September 15, 2020


WASHINGTON – This week, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Vice Chair Katherine Clark (D-MA) held a House Democratic Leadership press conference, where they outlined the long-overdue, yet still inadequate response by Senate Republicans to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for an extraordinary solution.

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: […] We had a very robust discussion as to where we are in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for a continued aggressive and transformational response. This is a very simple question that we all here at the Capitol have to ask and answer: Is this an extraordinary event that has afflicted the American people or not? If it is an extraordinary event, then the Congressional COVID-19 pandemic response should be extraordinary as well. We as House Democrats believe it's an extraordinary event.

Almost 200,000 Americans have died. That is more than the number of Americans who died during the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, 9/11, the War in Iraq and the War in Afghanistan combined. More than 100,000 small businesses have permanently closed. More than six million Americans have been infected by the coronavirus and counting. And tens of millions of Americans remain unemployed or underemployed, many of whom are food insecure and don't know how they're going to provide for their families. That's an extraordinary event afflicting the American people. It requires an extraordinary congressional response. That's all we are simply asking our Republican colleagues to recognize.

The Heroes Act was passed 123 days ago, and they've now decided within the last few days that we should be doing something? Albeit incredibly inadequate. That's why we are where we are right now in Washington, DC. But as always, we remain committed to trying to get something done. And we expect to be here as long as it takes in order to get something done on behalf of the American people. To provide another round of direct stimulus payments to everyday Americans. To provide relief to tenants and homeowners similar to what was done in the Heroes Act of approximately $175 billion. To extend the emergency unemployment insurance benefit because we are in a recession and in some parts of the country, facing depression-like conditions. To make sure that we provide assistance to our state and local governments in order to protect public health, public safety, public education, public transportation, public well-being and the provision of the public goods that are done by our state and local governments.

And so the Caucus remains unified, committed to getting something done that's meaningful and to remaining in town as long as it takes for that to happen.


VICE CHAIR CLARK: Six months into a pandemic that has caused such loss of life and of livelihoods. Workers are worried. Businesses are closing. Families are in mourning. Senate Republicans are burying their heads in the sand. Four months ago, we passed the Heroes Act. And what was it met with from Mitch McConnell? He said states should go bankrupt. He said, we're going to hit the pause button on American families. We passed legislation as the Chairman outlined that met the size of the need, that met the urgency and the need for action. But while we acted, Mitch McConnell decided to wait and see. It is what it is as the president said. 

Last week, they decided to scramble together a bill here in the vernacular of DC called a skinny bill. But what did it really mean? It meant zero in increasing food as 1 in 10 Americans are struggling with hunger. It meant zero for rent relief as 40% of all renting households risk being removed from their homes. It meant cutting unemployment assistance in half as 1 in 6 Americans cannot find work. And that is even a greater burden on working women in this country. It meant one third of the funding necessary to stabilize and save our child care industry, which is fundamental to our recovery. Once again, callous indifference. We're not asking the Senate to cave in. We are asking them to care about Americans at home. And what do we have from the White House? We have him saying, yet again, what we know he believes: science doesn't know. Science doesn't matter. There's no climate change. He's downplayed this crisis from the beginning. He is slowing testing to influence poll numbers, instead of protecting security of Americans, and he's interfering with CDC reporting. 

Until we get control of this virus and have healthy people, we will not have a healthy economy. We will not be able to rebuild, recover and reopen. It's that simple. So we are here as the Democratic Caucus united to continue to advocate for holistic, science based solutions that will meet this extraordinarily difficult moment in American history. We are here to fight For The People, and we will stay in Washington until we're successful.


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