April 16, 2024

Chairman Aguilar: It's time for Speaker Johnson to do the right thing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar and Vice Chair Ted Lieu held a press conference alongside newly-elected DPCC Chair Debbie Dingell to urge Extreme MAGA Republicans to advance national security funding for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, and humanitarian assistance for the innocent civilians in Gaza.

CHAIRMAN AGUILAR: Good morning. Pleased to be joined by our friend and colleague and newly-elected DPCC Chair, Debbie Dingell. Our classmate — Ted Lieu and Debbie and I all came in together in the class of 2014.  I’m honored to be standing up here with her. Congratulations, Debbie. 

I want to begin this week by condemning, in the strongest possible terms, Iran's unprovoked attack against Israel. As missiles and drones rained down on our closest ally in the Middle East over the weekend, the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship was on full display. We're grateful to President Biden and our military commanders for their work with Israel and regional allies to ensure that lives were saved and damage was minimized.

But Congress must show the rest of the world that our support for the safety and security of the Israeli people will never waver. We need to act immediately on aid to Israel, humanitarian assistance for the people in Gaza and aid for Ukraine. We must send a strong message, not just for our adversary in Iran, but to Russia and China as well. 

Every day that we delay the consideration of aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, we jeopardize America's role in the free world. Nothing is more important to the pro-Putin wing of the House Republican Conference than reelecting Donald Trump. Not American exceptionalism, not the security of our allies and not even democracy. The same group that has undermined our ability to support our allies are pushing Russia propaganda on the House floor, and that's what their own members say. 

It's time for Speaker Johnson to do the right thing and to put this critical funding for an up or down vote.

I'll yield to Vice Chair Ted Lieu.

VICE CHAIR LIEU: Thank you, Chairman Aguilar. 

And I agree with what Chairman Aguilar said about the attack on Israel from the Islamic regime in Iran. They sent approximately 120 drones, 30 cruise missiles and 120 ballistic missiles at Israel. The reason that most of those drones, missiles were shot down is because of the skill of the Israeli Defense Force with funding from the United States for their Iron Dome system, the Arrow system, David’s Sling system, and that's why it's so important that we continue to give Israel the funding it needs to defend itself, including passing the supplemental package that the Senate passed on a bipartisan basis. That's the fastest way to get funding to Israel. 

The other reason that the attack largely failed is because of the skill of the United States Armed Forces in helping to defend Israel, as well as our regional allies, Jordan and the United Kingdom, that participated in making sure that these weapons of missiles and drones were shot down before they could land in Israeli soil. Some did land, and Iran needs to make sure that they never ever attack Israel again. And one way to do that is to help Israel defend itself, and we call on Speaker Johnson to simply put the Senate bill on the Floor. If he did that, it will pass with more than a two-thirds vote. 

Now, it is my extreme pleasure and honor to introduce the new DPCC Chair, Debbie Dingell. As Chairman Aguilar said, we came in together with Debbie in the freshman class. I served with Debbie on the DPCC for four years. She did a fantastic job as the DPCC Co-Chair. She's going to do an amazing job as DPCC chair. I look forward to working with Debbie, and we’re going to hear her speak now.

DPCC CHAIR DINGELL: Thanks, Ted. It's very unusual for me not to have a big voice, but I’ve been losing it. 

I want to, first of all, say how happy I am to be here with Pete and Ted, who have been close friends since the day that I walked in here, I'm very excited to be working with them. Ted and I were Co-Chairs of the DPCC, and I think it's really important to say that I am a partner with Representative Lauren Underwood, Veronica Escobar and Lori Trahan as the Co-Chairs and we are all going to be united. We're going to be a girl team, actually. And for the last year and a half, they have been working tirelessly and done great work along with our former Co-Chair Joe Neguse who was Chair of the DPCC and is now Assistant Leader. 

What we're trying to do is to help our Caucus communicate with Americans across the country, and to really demonstrate that our Caucus is putting People Over Politics. I'm really looking forward to working with them and these guys.

You know, the University of Michigan won this year, in case you missed it, in football. This is a highlight today, but like the highlight of my life was standing up there at the championship. And I said to the team, “Jim Harbaugh taught you all one thing: the value of teamwork. And that's a lesson that he teaches all of us: teamwork creates victors.” Go Blue. Okay. That's what we're going to do here too. Teamwork is going to create victors, and we're going to go blue this year. 

Hakeem is going to be Speaker. Katherine is going to be the Majority Leader, but we got to help make sure our message is breaking through. And here’s the reality, the Republican Caucus, their message is chaos. We are united in our commitment every single day to lower everyday costs for families, for everybody to be having access to and expand access to health care and lower prescription drug prices, protect caregiving, both for child care and senior care, protect our democracy and strengthen our national security, and not strengthen it by total chaos and even trying to sort out what bills you’re trying to vote on the Floor. 

As the world becomes increasingly dangerous and unstable, we must continue to stand with our democratic allies. The Ukrainians have bravely pushed back against the Russians. You know that we are seeing dangerous spots all over the world, Iran's attack last weekend. The world needs to know that America is standing with them protecting democracy. 

So, thank you very much, and we can't abandon those people in their hour of need. 

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