January 11, 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’ commitment to protecting our democracy and fighting back against the voter suppression epidemic taking place across the country.

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: We had our first in-person and hybrid Caucus meeting of the year. It was good to see everyone who is back in town for our first full week, the second session of the 117th Congress. Democrats are looking forward to continuing to deliver for the American people to get things done, to work on the economy and inflation, continue to create millions of good-paying jobs as we have done, but also, of course, to defend our democracy at a moment where we are seeing a voter suppression epidemic take place all across America.

And it didn't have to be this way. We just marked the one-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection. We know that was a violent attack on the Capitol, the Congress, the Constitution and the country, incited by the former, twice-impeached so-called President of the United States of America. It was an inflection point in our country and for our democracy. Democracy did prevail that day. A peaceful transfer of power subsequently prevailed on January 20 of 2021. But instead of running towards democracy, as reasonable people on the other side of the aisle should have done, the vast majority of them have run away from our democracy. That's why it's under assault.

The pillar of our democracy, of course, is the constitutionally-protected right to vote. The ability of the American people to determine who should represent their interests at all levels of government, that is what government of the people, by the people and for the people is all about. That is the principle that Joe Biden is in Georgia today defending. That is what the Freedom to Vote Act, that has been authored by Joe Manchin, is all about. That is what the John Robert Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is all about.

When did voting rights become such a partisan thing, part of the Republican electoral strategy? Their insidious quest for power. When did that happen? Because for the vast majority of the decades following the Voting Rights Act, initially signed into law in 1965, voting, outside of the Deep South, was largely something that was embraced by both parties. Every time the Voting Rights Act was reauthorized and signed back into law — it occurred four times — it was signed back into law by a Republican president: in 1970, Richard Nixon of all people, 1975, Gerald Ford, 1982, Ronald Reagan, 2006, George W. Bush. What happened? Was it the election of Barack Obama? What happened that voting rights now is a partisan thing, and Republicans are largely allergic to the notion of "one person, one vote," intent on suppressing the ability of people, particularly in certain communities of color, to participate in our democracy?

So we understand the stakes are very high, and we're thankful that there's going to be movement over the next few days and activity in the Senate. We support that fully, and no matter what it takes, we're going to defend our democracy. We're going to protect the right to vote. We're going to continue America's long, necessary and majestic march toward a more perfect union.


VICE CHAIR AGUILAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Happy New Year. As the Chairman mentioned, the House Democratic Caucus is completely supportive of efforts to protect our democracy. We saw — in my work on the January 6th Committee — we've seen what this means. We've seen how important and fragile our democracy is, and we remain committed to continue to work to protect it at each and every turn. I look forward to my continued work with my colleagues in a non-partisan way on that committee and we'll work, as House Democrats, to ensure that we strengthen the pillars of our democracy, support and lift up the work that is going on in the Senate and ensure that every individual has a right and has the protection to vote.


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