December 16, 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 provided updates on the latest COVID-19 relief negotiations.

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES:  We just concluded our Caucus meeting for the day, where we had a robust discussion about the two major issues currently being negotiated with the Senate and the administration, the first being the omnibus spending agreement in order to keep the government funded throughout the balance of the fiscal year, the second, a COVID-19 relief package that is critically important to deal with this once-in-a-century pandemic that has afflicted the American people.

Progress is being made in both areas but discussions, of course, are ongoing. The Speaker and all the leadership will provide updates as per those discussions as things unfold. But we are continuing to work as hard as we can to ensure that any COVID-19 relief package crushes the virus, provides direct assistance to the American people and begins the process of reviving our economy. 

Given the obstacles that remain in terms of the Senate Republican majority and the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, we understand that any agreement that is ultimately reached will be a necessary down payment and strong first step on what needs to be done in order to aggressively confront the COVID-19 pandemic, and that work will continue during the first 100 days and beyond of the Biden administration. 

We are continuing to fight to make sure that direct relief to the American people includes assistance with child care, assistance with food insecurity, unemployment insurance assistance, assistance with housing for renters and homeowners who are struggling. And of course, there is a strong desire among Members of the Caucus to ensure that there are direct payments to everyday Americans who have been struggling month after month throughout this pandemic. But we remain cautiously optimistic that substantial progress is underway, and we will not leave the Capitol until an agreement is reached to address the needs of the American people with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


VICE CHAIR-ELECT AGUILAR: As the Chairman mentioned, we have a duty to provide relief to the American people this week. The arrival of the first doses of the vaccine is absolutely reason for hope, but we're not going to be out of the woods for a while. The months of inaction and refusal by Senate Republicans to act have been beyond unacceptable, and people are truly hurting. We're seeing reports of increased food insecurity, families facing eviction and workers in need of extended unemployment benefits. I don't know how you could look around this country and not see the need that is out there. The status quo is simply unacceptable.

I've been pleased with the bipartisan progress on the proposed relief, as have all of us, and I know our Caucus stands ready to deliver results. And the Chairman and I, just like he mentioned, share the Speaker's commitment to stay here until we get something passed. With the election behind us and the Electoral College officially declaring Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the winners, I'm hopeful that our Republican colleagues will finally meet us halfway. That's what the American people want. That's what they deserve, and that's what the Democratic Caucus is going to work to achieve.


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