy is getting better, and he cannot stop it.

And that's because Democrats, when we were in control, put People Over Politics and we passed laws to help the American family go forward. From the Inflation Reduction Act to the CHIPS and Science Act to the infrastructure law – those laws are working and growing our economy. What are Republicans focused on? Stupid impeachments and banning abortions. And this Issues Conference is going to highlight the stark contrast between Democrats, who are putting People Over Politics, and Republicans, who are putting politics over people. 

And now, it's my great honor to introduce our brilliant and visionary leader, Hakeem Jeffries. He has unified the Democratic Caucus, and everyday he thinks about how we move the American family forward. He also stood up to MAGA Republican extremism. It was under Hakeem Jeffries’ leadership that the Democratic Caucus supplied the majority of votes to stop a catastrophic default on our debts. It was under Hakeem Jeffries’ leadership that the Democratic Caucus supplied the majority of votes to stop not one but two government shutdowns. And it's under Hakeem Jeffries’ leadership that America is going to see our best days yet to come. With that, I want you to hear from Leader Jeffries.

LEADER JEFFRIES: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you, Vice Chair Lieu, for your very generous words of introduction, for your leadership. Thank you, Chairman Aguilar, for once again convening us here as House Democrats for the 2024 Issues Conference. In my previous capacity as Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, I had the opportunity to preside over and put together, along with Katherine and then Pete, four different Issues Conference events. I'm glad to yield that responsibility to Chairman Aguilar, who's doing an incredible, incredible job. 

It's also an honor to be here with the distinguished leadership team who you will hear from as we gather united, committed and energized about the opportunities in front of us to continue to put People Over Politics, finish the job that we started in the last Congress, build a healthy economy, grow our middle class, of course, continue to fight for lower costs and for safer communities. 

The events of this week have once again established that there's a clear contrast between House Democrats and our Extreme MAGA Republican counterparts. House Democrats will continue to choose common sense solutions to solving problems on behalf of hardworking American families. House Republicans continue to choose chaos. House Democrats will continue to defend our democracy. House Republicans continue to choose dysfunction. And House Democrats will continue to work on the economy and making life better for everyday Americans while House Republicans continue to choose extremism. 

When we emerge from this conference, we will continue to have a clear plan of action. We look forward to interacting with President Biden, Vice President Harris, members of the Administration, advocates and stakeholders from all across the country with a clear vision for the mission that is in front of us to continue to deliver for the American people. And now, it's my great honor to yield to one of my classmates and good friends, partners in leadership, who has proven that she knows how to count and she knows how to unify Democrats on behalf of the American people. I yield to our distinguished Whip Katherine Clark.

WHIP CLARK: Good afternoon, everyone. It is a pleasure to be here in Virginia. And I want to thank Chairman Aguilar and Vice Chair Lieu for bringing us together, for organizing this conference, giving us the opportunity to collaborate, to strategize and to mobilize for the year ahead. And I want to thank the entire leadership team, Leader Clyburn, DPCC Chair Joe Neguse and I will get to Suzan DelBene, our fearless DCCC Chair, but a special thanks to Leader Jeffries for a year of skilled, steady, strong leadership throughout the MAGA mayhem. And yes, he is teaching me alliteration as we go.
2024 is a new year, but we face the same chaos from the House Majority. This MAGA majority has managed to be both the most extreme majority in modern House history and the least productive. In 2023, only three percent of the bills the House Majority passed became law. Contrast that to 2022, when Democrats were in the majority, and 45 percent of the bills we passed became law. And it is Democrats who have provided, as Vice Chair Lieu laid out, the majority of votes that avoided a default, avoided three GOP shutdowns, passed the National Defense Authorization Act and lifted 16 million children out of poverty with an expanded Child Tax Credit. Republicans can't count their own votes. So, instead, they count on us. They're unable to rally behind anything but extremism. 

House Democrats are unified because we share values. We share basic core beliefs. We show up for work for the same reason: to do the best by the people who sent us to Washington, to put People Over Politics, to grow the economy by growing the middle class and to build a country where everyone has a fair shot at success. We have an agenda that aligns with what the American people expect of their elected leaders: building safer communities by getting weapons of war off the street, lowering costs of child care, health care and housing and making reproductive freedom the law of the land. And tonight, I am proud to be hosting a session that will be discussing just that. And I hope tomorrow morning you will join us and the women leaders of our Caucus on how we will restore reproductive justice and stop the GOP’s march to a national abortion ban. Because that's what the American people want—leaders who will fight for freedom, a Congress that will help President Biden finish the job, not another do-nothing MAGA majority. 

In 2025, the People's House will get back to work for the American people, and it is a privilege to introduce the woman, the leader who is going to make it happen, our incredibly talented and tenacious DCCC Chair, Suzan DelBene.

CHAIR DELBENE: Thank you, Katherine, and good afternoon, everyone. It's great to be here with all of you. Thanks to the efforts of the entire House Democratic Caucus, we are well-positioned to have the right resources, the candidates, the message and the momentum to take back the House in November for the American people. 

The DCCC recently announced an incredibly strong year of fundraising, having outraised the NRCC by $30 million and bringing in a total of $121 million in 2023. In addition to the committee’s strong fundraising, Democratic Frontliners and challengers, on average, have outraised Republican opponents last quarter. With our resources, we will amplify our message and turn out voters. We're working to ensure that we reach a diverse coalition of voters through our P.O.W.E.R. The People initiative and our In It Together hubs. These programs represent a $35 million investment to persuade and mobilize communities of color, ensuring that we are strategic and intentional about how we engage voters to combat misinformation. We know these communities are critical to our Democratic coalition, and we aren't taking a single voter for granted. 

We also announced our first slate of Red To Blue candidates last week. We have multiple paths to take back the majority, and the geographic diversity of this list includes candidates from Iowa, Michigan, Montana, California, Arizona, New York and more, and it reflects the many opportunities we have. These candidates also reflect the broad and diverse Democratic coalition, presenting a clear contrast to the chaos, dysfunction and extremism of their Republican opponents. And the first real opportunity to demonstrate our momentum and resolve is just a few days away. The people of New York’s Third Congressional District deserve responsible leadership and someone they can trust to represent them. Former Representative Tom Suozzi is the perfect fit for the district. He has a proven record of delivering for his community. He's run a very strong campaign in an incredibly short amount of time. We're doing all we can to engage voters and send him back to Congress. 

This election is about our rights, our freedoms, our democracy and our future, and the DCCC is committed to taking back the House this November and ensuring that Leader Jeffries becomes Speaker Jeffries. So, I want to thank all of my colleagues for their incredible support and hard work. Thank all of you for joining us at the Issues Conference. And now, it's my honor to introduce someone who has been a longtime leader of the Democratic Caucus who has been a mentor to all of us and a strong voice standing up for our communities across the country, our Assistant Leader Jim Clyburn.

ASSISTANT LEADER CLYBURN: Thank you very much to the many, and let me thank all of our leadership team here for the tremendous efforts that they are making on behalf of the American people. Last night, I had the great honor of introducing Leader Jeffers to a pretty big crowd of people of upbeat people who were looking forward to this campaign season cause there is so much enthusiasm it puts to great doubt all that we have been hearing to the contrary. As many of you know, I saw the ground in everything that we do in the history of this great country of ours. And last week, I went to my bookshelf and I pulled off Martin Luther King Jr.’s last book. Everybody talks about his dream, but in his last book, it was entitled, “Where do we go from here? Chaos or Community?” And as I looked through that book thinking about where we are as a country, where the political environment is right now. 

The other side of the aisle, as the Leader said in his presentation on the floor yesterday, is all about chaos. Our side of the aisle is about looking for ways to build community, and as prescient as well as Martin Luther King Jr. was in so many of his writings and his speeches, nothing is more prescient than that last book. And I think that what the Democrats are doing is demonstrating how we repair lives and build communities. And that's what our agenda is all about. 

President Biden has been talking recently about promises made, promises kept. And what we're going to be doing over the next several months is reminding people of the promises that were made and reminding them of the promises that have been kept. But we're also going to be talking about the way forward. Let me give you just one example. President Biden talked about eliminating student loan debt. Everybody has been writing about that one little part of the promise that got stopped by the United States Supreme Court. Nobody has been writing, until recently, about the other four parts of the promise that resulted in $137 billion in debt elimination for 3.7 million people. But we are leaning forward on that, and you will hear in a few days of the projection for the next four years, another 75,000 borrowers having their debt eliminated every two months. Another 175,000 for the next four years. 

Promises made, promises kept. However, leaning forward as we go off into the future. And with that, let me yield now back to our Chair. 

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