July 19, 2022


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Vice Chair Pete Aguilar (D-CA) held a leadership press conference where they highlighted House Democrats’ work to lower costs for families and to protect the rights of all Americans in response to the Supreme Court’s radical, right-wing attacks on women and the LGBTQ community. They were joined by Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: This is another busy week here in Washington, D.C. in the House of Representatives as we continue to address the challenges that the American people confront as it relates to our continued effort to lower costs for everyday Americans, to make sure we give every single American an opportunity to experience the great American dream, have a pathway toward opportunity and prosperity and also defend the freedoms that have long been assumed to be permanent here in America, but which a radical, right-wing Supreme Court majority has either taken away, in the form of the freedom of women to make their own reproductive health care decisions, or is on the verge of taking away, as it relates to family planning and the right to marry who you want to marry. So we have two distinguished Members who are with us today, who will speak about those legislative efforts, of course, along with our distinguished Vice Chair.
This week, today, in fact, several appropriation bills will be on the floor. And those bills are not just pro-forma pieces of legislation that we have to do as Members of Congress, as a matter of course. House Democrats, through the appropriations bills, are investing in the creation and preservation of affordable housing, investing in transportation, making sure that the American people can go to or from work, back and forth to visit loved ones, family members, enjoy themselves, visit their houses of worship. House Democrats are investing in transportation, we're investing in the health and well-being of women, infants and children and so many other areas. And we expect, unfortunately, that the party of no, the Republicans, the other side of the aisle – who never met a visionary idea that they like – is going to vote no. That's a shame.
VICE CHAIR AGUILAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I appreciate our colleagues joining us here today to talk about important pieces of legislation that we plan to move off the House floor this week. This week on Thursday, we'll also have our next January 6 hearing. So far, we've detailed the administration's ties to extremism, the pressure campaign that the former president put on his own vice president, as well as the Department of Justice. We've talked about the doomed litigation strategy that was built on a lie. What we will lay out on Thursday is what was happening during those 187 minutes in the White House.
I think it's important to just step back and talk about how we got here. On November 9, 2020, the Washington Post ran a story with the headline, "Top Republicans Backed Trump's Efforts to Challenge Election Results." The story continued to detail an anonymous quote that will live in infamy, and it read, "Well, what is the downside for humoring him, Donald Trump, for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change," said one senior Republican official. "He went golfing this weekend. It's not like he's plotting how to prevent Joe Biden from taking power on January 20. He's tweeting about filing some lawsuits, those lawsuits will fail, then he'll tweet some more about how the election was stolen and then he'll leave." How many people followed the guidance of that letter humoring him every step of the way?
So we'll continue to detail, specifically this hearing, that failed leadership. How Donald Trump failed to take that oath seriously and, at any point, he could have walked to the press room – a couple of feet away – and called off the rioters. The rioters that he knew were armed, that he knew were angry, and yet he pointed at the Capitol four times and told them to march.Those 187 minutes were much more than humoring him, the consequences we're still dealing with today.
REP. MANNING: Good morning, everyone. I'm Congresswoman Kathy Manning. I proudly represent North Carolina's Sixth Congressional District. I'm here today to tell you about my bill, the Right to Contraception Act, which the House will be voting on this Thursday. This critical legislation codifies the right to birth control into federal law, ensuring that individuals have a right to obtain contraception services and health care providers have a right to provide contraception services to their patients. My bill protects the full range of contraceptive methods, devices, and medications, including birth control pills, IUDs and emergency contraceptives, like Plan B.
Birth control is critically important to women's health, equality and economic and educational opportunities. It empowers people to be in control of their own bodies, families and futures. And almost all women use birth control at some point in their lifetimes. However, the far right is attacking contraceptive rights. These attacks aren't new. Over the past decade, Republican-controlled states like Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Idaho, Arizona, Missouri and others have attempted to restrict access to birth control. Last month, Justice Clarence Thomas specifically called for the reconsideration of the right to contraception in his concurring opinion in Dobbs.
Make no mistake. Republicans have heard Justice Thomas' rallying call to escalate attacks on reproductive rights. Extreme politicians are pushing fake science, falsely conflating abortion with contraception and stigmatizing and restricting essential reproductive health care. My bill, the Right to Contraception Act, will put a stop to these violations of Americans' reproductive freedom by working proactively to safeguard birth control. Let me be clear. We are working to protect women's right to control their lives. Our opponents are working to take women's rights away. I look forward to passing this bill to protect women's rights across this country.
REP. CICILLINE: I'm delighted to be here at the invitation of our Caucus Chair and Vice Chair and to say, first, that I'm proud that the Democratic Party, the Democratic Caucus, is responding swiftly to the anti-freedom, far extreme Supreme Court that is committed to really taking away freedoms that Americans have enjoyed for a very long time. Access to abortion care, access to contraception, and even access to marriage, the institution of marriage and marriage equality. And so we don't have to wonder if that's the Supreme Court's plan, because we saw in Justice Thomas's concurrence a specific reference to Obergefell and a urging of the Court to revisit the substantive due process cases that recognize those freedoms, those rights for all Americans.
So later today, the House will vote on H.R. 8404, The Respect for Marriage Act. […] The Respect for Marriage Act will create stability and certainty for families worried about what the future may bring. Specifically, to build those three things. It is a very simple bill. It corrects Congress's grievous mistake by repealing the so called Defense of Marriage Act that the Court essentially ruled unconstitutional when it recognized marriage equality, something we have a responsibility to do. When something is unconstitutional, we should remove it from our books and it has to be repealed. And that's the first thing that the Respect for Marriage Act does.
The second is, the bill establishes a definition of marriage in federal law to ensure that, for federal purposes, valid marriages, including same-sex marriages, have equal status to any other valid marriage. So it recognizes the definition of marriage for federal purposes. And finally, the bill prohibits any person, acting under color of state law, from failing to give full effect to an out-of-state marriage based on sex, race, ethnicity or national origin of the individuals involved in the marriage. And it provides the Attorney General of the United States with the authority to pursue enforcement, and it creates a private right of action for any individual harmed by these actions. And this is really existing law, you know, if you're married in one state, it's recognized in all the other states. This will ensure that marriage and access to marriage is not denied based on sexual orientation, race, gender, ethnicity, and it will ensure that that if you are married in the state lawfully, it must be recognized by the remaining jurisdictions. And by passing this law, we will make certain that those Americans who have settled their lives and ordered their families around the recognition of marriage equality will continue to be ensured that those marriages will be respected. I want to thank Chairman Nadler of the Judiciary Committee, Chairman Jeffries the Chair of our Caucus, who were instrumental in crafting this bill. I look forward to its swift passage in the House.
Video of the full press conference and Q&A can be viewed here.