March 17, 2021


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 the broad support and success of the American Rescue Plan, which is already delivering critical relief to communities across the country. In the wake of the apparent deadly attacks on the Asian American community in Georgia, they were also joined by Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Judy Chu (D-CA) to make clear that House Democrats stand with the AAPI community and are working tirelessly to halt the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: As I begin, let me first just express our thoughts and our prayers, our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of the tragic and violent massacre down in the Atlanta metro area. Our hearts are broken at this senseless act of violence, and we want to make sure that any and all perpetrators are prosecuted, convicted and locked up to the full extent of the law. We'll hear from Representative Judy Chu, who has been leading the effort as it relates to the startling rise of anti-Asian violence in America, but we stand in full and complete solidarity with our Asian American brothers and sisters throughout the country, and we will not rest until we stop Asian hate in America.

We had a very good conversation earlier today as part of our weekly House Democratic Caucus meeting. We heard from the lead sponsors of four critical pieces of legislation that will be on the floor of the House of Representatives this week: the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the Dream and Promise Act, the farm workers bill led by Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren and the extension of the date with respect to ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to ensure that we address the fact that the United States of America is the only country in the free world with a written constitution that does not explicitly prohibit discrimination against women. It's time for us to deal with that glaring omission.

Our Members were spread across the country over the last few days, back home in our districts. The acclaim and the support for the American Rescue Plan is wide and it's deep. And we're thankful for the leadership of President Biden, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer and Democrats on both sides of the Capitol for meeting the moment and responding in a transformational way with respect to the one point nine trillion dollar American Rescue Plan because the needs are so extensive. The pain and the suffering and the death experienced by the American people are startling, and that is why it was necessary to respond. And now we're working as hard as we can to make sure that all of the benefits and relief that is contained within the American Rescue Plan make it to the everyday Americans who are in so desperate need for the support.


VICE CHAIR AGUILAR: As you all know, last week, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. This is a transformative piece of legislation that impacts communities like mine and our communities around the country. The last few weeks, I've been joining virtual city council meetings in my district to share the funding levels for our communities. And when I talk to local mayors and school board members, city council members, they don't bring up the partisan attacks that we see here under the dome or the language or the talking points that we see from Republican leaders. Instead, they talk about what this means to their communities, for our first responders, for our essential workers, for the extension of library hours, for our students and teachers. This is an example that President Biden and congressional Democrats are doing right by the American people and acting on those priorities and an example of Republican congressional leadership failing to understand those priorities back home. And that's what we'll continue to do this week by passing the Violence Against Women Act, the Equal Rights Amendment, the Farm Worker Modernization Act and the Dream and Promise Act to address problems and inequities in our communities. These are things that the American people want to see fixed.

And just like the Chairman, I'd just like to offer my thoughts and my prayers for those affected by the tragedy down in Atlanta. The Chairman mentioned someone who we turn to for advice on so many issues is joining us here today to talk about this tragedy, Congresswoman Judy Chu.


CAPAC CHAIR CHU: Yesterday in Atlanta, eight people were killed as a result of three shootings at Asian spas that occurred within a few hours. Six of the eight victims were Asian American women. It appears a shooter, age 21, a white male, first went to a spa called Young's Asian Massage. The fact that he went to that one with that title gives you a clue as to what he was thinking. This is one of the more violent tragedies in a string of about 3,800 hate incidents and crimes against Asian Americans, 68% of them women. It's clear that the individuals were targeted because they are amongst the most vulnerable in our country, immigrant Asian women.

The AAPI community has been living in fear of verbal and physical attacks, and now we're experiencing increasingly deadly tragedies of racism and violence. We call on Georgia officials to ensure that the families of the victims are well supported and our followers to support local efforts that provide community protection and victim support. And we express our deepest condolences to the friends and families of these victims.

The AAPI community tells us that they have been living in a steady state of tension this entire pandemic. Yesterday's crimes are beyond terrifying, but it just brings home to so many Asian Americans that they are fearful of their lives and circumstances where they would otherwise feel safe in their homes and at their jobs. And not only that, they are risking infection when going to work at places like a spa or a nail salon. And now they're risking increased targeted violence.

The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, which I chair, calls for solidarity against hate. And these are the actions we are taking; because of President Biden, we have met with the Department of Justice and we are right now determining actions against AAPI hate. We have called for a hearing in the Judiciary Committee against and about these crimes, these anti-Asian hate crimes, and that hearing will take place tomorrow morning. We are calling for the passage of the No Hate Act, which would finally bring resources to local law enforcement so that they can improve their hate crime programs. Finally, we are calling for a national day to speak out against AAPI hate and that is March 26. We know that if we stand together, we can defeat this hate and it is only if we support one another that this can end.


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