May 10, 2023

Chairman Aguilar: MAGA Republicans are driving the country to default

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar and Vice Chair Ted Lieu held a leadership press conference on House Republicans and Speaker Kevin McCarthy holding the American people hostage and driving the country to a devastating default.

CHAIRMAN AGUILAR: Good morning. Pleased to be joined with Vice Chair Ted Lieu today. House Republicans, over the past two weeks, have been on the defensive. The American people are outraged that House Republicans voted to cut Medicaid, take food off the tables of working families, roll back 100,000 manufacturing jobs, lay off thousands of first responders and eliminate 108,000 public school teaching jobs. I’ll let the Vice Chair speak to the veterans’ health care cuts in a moment.

We are here today with a warning for Senate Republicans. Because, once again, it appears that folks on the other side of the Capitol are underestimating how reckless and extreme this group of House Republicans is. 

But think back to the omnibus fight just last December. House Republicans walked away from the negotiating table and showed us they are not just unwilling, they are unable to govern. America narrowly avoided a Republican-led government shutdown only because the Senate decided to join House Democrats to do the right thing. Then-Leader McCarthy could not be seen supporting the Omnibus because he needed the Freedom Caucus votes to become Speaker. Nothing has changed – in fact, his position has only hardened.

Senate Republicans are putting their heads in the sand if they think that the extremists within their party will have a change of heart.  If Kevin McCarthy is forced to choose between holding power in his Speakership or taking us closer to default, we know he’s going to choose default. The American people know that as well. House Republicans are on a path toward default. The question before us is will Senate Republicans take the wheel? 

VICE CHAIR LIEU: Thank you, Chairman Aguilar. I previously served on active duty in the United States military for a little over four years and then stayed in the reserves for an additional 21 years. These cuts and the Republicans' Default on America Act will be devastating to veterans. Twenty-two percent cuts in the bill mean up to 30 million fewer visits by veterans to the VA, stopping VA construction projects, longer wait times for veterans. And what you see now are Republicans who voted for it and they regret that they voted for this bill because now they understand how devastating these cuts to veterans are. 

Now, they're claiming, somehow, this bill won't cut funding to veterans and they're lying. And how do we know that? Math. So, veterans groups said, ‘Please exempt VA from your bill,’ and they refused to. That's why numerous veterans groups, such as Disabled American Veterans, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and so many others oppose this bill. And the reason Republicans did not exempt veterans from these cuts is because if you don't cut defense and you don't cut veterans, then to make their numbers work, you have to cut the rest of government from thirty-three percent to fifty percent. They know that's unworkable. They know they have to cut veterans in the bill based on the top line numbers that they wrote into the bill. Also, Section 201 specifically just removes billions of dollars of funding from the VA. So, there's also that.

So, it's very clear this bill makes cuts to veterans' funding, and it's going to be devastating to veterans, and that's why you see a number of Republicans now trying to somehow say that the bill doesn't say what it says. Well, it does. In addition, there’s math as well. 


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