May 23, 2023

Chairman Aguilar: Speaker McCarthy needs to get serious before he sends the country spiraling into a recession

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar and Vice Chair Ted Lieu held a leadership press conference on Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s latest extremist demands in debt ceiling negotiations that are taking the nation closer to a devastating default.

CHAIRMAN AGUILAR: Always pleased to be joined by the Vice Chair, who will answer all your difficult questions. 

As I've said before from this podium, Speaker McCarthy is beholden to the most extreme members of his conference. Last week, we saw proof of that. On Thursday, the House Freedom Caucus, in between drafting impeachment articles and defunding a program to help sick veterans get health care, called for a pause in negotiations. On Friday, the Speaker complied, and his emissaries stormed out of the negotiating session. 

Since then, they've added new extreme demands to the ransom list, including provisions of the partisan Child Deportation Act, which passed without a single Democratic vote. The Speaker insists that there won't be draconian cuts and yet, continues to say spending levels must go down. His position is simply untenable. Based on what Republicans have shown us with their appropriations bills, we are looking at a 30 percent cut across the board to the remaining domestic programs. That's based on what we know. 

The chaos and confusion have now drifted into the committee room. Four appropriations bills are now on pause, and full committee markups have now been delayed. House Democrats are not going to sign onto devastating cuts for teachers, food assistance or Medicaid. 

Speaker McCarthy needs to get serious before he sends the country spiraling into a recession. 

VICE CHAIR LIEU: Thank you, Chairman Aguilar. Do you remember the last time when Democrats controlled the chamber, and we went to the brink of defaulting on the debt and crashing the economy under Republican presidents? Yeah, me neither. Democrats aren't extreme. 

This is beyond the norm. And if you describe this as a negotiation of both sides' issues, you're misleading the public because Republicans see this button here that they push and crash the economy. So, they can say, “Hey, you don't provide billions for a border wall? We’re going to push this button and crash the economy. You don't go to agree to these devastating cuts that are going to cause over 100,000 jobs to be lost. We're going to push this button here and crash the economy.”

This is not a negotiation. This is a hostage-taking, well beyond the norm. And this is how you should report it.

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