March 02, 2021


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries and Vice Chair Pete Aguilar kicked off the first-ever all virtual 2021 Issues Conference. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Whip James Clyburn and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark joined them to address how House Democrats will collectively confront this public health and economic crisis. The leadership team outlined how, through the forum of the Issues Conference, the House Democratic Caucus will work together to brainstorm ideas, learn from one another and formulate solutions aimed at the challenges facing everyday Americans.

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: It’s an honor to stand here with House Democratic leadership as we approach the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference at 3 p.m. Although it will be virtual as we continue to navigate our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re excited, we’re enthusiastic, we’re ready to get to work and continue the process of delivering for the American people.

These are certainly challenging times, but in America, we’ve encountered many challenging times, year after year, decade after decade, century after century. America is a resilient country. America is a great country. We’ve come a long way, but of course, we still have a long way to go.

There are issues that we need to resolve on behalf of everyday Americans. The Framers of the Constitution did not promise a perfect country. In fact, we know that they were imperfect individuals themselves. But they did set us on a course, an aspirational course, for a more perfect union. And that is what the Issues Conference in 2021 will be all about. How do we Build Back Better For The People and create justice, opportunity and prosperity in every single zip code? We look forward to a very robust conversation and dialogue with practitioners, activists, academics, community leaders and high-ranking governmental officials, including the President of the United States, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the former Secretary of State, who is the Climate Envoy, as well as the current Governor of the state of New Mexico, our former colleague in the House of Representatives.

[…] The House Democratic Caucus is a wonderful orchestra. We’ve got incredibly talented, legislative musicians, but it wouldn’t work in the absence of a fabulous conductor, Nancy D'Alesandro Pelosi.


SPEAKER PELOSI: Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. Thanks to you and Vice Chair Aguilar for bringing us together for this important Issues Conference. A time of reflection, a time for us to listen and to learn about some of the challenges that we face and some of the solutions that go with them. To listen to our colleagues, the various enthusiasms that they have and how we can channel them into Building Back Better For The People, advancing justice, opportunity and prosperity in every zip code. Prosperity for all Americans.

[…] In order to learn, we have to unlearn certain things. And that’s how I was thinking of this – how do we open our minds to the new? To the entrepreneurial thinking that is out there? To help us to find common ground? To understand other points of view in a way that saves time, but also makes progress? So, we really have been looking forward to, even before Sunday’s gospel, to this time of listening, learning, reflection, unlearning, so that we can learn more.


MAJORITY LEADER HOYER: What these Issues Conferences are about is talking longer. More thoughtfully. More interface. More discussion, as opposed to one-minute statements. And it is to, as Nancy points out, the Speaker points out, to look more in depth at the issues we confront. […] The House is off to a very good start. We’ve followed a very productive Congress in the 116th of the House of Representatives. I continue to remind people, the fact that it met a slammed door in the United States Senate did not mean that what we did wasn’t a very productive – and very frankly, we passed five bills, which kept us out of depression and assisted in confronting COVID-19. […] As we look ahead at the remainder of 2021, we’ll have a lot of work to do on behalf of the American people, much of which we will discuss over these next two days. As the theme of our Issues Conference says, we will be focused on Building Back Better. That has a lot of applications, but essentially it means we want to come back from the crisis that we have confronted and come back better, and we will do that.


WHIP CLYBURN: President Biden has put forth such a bold plan. But we should not be surprised because when he received the nomination, he did something to demonstrate his ability to go bold. He named the first woman to be Vice President of these United States… But in this instance, he picked not just a woman, but he picked a woman of color… And it demonstrated something about him that I think helps define this administration and define what this Caucus is going to be like for the rest of this Congress and on throughout his administration and that is to see what needs to be done, and irrespective of what may have been the past, irrespective of what may be tradition, to strike out and do it, and do it in such a way that we create a climate that is positive for the American people. Tonight, my job is going to be to introduce, I suspect, I hope at this point, to present Kamala Harris, to bring an address to this Caucus, an address that I think will say exactly what we are all about as a Caucus.


ASSISTANT SPEAKER CLARK: Justice, opportunity and prosperity in every zip code.  It is a long title for a big piece of work that we are undertaking to meet this moment of racial, economic and climate justice. This is the theme of our Conference and it is the driving force behind our work in Congress. This pandemic has exposed so many of the inequities that we knew existed and brought them in to stark relief. Women are being pushed out of the workforce. One out of four women have lost their jobs. Families on the poverty line are slipping further into despair. Black and Brown Americans are getting sick and dying at disproportionate rates. This time of great challenge calls for great progress, and this is what we’re going to be discussing at the Issues Conference this year. This is our moment, not to return to the status quo, but to boldly Build Back Better.


VICE CHAIR AGUILAR: Our Conference is built on the diversity of our Caucus. Not only are we a diverse Caucus, but we are a united Caucus. We showed that with the American Rescue Plan. We’re going to build off of that to address and to discuss issues of the economy and health care and opportunity in making sure that Americans have a chance in our communities. But we will do that and the Conference was built off of the diversity of the Members of our Caucus who were given time to give us ideas and suggestions on programs that will help them. That’s the mindset that we’ll take into this Issues Conference, is building off of our relationships with our colleagues, learning from the diversity of that Caucus and that’s what will continue to be our guide throughout the Issues Conference. 


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