CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: “WE DIDN’T COME TO CONGRESS TO IMPEACH THIS PRESIDENT OR ANY PRESIDENT, BUT DUTY REQUIRES WE PURSUE THIS INQUIRY BECAUSE NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW.”
WASHINGTON – This week, House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark (D-MA) held the House Democratic leadership’s weekly press conference, where they addressed the president’s relentless attacks on Dreamers and sabotage of our nation’s health care. They were joined by freshman Democratic leaders Rep. Joe Neguse and Rep. Veronica Escobar, who was elected to this position by her colleagues today
CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: Today is a very serious day. It's a solemn day. It's a sober day. We didn't come to Congress to impeach this president or any president. We came to Congress to get things done on behalf of everyday Americans. To make life better for working families, middle-class folks and senior citizens. To fight for the least, the lost and the left behind. We came to Congress to fight For The People. We came to Congress to lower health-care costs, to increase pay for everyday Americans through a real infrastructure plan, and to clean up corruption by bringing our democracy to life and ending the era of voter suppression once and for all.
We didn't come to Congress to impeach this president or any president, but duty requires that we pursue this inquiry because no one is above the law. The House is a separate and coequal branch of government. We don't work for Donald Trump. We don't work for any president, Democrat or Republican. We work for the American people. We have a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on an out-of-control executive branch. That is not the Nancy Pelosi playbook. That is not the Adam Schiff playbook. That is not the House Democratic Caucus playbook. That is the James Madison playbook. Madison said in Federalist 51 that the House, along with the Senate, should serve as a rival to the executive branch. Why would Madison use the word “rival?” Because the Founders didn't want a king. They didn't want a dictator. They didn't want a monarch. They wanted a democracy. Today, we continue our effort to defend our democracy For The People. We also continue to keep our focus on kitchen-table, pocketbook issues to make life better for everyday Americans as we promised.
We continue to work on lowering health-care costs for everyday Americans with an emphasis on driving down the high price of life-saving prescription drugs. All the while, the president and his Department of Justice fiddle around at the Supreme Court and at the Fifth Circuit, trying to get Dreamers thrown out of this country and trying to deny health care to tens of millions of individuals and strip away protections for pre-existing conditions. It's the president that needs to do his job. It's time for "Do-Nothing Donald" to start acting on behalf of the American people.
VICE CHAIR CLARK: This past Monday was Veterans Day and as usual, I went into my communities. We had tremendous ceremonies honoring our veterans. But then I did something I hadn't done before, which was a roundtable with three veterans from one of my communities and two adult daughters of veterans who had struggled to get their parents the benefits that they needed.
As I sat there listening to these stories of veterans who had struggled with mental-health issues, who have not been able to find housing, all of the veterans at this roundtable had experienced homelessness, had trouble accessing their health care, who were trying to find jobs and put their lives back together, and some of them had found each other and formed a coalition and the local veterans service officer was a key to getting these benefits. And it made me think about their valor, how they were willing to put everything, their lives on hold and to risk their very lives for this country and what it says about this president. And his actions when he got off the phone with the president of Ukraine and tried to manipulate him by withholding military aid, by asking that meetings be contingent on investigating political rivals. And not only is that a betrayal of the Constitution, of the American people, of our veterans who have fought for this country, it is also pulling in the integrity of the elections in 2020. So today, as we mark the public hearings, I'm going to let the American people hear for themselves the testimony of the diplomats, of the patriots who have come forward to tell their stories of this betrayal. It is a somber occasion. And I hope that we can live up to the veterans who we celebrated and honored this week by putting this story forward, by letting the facts speak for themselves.
REP. NEGUSE: The American people recognize an abuse of power when they see it and they expect the Congress to take action when our national security is undermined, and the integrity of our electoral system is undermined. […] The work today that is happening right now is about preserving our republic, protecting our republic and keeping our republic.
I would say the second point that was certainly clear to me during my town halls is that my constituents are grateful to the House Democratic Caucus for staying focused on a For The People agenda that delivers real results for the American people. Lest we not forget the work that we have already undertaken to protect Dreamers, to increase the minimum wage, to decrease prescription drug prices, to make health care more affordable for everyday Americans, to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords, to provide equality to LGBT Americans. Those are all bills that the House Democratic Caucus under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, the Majority Leader and of course our Caucus Chairman and Vice Chairwoman have led on.
So, we're going to continue to stay focused on a For The People agenda. And, I can certainly attest to the sense of the freshman class that delivering on these important priorities For The People of our respective districts is of the utmost importance and we are lucky as the Vice chairwoman mentioned, to have a wealth of experience and talent in the freshman class.
REP. ESCOBAR: I so look forward to working with you as we co-lead and co-represent the diverse, dynamic freshman class that we are so privileged to be a part of. […] The last few years have been very, very difficult. And they have been what inspired many of us, especially those of us who are freshmen, to run in the first place, because our country has been in crisis and these have indeed been very dark times. And today is among the darkest of those days because of where we find ourselves as a Congress and as a country facing up to what our president has done and what he has failed to do.
And as we as a freshman class, and we as a Democratic Caucus, continue to lead on behalf of the American people, I want to share with you a conversation that I had yesterday with many of the DACA recipients who flew in from all over the country to sit and listen to arguments that were debated before the Supreme Court—this incredible decision that will impact their lives so profoundly. I told them that we would never abandon them. And that is a message that I want to ensure the American public understands that on behalf of the Democratic Caucus, on behalf of newly elected freshmen, women and men from very diverse backgrounds who came together to lead this country out of the darkness, we will not abandon the American people. Yesterday's Supreme Court arguments immediately afterwards, as we chatted, many of us in Congress chatted, had the privilege to sit and talk with these Dreamers and DACA recipients. The fear that they are feeling about their future is so evident and the sense of concern about what comes next for them is obviously top of mind. These are individuals who are police officers in our community. They are soldiers in our community. They are teachers in our community. They are hardworking members and participants in this American dream and this American project that we're all so privileged to participate in. They are looking to us to help them finally achieve their American dream, just as many Americans are looking to us to ensure that they don't lose their health care, that they are able to live in a community free from gun violence. That we come together and protect vulnerable peoples, whether they be migrants, minorities, women, children, families–protect them and give them the best opportunities and path forward. I feel very privileged to be able to have a seat at the leadership table to bring those voices of a diverse and dynamic Caucus forward and to continue to tell the story of the work that the Democrats are doing, because we will not abandon the American people.We stand with you and we will continue to fight for you, alongside with you through these very dark days.
Video of the full press conference and Q&A can be viewed here.
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