October 17, 2023

Chairman Aguilar Nominates Leader Hakeem Jeffries for Speaker of the House

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar delivered remarks on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives nominating Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries for Speaker. Below is a full transcript of his remarks.

CHAIRMAN AGUILAR: Mr. Speaker Pro [Tempore], with great respect for this institution, as Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, I am directed by the vote of that Caucus to present for election to the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the name of the Honorable Hakeem Jeffries, the pride of Crown Heights, a Representative from the state of New York. 


Mr. Speaker Pro [Tempore], this is not the history we wanted to make here in the House. It's something that none of us imagined when we were sworn into this office. We are here because the House has been thrown into chaos. We are here because this hallowed chamber has been led to a breaking point by two dangerous forces: extremism and partisanship.

The American people placed their faith in us to tackle their most pressing issues: lowering costs, growing the middle class and standing up to those set on delivering a national abortion ban. 

The choice before us is simple: come together on a bipartisan path forward or take us over the cliff. Abandon the extremism that is preventing us from getting things done or triple down on division and dysfunction.

A vote today to make the architect of a nationwide abortion ban, a vocal election denier and an insurrection insider to the Speaker of this House would be a terrible message to the country and our allies.


Mr. Speaker, it would send an even more troubling message to our enemies, that the very people who would seek to undermine democracy are rewarded with positions of immense power. 

We're talking about someone who has spent his entire career trying to hold our country back: putting our national security in danger, attempting government shutdown after government shutdown, wasting taxpayer dollars on baseless investigations with dead ends, authoring the very bill that would ban abortion nationwide without exceptions and inciting violence on this Chamber. 

Even leaders of his own party have called him a “legislative terrorist.”

He once said, “I didn't come to Congress to make more laws.” His words speak for themselves.

When New Yorkers recovering from Hurricane Sandy needed Congress to act, he said no.

When wildfires ravaged the West, destroying homes and businesses and those residents needed disaster assistance, he said no.

When the Mississippi River floods devastated the South and communities across state lines needed Congress to act, he said no.

When our veterans were suffering from disease and dying as a result of their service to our country, and Congress passed a bipartisan solution, he said no.

When our ally in Ukraine looked to Congress for additional support to help defeat Putin, he said no.

And just before Hamas’ brutal terrorist attack on Israel, he said no to fully funding military aid for our ally.

This body is debating elevating a Speaker nominee who has not passed a single bill in 16 years. These are not the actions of someone interested in governing or bettering the lives of everyday Americans. This is nothing less than the rejection of the oath that we swore to uphold as duly elected members of this body. But on this side of the aisle, and throughout this Chamber, I'm convinced, our oath still matters.

To fulfill our obligations to the American people, we have no choice today but to vote for a leader of both character and conviction. When the Congress first began, we proudly stood next to him as our Leader and made a promise to every American: House Democrats would work to find common ground on the issues that matter most to the American people whenever possible – that we would stand up to extremism whenever necessary.

Only Hakeem Jeffries can be trusted to keep his word. Only Hakeem Jeffries can lead us out of the chaos and towards a path of governance. 

It brings me immense pride to nominate our friend, the Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries as Speaker.


I’m not done yet.

He may just be the candidate with the most votes, but he is also the candidate with the most credibility. 

If the goal is to continue a 30-year march to hollow out our democratic institutions, weaken our democracy and embolden extremists, there's a candidate for you. If the goal is to continue taking marching orders from a twice-impeached former President with more than 90 pending felony charges, then there is a candidate for you.

The world is watching, Mr. Speaker Pro [Tempore]. Our allies in Ukraine and Israel are watching and waiting.


So, let's have this vote. But let's be clear: a vote for the gentleman from Ohio is a vote to turn your back on national security. It's a vote to turn your back on a bipartisan path to fund the government and avoid shutdowns, something we can only do if we reject his nomination.

House Democrats are in the minority. We realize that. If House Republicans wanted to elect a Speaker without us, then they could have. 

There is still a path forward for both Democrats and Republicans to come together to elect a Speaker who can unite us behind a common purpose: keeping the government open on a bipartisan compromise that won more than 300 votes just four months ago in this Chamber, taking an up-or-down vote on help so Israel can defeat Hamas and Ukraine can defeat Putin and reassuring the American people that their legislators have their backs. 

It's that simple, Mr. Speaker, and we can do it today.

Let's work together. Let's elect a Speaker who will reach out a hand of bipartisanship and deliver for the American people. That is why, once again, Mr. Speaker Pro [Tempore], I'm proud to nominate Hakeem Jeffries for Speaker, and I yield back.

Video of the full floor speech can be viewed here.