September 28, 2021


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) held a leadership press conference where he highlighted House Democrats’ commitment to keeping our government open, protecting our nation's credit and pushing President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda over the finish line. 

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: This is a big week for the American people. It's a big week for President Biden. It's a big week for House and Senate Democrats. We're not running away from that. We're leaning into it. We embrace it. We understand that we've been given the opportunity to govern For The People to Build Back Better. That's exactly what we are committed to doing. 

It seems to me that there are five things that are in front of us that we've got to deal with in a variety of different ways over the next week or so. We have to move the bipartisan infrastructure agreement so we can fix our crumbling bridges, roads, tunnels, airports, our mass transportation system. Make sure that we invest in high-speed internet for every single American all across the country. We of course have to advance the ball on the Build Back Better Act so we can create millions of good-paying jobs and cut taxes for working families and middle-class families and lower costs for everyday Americans, particularly in the areas of home care, health care, child care and housing. That's what this Build Back Better Act is all about in addition to dealing with the climate crisis with the fierce urgency of now. 

Third, we have to keep the government open and we're committed to advancing the ball in that regard. Every single Republican in the House and in the Senate voted to shut the government down. This is the height of irresponsibility. Something is wrong with these people. We're here in Washington, and apparently they're not here to govern. 

Fourth, of course, we have to make sure that we protect the full faith and credit of the United States of America, avoiding a default on our debt. It's important for the American people to understand that the debt ceiling is not a forward-looking vehicle. Everything that we will get done on behalf of the American people in connection with the bipartisan infrastructure agreement and the Build Back Better Act is paid for. It will not add a dime of debt for the American people, not a dime. The debt ceiling is a backward-looking vehicle. What we're working on right now is making sure we pay the credit card bill that Donald Trump ran up in part on his own with reckless Republicans in connection with the GOP tax scam, where 83% of the benefits went to the wealthiest one percent. Why? To subsidize the lifestyles of the rich and shameless. That's part of what's going on right now in terms of the debt. And then part of it is the necessary intervention that we did in a bipartisan way with respect to Covid-19 relief. 97% of the debt and the ceiling that we have to raise or deal with in some other way relates to Donald Trump's bills. Only 3% relate to anything having to do with Joe Biden's presidency. The American people deserve some transparency as it relates to what actually is going on with the debt ceiling.

Lastly, of course, we have the congressional baseball game, without Cedric Richmond, but it's also a great congressional tradition and hopefully the spirit of bipartisanship that usually exists and we'll see on the field tomorrow. It's great to have it in the context of a congressional baseball game, and we do it for charity and it helps underprivileged, at-risk young people. It's a worthy thing to do. But hopefully that same spirit of bipartisanship that we'll see on the field tomorrow, we'll actually see on the floor of the House and the Senate on behalf of the American people.


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