WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Democratic Whip Katherine Clark (MA-5) joined Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8), Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (CA-33), and Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Ted Lieu (CA-36) for a press conference ahead of tonight’s House vote on the Bipartisan Budget Agreement. Below is a transcript of her remarks:
“It is Democrats who've been the adults in the room. It is Democrats who’ve prioritized Americans over political gamesmanship. It's Democrats who've opposed this MAGA hostage situation. It's Democrats who have always been clear: we will not allow this country to suffer a devastating default. The question is whether Republicans today will decide to join us and do the right thing.
“This is a deal that Speaker McCarthy negotiated. When his predecessor negotiated an agreement on the debt ceiling, she guaranteed the votes from the vast majority of her caucus. Now, nobody is mistaking Speaker McCarthy for Speaker Pelosi, but he should be able to do what he said he was going to do and produce 150 votes from this majority. That should be on the table.
“And the fact that it is still an open question, the fact that we still don't know if the votes are there, that he is depending on Democrats to avert disaster, that is a reflection of the extremism, of the brinksmanship, and the ideological rot that has taken hold of the Republican Party.
“Like all of you, I am eager to see the Republicans’ final tally. But this Caucus will remain unified with the President and, most importantly, with the American people in this fight.
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“House Democrats are very clear. There is no perfect negotiation when you are the victims of extortion. Nobody likes to pay a ransom note, and that's exactly what tonight's vote is: our payment on the ransom of the American people. The MAGA Republicans, the extremists, have taken them hostage – offered, as the Leader set forth, a lose-lose proposition. We will either have devastating cuts or we lose 8 million jobs overnight, spike the cost of homeownership, of car loans. Last time we even got close to default, Americans on the verge of retirement lost on average $20,000 of their life savings.
“This is how the MAGA extremists view the American people. It doesn't matter what will happen to them as long as they are winning their political game. And who's at the center? It's families at home, it's workers, it's small businesses. It is the full faith and credit of the United States and not only the recession and economic catastrophe it could start here, but trigger globally.
“So at a time where our President is asserting the strength of our country here and abroad, bringing manufacturing back, investing in infrastructure and climate resiliency, strengthening NATO, siding with Ukraine, and standing for democracies around the world, this is the vision of the Republican Conference? That you put all that at stake – for what? For what? To make that winner's circle so small that only the very rich and already well-connected continue to prosper? And you're willing to cut off opportunity for American families who are trying to get by, recover from the pandemic, get back on their feet?
“It's hard to take in because it is so cartoon-villain-like. But unlike a cartoon, the American people won't snap back up when you drop that economic anvil on their head.
“This is where we are, and we are grateful to the leadership from this White House, to the leadership from the Democratic Caucus, and what we anticipate we are going to see from our Democratic colleagues in the Senate – for putting the American people first in steering the way for this country back to sanity and rejecting extremism.”