December 08, 2020


WASHINGTON – Today, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Vice Chair-Elect Pete Aguilar (D-CA) held a House Democratic Leadership press conference, where they outlined the need for a COVID-19 relief package and a spending agreement before the year’s end.

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: It's an honor to be joined today by our incoming Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus for the 117th Congress, Vice Chair-Elect Pete Aguilar, who we affectionately refer to as the original “Mayor Pete.” We certainly are thankful for his leadership in the Congress, and I look forward to working closely together with him as we move forward to advance an agenda to Build Back Better For The People.

At our Caucus meeting today, we discussed two pressing issues that are before us right now: a COVID-19 relief package and making sure that we reach an omnibus spending agreement prior to the conclusion of the year. We're confident that we will be able to do both and I'm hopeful that that can be accomplished sooner rather than later. 

Yesterday, we marked an anniversary of the tragedy in Pearl Harbor where more than 2,000 Americans lost their lives, and we continue to be thankful for every single person who has worn the uniform throughout our journey here in America to defend our freedom abroad. We know that in World War II, approximately 290,000 Americans lost their lives between 1941 and 1945. By the end of the week or perhaps by the end of the month, without question, we will pass the number of deaths in World War II connected to COVID-19, not over a period of several years, but over a period of several months. And the tragedy is it was all largely avoidable.

But because of the absence of leadership and because of the inability or unwillingness of the president to unite the country, as was done during World War II to confront a common enemy, we find ourselves as Americans having to endure unprecedented levels of pain and suffering and death.

But brighter days are ahead. We certainly look forward to working closely with the new president, Joseph Biden, and the new vice president, Kamala Harris, to crush the virus, to provide comprehensive, transformational and direct relief to everyday Americans and to revive the economy. Over the next few days or next few weeks, we need to complete a down payment on that project, and that's what we hope to be able to do in reaching an agreement with the Senate and the administration.

But rest assured to those who are suffering, help is on the way. We're going to start to provide that continuing relief in the next few days or next week or two. We will finish the job with President Joe Biden.


VICE CHAIR-ELECT AGUILAR: It's an honor to be here with you and it's an honor to represent the 117th Congress and our colleagues. Across my community and across all of our communities, people are suffering, mourning the loss of loved ones, suffering economically and our community knows that Congress needs to act. Senate Republicans' inaction for months and months on end has to end. We have to use the bipartisan framework that is out there as a template to move forward. 

So we encourage Republicans to work with us. We are encouraged by the process so far. We look forward to delivering relief with our Caucus for our country and our communities. To do nothing more would be unacceptable, and so we're going to continue to work, we're going to continue to move forward. As an appropriator, I know the importance of funding government and to making sure that we do this right. I would prefer if our bills made it over to the other side. The Senate didn't mark up a single bill or didn't pass a single bill, but we're going to continue to move forward because we cannot have a government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic. We will work together, we will work as a Caucus, as a country, and we will ensure that we get the job done.

As the Chairman said, we're optimistic that we can negotiate and help to get this done together. 


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