October 18, 2023

Chairman Aguilar: House Democrats want to open up the People’s House

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar joined MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes to discuss House Democrats' unity behind Leader Hakeem Jeffries and his vision for a bipartisan path forward while rejecting MAGA Extremist Jim Jordan.

CHRIS HAYES: Congressman, I know that you, obviously folks on the Democratic side are not being you know, you're not part of the plan here. This is a sort of a partisan affair or has been up until now. Do you have an understanding of what tomorrow will bring?

CHAIRMAN AGUILAR: Well, I'm learning from Ryan Nobles there, too. We know what has been made public, which is we may have votes tomorrow and that Jim Jordan is dead set on making his colleagues vote. And just as the reporting has mentioned, and we're, you know, we're feet from the House Chamber right now, and he keeps losing votes. He cannot count to 217. And so, we're in this position, and this holding pattern, because Jim Jordan is the most extreme Member on that side of the aisle. He is the leader of the ‘Insurrection Caucus’ over there, and it's just terribly unfortunate that this is the position that we're in and that Republicans have elevated. And I just think it says a lot about the group that 199 of them still say, “Yeah, that's our guy.”

CHRIS HAYES: You have made, you've made overtures about some sort of bipartisan resolution – Hakeem Jeffries, Minority Leader, has. But I can't tell if this is, like, rhetoric, where you're saying, “Well, it would be nice,” or is there any active conversation, plan, backchannels happening right now with any Republican Members about some bipartisan resolution to this?

CHAIRMAN AGUILAR: There are always active conversations with Members on the other side of the aisle. After 15 days without a Speaker, I would hope that there are conversations happening, and I know that they are. And so, you know, our hope is as Leader Jeffries laid out, our first primary responsibility this week was to make sure the head of the MAGA circus, Jim Jordan, didn't become Speaker. Our second objective is to make sure we open up the People's House. So, we are having conversations, private conversations with our colleagues to make sure that that happens. They control the votes here. And so, it's up to them to see what the path forward looks like. But this is more than just, you know, empty rhetoric and talking points. This is a real desire to want to make this place function, make the Congress, make the House function again and to make sure that we are carrying on the people's business because we have such urgent priorities to do. We have to make sure we avoid a government shutdown. We have to make sure we're providing aid to Israel and Ukraine. Those are the things that, by the way, have 300 votes plus in Congress. Let's just make sure that we have an opportunity to deliver for the American public.

CHRIS HAYES: Yesterday, or the day before, I think it was yesterday, Hakeem Jeffries explicitly referenced the current Speaker Pro Tempore, Patrick McHenry, as someone that he respected, that Democrats respect. There is clearly some plan being circulated to extend the powers of the Speaker Pro Tempore, you know, through the end of January to basically run the House like the Speaker. It was interesting to me that both Newt Gingrich and John Boehner endorsed that plan, not that they have any say in it either way. What do you make of that plan? What do you think of it?

CHAIRMAN AGUILAR: Well, this isn't just about one person. I think a lot of us have respect for Patrick McHenry and how he's trying to conduct himself and organize this election. That can't be an easy job that he was elevated to. But you know, our primary responsibility is to make sure that the House functions, so it's not about one person. We will wait to see if a Republican introduces a resolution to do that. I've read the public reporting that you have as well, but the details matter for House Democrats. The language of these policies and proposals matter, and so we'll see what it says.

CHRIS HAYES: Can I ask, this is like super in the weeds, and you may not know and I don't know if anyone knows. But how does that even work under the rules? Like, are the rules that every recess, you come back and vote for Speaker? Can someone introduce a resolution? Like, I don't even actually understand procedurally this liminal space in which you currently exist?

CHAIRMAN AGUILAR: Sure. Potentially, this could be. Right now, the highest order of business is electing a Speaker. And so, someone could offer a privileged resolution to move to an election, just like Elise Stefanik has done to have the Republicans nominate Jim Jordan again, or someone else could offer a resolution that does this, and there is precedent for it. There used to be a Speaker Pro Tempore designated, at times, when the Speaker was out of session for a week or a month. It hasn't been done since the 90s, but that individual would function just as the Speaker does for a limited time period until the Speaker came back from vacation, and this is, you know, precedent from years ago.

CHRIS HAYES: All right, Congressman Pete Aguilar, thank you very much.


Video of the full interview can be viewed here.