tv House Democrats Hold a News Conference CSPAN September 15, 2020 7:18pm-7:53pm EDT
rioters, vandals, criminals, and violent extremists without charge. >> he lied to the american people. he knowingly lied about the threat posed to the country for months. he had the information. he knew how dangerous it was. while this disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose. a life-and-death betrayal of the american people. >> watch live coverage tuesday september between ninth on c-span a 9:00 p.m. eastern and watch all of c-span's debate coverage at c-span.org/debates. find all past presidential and debates presidential from c-span's video library. there is a link to our website with candidate information and electoral results. go to c-span.org/debates or listen live on the free c-span radio app. c-span.
your unfiltered view of politics. democratic caucus chair and vice chair brief reporters on the house democratic agenda. they discuss ongoing covid-19 relief funding negotiations saying they will not leave until legislation is passed. congressman jeffries also talked about government ending and legislation that would decriminalize marijuana. this is half an hour. rep. jeffries: good morning, everyone. thank you for your patience. call just ended,
lasted approximately an hour and 45 minutes. we had a very robust discussion as to where we are in the context of the covid-19 pandemic. continueded for a aggressive and transformational response. this is a very simple question. we all at the capital have to ask and answer. events an extraordinary that has afflicted the american people or not? event,s an extraordinary the congressional covid-19 pandemic response should be extraordinary as well. we as house democrats believe it is an extraordinary event.
almost 200,000 americans have died. that is more than the number of americans who died during the war, ther, the vietnam iraq,ar, 9/11, the war in and the war in a guinness stand combined -- afghanistan combined. more than 100,000 small businesses have permanently closed. more than 6 million americans have been infected by the coronavirus and counting. americansllions of remain unemployed or underemployed. many of whom are food insecure and do not know how they are going to provide for their
families. that is an extraordinary event afflicting the american people. it requires an extraordinary congressional response. asking our we are republican colleagues to recognize. the heroes act was passed. 123 days ago. decided within the last few days that we should be doing something? albeit incredibly inadequate. that is why we are where we are right now in washington, d.c.. but as always, we remain committed to trying to get something done. we expect to be here as long as to gets in order something done on behalf of the
american people. to provide another round of direct stimulus payments to everyday americans. to tenants andef 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. in some parts of the country facing depression-like conditions. we providee 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 done byic good that are state and local governments. and so the caucus remains
unified, committed to getting something done that is and two remaining in town as long as it takes for that to happen. yield to our distinguished vice chair of the caucus from the commonwealth of massachusetts. >> thank you so much mr. chairman. thank you all for being here today. six months into a pandemic that has caused such loss-of-life and of livelihoods. workers are worried. businesses are closing. rning.es are mou senate republicans are burying their heads in the sand. four months ago we passed the heroes act. mitch mcconnell said states should go bankrupt. he said we are 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. 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 in the vernacular of d.c. called a skinny bill. what did it really mean? it meant zero in increasing food. one in 10 americans are struggling with o -- 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 one in six americans cannot find work. burden ongreater
working women in this country. it meant one third of the funding necessary to stabilize and save our childcare industry, which is fundamental to our recovery. once again, callous, indifference. we are not asking the senate to cave in. we are asking them to care about americans at home. what do we have from the white house? we have him saying yet again what we know he believes. science does not know. science does not matter. climate change. he has downplayed this crisis from the beginning. he is slowing testing to influence poll numbers instead of protecting security of americans. he is interfering with cdc reporting. until we get control of this ,irus and have healthy people
we will not have a healthy economy. we will not be able to rebuild, recover, and reopen. it is that simple. we are here as a 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 are successful. reporter: what does meaningful mean? does that mean a deal with republicans? can you define what meaningful is? rep. jeffries: meaningful means in agreement on behalf of the american people that meets the size and scope of the problem.
we have negotiated four different bipartisan bills under the extraordinary leadership of speaker pelosi. we look forward to arriving at another bipartisan agreement. for that to happen we have to have partners who are willing to meet the moment. speaker pelosi and leader schumer have publicly said we are willing to come down from the $3.4 trillion heroes act to thenast $2.4 trillion and try to found -- to find common ground. that is a reasonable public negotiating concession. but we have to have partners willing to do something meaningful in terms of providing relief to the american people. mitch mcconnell is negotiating against himself. at the end of july, he
orroduced legislation publicly floated the republican senate perspective was a trillion dollar intervention. a $1 trillionfrom billion in$650 september? when the number of deaths, the number of infections, the amount of pain-and-suffering being felt and experienced by the american people has not decreased? it has increased. that is the kind of unreasonable person as catherine outlined that we are dealing with. donald trump and senate continue to evidence a depraved indifference to human life. it is the only way i can explain what is happening. that said, we again are
permitted -- are committed to finding common ground and not leaving town until we accomplish that objective. reporter: you will not leave until there is a deal? rep. jeffries: i will yield, but i believe that is the perspective and was repeatedly articulated on the caucus call today. be schedule of course will determined by the speaker and majority leader hoyer who will have more to say later this afternoon. but it is clear to me based on the polls that had taken place up until this point and the caucus meeting today that the overwhelming consensus amongst the members is that we stick around until we get something done for the american. -- the american people.
reporter: the caucus is holding a conference after this rolling out their idea for bipartisan run a virus legislation. is your caucus pushing for something like that? we know the dollar amount is not going to match. you are still talking about the heroes act in terms of a metric for the relief that is needed. is your caucus leaning which way? trillion ore $4.3 something like what is being introduced? rep. jeffries: the heroes act as the foundation for the type of transformational intervention that is necessary because this is an extraordinary crisis. , speaker pelosi has articulated the caucus perspective, which is, we recognize that senate republicans are in a vastly different place and so is the administration. we are willing to come down by at least $1 trillion. we will see what the problem
solvers caucus proposal is. i have great respect for gottheimer. he is of the same view and we will hear what he has to say, that we need to arrive at an agreement, but it has to be a strong and meeting agreement. rep. clark: i want to underscore with the chairman said. the speaker has said i will meet you halfway. there is no greater start to a negotiation than that. she has been left alone at the negotiating table for weeks and weeks after making that offer. i am grateful that i have colleagues on both sides of the aisle who are trying to work towards a solution. that is what we need to see from the senate. see what is happening to american families. act accordingly. what is the problem? on huges no hesitation
spending when it came to tax cuts for the very wealthiest americans. now in the hesitation helping people who are in such need and who are dependent on congress, especially with state and local budgets that have nowhere else to turn but to us for the help? this is not about a red state or blue state. that will always be the go to for this president. to lead with division. this is about how we respond as a country. how we follow the signs and have testing and tracing, how we savey reopen schools and our childcare sector. these are the critical issues facing us, and we have two come to them together. on thethe republicans problem solvers will be an inspiration to the senate to join us back at the negotiating
table. reporter: are democrats willing to come down below the $2 trillion number? rep. jeffries: our concern remains with the health, safety, and well-being of the american people. that is i think the approach we had taken as house democrats because we have a solemn responsibility to try to deliver for the people and make their life better in the context of this very deadly pandemic. we were playing politics somewhat argue we would not be at the negotiating table willing 49agree to meaningful relief days before an election. but this is not about politics for us. it is about getting things done on behalf of the american
people. >> will democrats be voting on anything, whether it is the heroes act, which has not been voted on in several months, voting on a different piece of coronavirus legislation, or will it only be the bipartisan deal? >> that question will have to be discussed at the leadership level between the speaker and standing -- and steny. significant input from the members. no real discussion about on the call. >> was there a discussion on the call with marijuana? there is a vote next week. there has been -- rep. jeffries: there was no discussion today. reporter: there are some frontline members obviously withrned about doing more marijuana yet but not having a stimulus package.
what do you tell those vulnerable members who are concerned about it? rep. jeffries: we did not discuss the more act on the call or the timing of some of the bills that are going to be on the floor next week. we did discuss the legislative agenda for this week. again, i think the primary sentiment amongst all of us is midst of a we in the deadly pandemic or not? donald trump and the republicans want to act like this is not happening. what's be clear. that is the general perspective. it is not really happening. even though we all know people who have died from the covid-19 pandemic. we all know americans who are suffering economically. it is happening. intervene in a meaningful way. that is the primary focus area
with respect to other items on the legislative agenda, as it relates to next week, i am just trying to get to tomorrow. that is the approach many of us have taken in the context of the long national nightmare that has been the trump administration since january 20 of 2017. reporter: majority leader mcconnell yesterday accused democrats of them more willing to focus on marijuana than on coronavirus area what would you say in response to that? rep. jeffries: katherine clark said it earlier. mitch mcconnell's perspective has been that states should declare bankruptcy, which is ridiculous when you consider the states he is talking about, new york, california, new jersey, illinois, for instance, regularly provide tens of billions of dollars more to the federal government then we get back in return. that this saying is
is not a blue state issue or a red state issue. it is an american issue. i think the comment about marijuana is just telling us -- silliness. they care more about the well-off and the well-connected. we know that is a fact because the first thing they did of any meaningful consequence from their ideological perspective when they had the house the senate and the presidency was they gop tax scam -- pass gop tax scam where benefits went to the wealthiest 1%. now mitch mcconnell wants to lecture us about a legislative agenda? have settledcally our children and grandchildren with $2 trillion worth of debt to promote the lifestyles of the rich and shameless? now you want to talk to us
because we are trying to hold the line for everyday americans? it is a silly comment. it is silly and it is so disrespectful to the losses that i heard about every single day in my district. the calls i get from a single mom last week who was in tears. she does not know how she can afford her childcare any longer. she has a special needs child who needs that sort of educational experience. when her hours are cut. if she is not able to put that together, she is going to lose her job entirely. maybe mitch mcconnell should talk to the veterans from my hometown who were so worried because his medication was over a week late getting to him in the mail that he relies on. mitch mcconnell should
talk to the school board members and teachers and parents of students who are so worried about how their schools are going to open and stay open and how we are not going to leave thedren behind, not with six months they have missed, but the impact for years on our kids. and their education. maybe mitch mcconnell should be worried about the over 400 bills we have passed in the last dachshund that take on a range of issues that are sitting on his desk, collecting dust. maybe he should be worried about protecting every single american wherever they live, whoever they are voting for, the right to vote in this country, making sure they have the right to cast a ballot free from foreign interference and on time, because we have a post office that can deliver. maybe those are some of the worries mitch mcconnell should
be talking about. in addition to therevirus coming up, is going to be additional legislation on -- reform given that has been gridlock? is there a way forward before the election? rep. jeffries: there are ongoing conversations between chairwoman author of, the lead the fairness in policing act and tim scott. you would have to talk to chairwoman bass to understand the status of those discussions, but as with other pieces of legislation, we remain committed to trying to get something done and are willing to work with the senate to arrive at doing something to solve the problem.
the george floyd justice in policing act is the only bipartisan game in town. it received republican support on the floor of the house of representatives despite the fact leader mccartney was strongly whipping against it. there are more republicans throughout the country at the state and local level who see and support the need for doing something constructive along the lines of the george floyd justice in policing act. hopefully senate republicans will see it that way. not only are we going to continue to press for that bill, but i think it is important that just today we are going to be voting on the strength and diversity act by representative marcia fudge. we are going to be looking at the equity and inclusion enforcement act by representative scott. we are going to be condemning all forms of antiaging sentiment
as related -- anti-asian sentiment as related to covid-19. this is the type of work for the people. looking at how we continue to address systemic racism in our country. that we are continuing to do while very much keeping our response to this pandemic top of mind. all of these issues are about the security of every single and continues to be the focus and priority of this caucus. last question? we will take these last two. the caucus have a conviction on when the cr date could be extended? rep. jeffries: there was no real
discussion of that on the call today. i think the caucus position is we want to see an agreement as it relates to making sure the government is not shut down. the last thing that should occur in the midst of this pandemic and all the chaos, crisis, and confusion rot on the american people by donald trump is a government shutdown. is an expectation as nancy pelosi has said and as steny hoyer has said that we will arrive at an agreement. there has been no discussion certainly on the call today about that agreement. i've got no opinion other than that we have to avoid at all costs shut down and i expect we are going to find common ground with the senate. it does not appear senator mcconnell and the republicans want to shut down.
piggybacksy question off of that. how long is going to be too long waiting for this legislation to get done? said you're going to be in the house as long as it takes. but government funding, there is a deadline for that. do you see that in a similar deadline? or do you think your caucus -- ifstart to negotiations are taking too long? rep. jeffries: the caucus remains united as has been the case through tough negotiations that have occurred throughout the balance of the 116th congress. we were in a similar situation in the midst of donald trump's reckless 35 day government shutdown. and of course, our constituents were anxious in the midst of that. we had people who were furloughed, people who were working without pay on the front
lines of our national security, and it was quite unfortunate what the american people were forced to go through. caucusheld together as a , unified behind speaker pelosi's leadership. we ended that reckless 35 day government shutdown and we did not give donald trump a dime to do it. our unity is our strength. tough set ofa very negotiations in the context of the u.s.-canada-mexico trade agreement. the usmca. agreement,t to that there were some voices on the outside that did not think democrats would hold firm together. in the face of the administration basically saying initially, take it or leave it.
my way or the highway. we have always been willing to say, there is i-95. if you are unwilling to come to a legitimate, meaningful agreement on behalf of the american people. we held together. under speaker pelosi's tremendous leadership. in the end, we transformed that agreement into something meaningful on behalf of working-class everyday americans. with iar thing happened think what many have referred to as covid 3.5 area -- covid 3.5. when mitch mcconnell said the money for the paycheck protection program has run out and so we are just going to resources needed to
continue the program, take it or leave it, my way or the highway. we showed them the highway. it would make no sense at that point when there were so many small businesses not getting the relief that were intended to get the relief to swallow what mitch mcconnell wanted to do. tore was pressure to try break the house democrats caucus, but we stood firm on behalf of the american people. we were able to secure tens of billions of dollars in additional resources to make sure that women and minority owned businesses, mom-and-pop shops, family-owned businesses, community banks, community development, financial institutions, received the relief. whether welk about are under pressure right now, of verse this is filled with pressure. day, at thef the
end of the day, what we have shown is a willingness to stand strong and unified on behalf of the american people. and when we do, it always yields a better result. >> i wish there was a relief from this pandemic and the economic fallout has caused for the american people, but there is not, and we cannot let mitch mcconnell try to run a congressional calendar out on the suffering. we are going to stand strong and voicesgoing to bring the of our constituents and families congressis country to and say that we see you and we are going to fight for you. we will do that until we have relief for them. theirwe can show them security is the priority of this congress and their government.
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