Dec 8, 2021
House Progressives Call for Lauren Boebert to be Stripped of Committees Press Conference Transcript
Progressive Democratic representatives held a press conference on December 8, calling for Lauren Boebert to be immediately stripped of her committee assignments following Boebert’s racist comments towards Ilhan Omar. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Representative Pressley: (00:11)
Good afternoon. It brings me great sadness that we even have to gather here today, once again, to denounce and condemn the racist, hateful, and unacceptable behavior of yet another one of our Republican colleagues. It is shameful that we have had to wait this long for meaningful action, for meaningful accountability, but here we are. Today, we stand in solidarity with Representative Omar and our Muslim colleagues, who for too long have been targets of unprecedented hate and vitriol. We stand in solidarity with the Muslim staffers who bravely raised their voices in an open letter earlier today, calling for accountability, calling for a workplace where they can feel safe, where their families do not have to fear that they will be targeted or harassed. Today, we stand in solidarity with the broader Muslim community.
Representative Pressley: (01:03)
For a member of Congress to repeatedly and unapologetically use hateful, racist, and Islamophobic tropes towards a Muslim colleague is dangerous. This sort of toxic behavior has no place in the halls of Congress, and it diminishes the honor of the institution that we all serve in. It has no place in our public discourse. It has no place in our society. It has no place in any workplace, period. Over the last week, we have seen a growing coalition of lawmakers call for real, meaningful accountability for Rep. Boebert’s actions. When we asked for an apology, an acknowledgement of her racist and blatantly false comments, we were met with even more racism and bigotry.
Representative Pressley: (01:52)
When we called on Republican leader McCarthy to hold this member of his caucus accountable, we were met with defiance and gaslighting. Enough is enough. Each day that passes without meaningful accountability, we risk normalizing this behavior and endangering the lives of our Muslim colleagues, Muslim staff, and every Muslim who calls this country home. And despite what some may argue, this is not about any one member of Congress. This is about accountability. This is about protecting the integrity of the House of Representatives and about living up to the very values that we espouse and claim to represent.
Representative Pressley: (02:36)
Many of us here today witnessed firsthand the consequences of the previous president’s rhetoric when he incited a mob of violent insurrectionists to attack our seat of government. We have heard the hate and credible threats that have been directed at Rep. Omar and her staff. Words have consequences. We must acknowledge that, and respond with action. We’ve introduced this resolution today to do just that, and to send a powerful message to every Muslim and every marginalized person who has ever questioned their place in this country or in the halls of power. We see you. You belong, you are powerful, and you deserve a life free from fear and filled with dignity and love.
Representative Pressley: (03:20)
How we respond in moments like these will have a lasting impact, and history will remember us for it. The world is watching. I look forward to working with House leadership to get this resolution across the finish line. And now we’ll hear from Representative Jamaal Bowman, representing New York 16.
Representative Jamaal Bowman: (03:47)
Thank you, Congresswoman Pressley, for your leadership on this issue. It’s heartbreaking that we have to be here. It seems like every week we return to Congress, we have to have similar conversations regarding our Republican colleagues who continue to behave in ways that are unbecoming and unacceptable not just for members of Congress, but for anyone in any workplace across this country and around the world. We cannot normalize this rhetoric, this language, anti-Muslim hate, Islamophobia, and racism, sexism, and discrimination in any form. We cannot normalize it. And if we do not act accordingly, if leadership does not act accordingly, we are condoning that behavior not just here in Congress, but we are sending the message across the country and around the world that anti-Muslim hate is okay, that Islamophobia is okay, and it is not okay.
Representative Jamaal Bowman: (04:55)
This is about simple decency. We all claim as Democrats, as Republicans, whether conservative or progressive, we all claim to care about the Constitution, and we all claim to care about our democracy. But if we do not act now, swiftly, it shows very clearly that we do not care. We do not care about the first amendment, and we will continue as a body to marginalize certain groups of [inaudible 00:05:25] people simply because of who they are. And we, particularly in this moment, have to do better. Particularly after four years of the president we just had, particularly considering how we have Republican members of Congress, not just Representative Boebert, but others who continue to fan the flames of racial violence and discrimination, and seem to be proud of that.
Representative Jamaal Bowman: (05:54)
That is not the nation that I want to be a part of. That is not a Congress that I want to be a part of. That is not the country that I want to raise my children in, and I worry about the message we are sending to children across this country, despite what our Constitution and our democracy is all about. So we stand here in solidarity with Congresswoman Omar, Muslims across this country, and Muslims around the world. And we demand that we do better, and we demand that we evolve into and become the strong multiracial, multiethnic democracy that we can be and must be. The world is watching. So we must send a strong message. If we are about democracy and the Constitution, then we must show that.
Representative Jamaal Bowman: (06:45)
And I want to say personally, representing New York 16, that I am about love and caring for all people, and I encourage all of us to be about the same thing. And as a former educator, I encourage us to be educated on our differences as a nation, because only through that education will we be able to come together and respond in this moment, not just to Congresswoman Boebert, but all of the other rhetoric that’s happening across our country. Thank you very much. It is my honor to introduce Representative Cori Bush.
Representative Cori Bush: (07:25)
Okay. Good afternoon, everyone. St. Louis and I will not stand by and allow Islamophobic, racist, and [inaudible 00:07:38] attacks to go unchecked. St. Louis and I stand here in solidarity with my sister in service, my good friend, Congresswoman Omar, because we need this country to know, we need our own leadership to know, that no member is above accountability. St. Louis and I did not come to Congress to watch bigots parade around our workplace, abusing and harassing our colleagues. Congressional leadership has a responsibility to show that this kind of behavior is unacceptable everywhere.
Representative Cori Bush: (08:12)
And that work must start in the halls of power. Kevin McCarthy and his Republican … It is time for Democratic leadership to act, bring our resolution to the House floor for a vote. Show this country that we firmly stand against Islamophobia, and that we will protect Rep. Omar and the livelihoods and the lives of Muslim communities around this country. If we’re serious about tackling the systems of entrenched white supremacy that stain every fiber of this country, then we need to start right here, right in this Capitol. We need to start with this lying, Islamophobic, race-baiting, violence inciting, white supremacist sentiment spreading, Christmas tree gun toting elected official, who is out here straight up calling her colleagues terrorists.
Representative Cori Bush: (09:23)
Lauren Boebert is a danger to this country. She is a danger to the Muslim staffers that work here. She is a danger to her fellow members of Congress. Removing her from her committees is the least leadership can do to protect every employee, visitor, and member of this body. While I definitely wish we didn’t have to keep coming back assembling every few weeks to do this, once again, Black and Brown women are carrying the water for this country, for the rest of our country, by urging leadership to act to keep us safe. We stand here today united in calling for immediate consideration of our legislation to remove Lauren Boebert from all of her committee assignments. Thank you. Next, we will have our chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, none other than Pramila Jayapal.
Representative Pramila Jayapal: (10:21)
Thank you, Representative Bush, and thank you Congresswoman Pressley for bringing us together and just for showing tremendous leadership as we demand accountability for Lauren Boebert’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, Islamophobia, and dangerous and incendiary actions. I also want to thank my friend, Congresswoman Omar, for showing such strength, displaying true grace, and for being a fearless champion on behalf of her constituents, on behalf of Muslims across America, and everyone throughout this country.
Representative Pramila Jayapal: (10:54)
We are here today because we refuse to stand by as Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, anti-immigrant sentiment, and xenophobia are trafficked into the halls of Congress by members of the Republican Party. Long before ever serving in elected office, I was an organizer, and I got my start in the wake of 9/11 as we fought back against the hate, discrimination, racism, and xenophobia that were targeting Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities across America. We organized as we witnessed loved ones targeted on account of their faith, their race, their national origin, and their immigration station. We didn’t stay silent as that occurred. We didn’t sit back. And we’re not sitting back now as it rears its ugly head again, right from within the halls of Congress.
Representative Pramila Jayapal: (11:49)
Last week, I was very proud, as the chair of the congressional caucus, progressive caucus, to join the chairs of the Black caucus, the Asian Pacific American caucus, the Hispanic caucus, and the equality caucus, who powerfully stood together arm-in-arm to call for Representative Boebert to be removed from her committees. Today, we are introducing a resolution to make it happen because Muslims throughout the country are looking to Congress, watching to see if those they sent to represent them are going to stand up in the face of blatant, vicious Islamophobia. We owe it to them, and we owe it to every person who has been the recipient of harassment and abuse based on their religion, their race, their gender, their sexuality, or other identity, to speak out.
Representative Pramila Jayapal: (12:37)
We have to make clear that their votes to send us means something, and that our values mean something too. We can’t act in one case, but then when it comes to Islamophobia, say this doesn’t merit action. Our response to behavior that creates a dangerous work environment and furthers a climate of toxicity and intolerance cannot be silenced. Congress cannot forego accountability when a member…
Representative Pramila Jayapal: (13:03)
… silent. Congress cannot forego accountability when a member engages in hate speech that dehumanizes not only a colleague but an entire people and puts their lives at risk. We cannot be complicit as members of this body trample on the fundamental right of religious freedom and put people’s lives in danger. We stand in solidarity for Rep Omar and we urge every single one of our colleagues to join us in sponsoring this resolution in securing accountability and furthering justice, and we call on our leadership to bring this resolution to the floor and ensure that we have true accountability. With that, it is my great honor to introduce my friend, former chair of the progressive caucus, Barbara Lee.
Barbara Lee: (13:47)
Thank you very much, chairwoman [inaudible 00:13:49]. Thank you for your tremendous leadership. Also to congresswoman Presley, thank you so much for once again stepping out there being bold, being visionary and making sure that the word goes out that hate will not be tolerated in the house of representatives and here on Capitol Hill.
Barbara Lee: (14:11)
And yes, our sister and our colleague, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, she has consistently been the subject of the far right’s hateful, bigoted and disgusting Islamophobia, this time by one of her own colleagues. And so we’re here today to send a clear message that hate will not be tolerated in these halls of congress or anywhere in this country. This type of hate speech really is beyond the pale. Republicans just want to look the other way when members of their caucus send out death threats to other members. When Republicans don’t condemn death threats against their colleagues, it sends a message to the public that these threats are condoned.
Barbara Lee: (14:54)
And so let’s be clear: Hate speech can turn to hate violence. Their silence in light of these threats speaks volumes. This week, the administration, the Biden administration is hosting a democracy summit, which I was part of as we kicked this off. This country prides itself on religious diversity and inclusion, and this means that we will protect all people of all faiths, and that means Islamophobia will not be tolerated. Yes, Congressman Jamaal Bowman indicated and said very clearly the world is watching. Well, it is truly watching at this moment given the democracy summit that we’re participating in.
Barbara Lee: (15:40)
Now, it might be easy for Miss Boebert to shrug this off as a joke, as she tried to do, but for the many women and people of color and Muslims who deal daily with the threat of physical violence, this is no laughing matter. As someone who for decades has had to live with death threats, this is a moment… Let me tell you, this is a moment where we have to say, “Enough is enough.” And so I want to thank all of our members here who have stood up and come forward with this resolution and with our letters saying that because hate speech, again, we all know that it can lead to hate violence. Death threats can lead to death. And shame on Leader McCarthy for remaining silent as his caucus goes unhinged, compromising the safety of our colleagues.
Barbara Lee: (16:36)
This cannot go unchecked. This resolution reinforces that this behavior will not be tolerated and Miss Boebert must be held accountable for her shameful and despicable words. And so I’m proud to be standing here today with my colleagues and calling for her to be stripped of her committee assignments. Enough is enough. Thank you again, Congresswoman Presley, Congressman Bowman. And now I will turn this over to my good colleague, a fighter for justice from southern California, Congressman Jimmy Gomez.
Jimmy Gomez: (17:11)
Thank you so much, Congresswoman Lee. Also to Congresswoman Presley, thank you for leading this important fight. There is a thread of hate and rhetoric that runs through a segment of the Republican GOP caucus. And it is sometimes very implicit and sometimes very explicit saying, “Jihad squad. She doesn’t have a backpack,” to some members calling one of my colleagues from New York the B-word as he walks by or when I was on the elevator going to vote for Build Back Better and I had a Republican member look at me and said, “You people are effing ruining this country.” There is a segment of the Republican caucus that is using rhetoric in order to try to tell us, “You don’t belong here. You don’t represent our values.” That, “You should go back to where you came from.” And it is something that continuously occurs inside the building and outside the building.
Jimmy Gomez: (18:20)
But the leadership of the Republican party here in the house, specifically Kevin McCarthy, is giving them a free pass. And that doesn’t have to be. All of us know that there are rules of decorum within the house that should also extend to outside of the house. In a committee, you can’t even use a person’s first name or you will be… your words will be taken down and you will lose your rights to speak on the floor. If you question another member’s intention of how they’re voting or their intentions of why they’re taking a position, that is a break in decorum. But when we have racism, Islamophobia, when we have sexism, then it becomes okay. You can’t use a person’s name but saying somebody is a terrorist is okay and you’re not going to call them out.
Jimmy Gomez: (19:13)
And it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m on ways and means; when somebody uses a name, it’s a big offense and the ranking member and the chair force that member to apologize. When somebody goes too hard on their rhetoric, they make that member apologize. There is a way to defuse the tension and the [inaudible 00:19:38] in our politics if the Republican leader chooses to do so. But consistently, he’s more concerned about if he’s going to be leader in the future or something else. And he’s beholden to a… and held hostage by a small but growing group of individuals within the Republican caucus. We need to say that enough is enough. Representative Boebert’s language, her actions as well as the actions of other Republicans who confront members on the floor or during their press conferences or during their photo ops is not acceptable. And we do that by making sure that Represent Boebert is stripped of her committee assignments.
Jimmy Gomez: (20:26)
This is about our politics, this is about our country, this is about our values, and that’s why we hold this resolution close because it’s not just about Represent Ilhan Omar, it’s about all of us, about our constituents. It’s about the new immigrant, it’s about the person worshiping how they want to worship, it’s about what our country’s going to look like in the future. And that’s why we got to pass this resolution to strip her of this committees. It is never something that we take lightly, but this is something where we have to draw the line. With that, I want to call up another fighter for justice from the great state of New York, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (21:21)
Thank you so much, Jimmy. And thank you to Congresswoman Ayonna Presley for your leadership on this issue, which is always so steadfast and consistent. But I must say it’s unfortunate that it’s even needed, that this is even needed in this moment. This shouldn’t need a press conference. We shouldn’t need to be gathered here today. We shouldn’t have to be asking for the bare minimum of protection and respect of our colleague, Representative Ilhan Omar.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (21:58)
I think a lot of times people deduce these threats and the result of what happens from this incredibly violent, incredibly racist rhetoric that is accepted. And I would argue at this point, the pattern is now established that Leader McCarthy encourages and is accepting of this targeting, particularly of women of color in the United States Congress. People think this is just emails, they think it’s just angry voicemails because the people inflicting this kind of violence and aggression do not have to live with the consequences of it. They don’t have to ride around in a 20,000 pound armored truck and need six people to go with them just so that they can go to the grocery store because so many people are now trying to target a member due to the Republican caucus’ acceptance of this targeting. And at this point, it not even a small number of this number because Representative Gosar just last month aired all of this about trying… aired something incredibly violent. We all know what happened. And almost the entire caucus voted to protect him except for two Republican members.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (23:34)
Are we surprised at this escalation now, at this targeting of Representative Ilhan Omar? Because this mirrors what is happening in our society where the most vulnerable people and most vulnerable communities whose bigotry, when it’s directed at them, is most often dismissed; that it starts with them. And when we accept that and look the other way and don’t enforce the same rules for everybody, it will make it worse.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (24:17)
I represent thousands of young women, I represent thousands of black, Latino and Muslim communities and immigrant communities and refugees in New York city. So many women will have their hijabs on public transit because of the example that Leader McCarthy and the Republican caucus is setting right now. We have a responsibility to show this country that bigotry is unacceptable and to treat the hallowed halls of this Capitol with the bare respect that any corporate HR office would do anywhere else in this country. This shouldn’t be about politics, this shouldn’t be about Democrat or Republican, this should be about what is completely unacceptable in any context anywhere in this country.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (25:15)
Representative Boebert, whatever her intentions may be for her racism and flagrant bigotry needs to experience a consequence for her actions whether she’s seeking it out or not because when we inconsistently apply consequences to bigotry, we invite more people to test these boundaries. It’s pretty simple. You threaten a colleague or you incite incredibly racist rhetoric against a specific colleague of yours in the United States Congress, you do not have committees. This should be simple, this should be easy. Unfortunately, the Republican caucus is not making it easy, but we should. And I-
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (26:03)
… is not making it easy, but we should, and I’m so grateful to the clarity of conscience of so many of our members that are standing here today and many who aren’t able to stand on this stage right now who also feel the same. It is important that we set this message here, now and forever moving forward, so thank you very much, and I welcome my colleague, Rashida Tlaib.
Rashida Tlaib: (26:36)
Good afternoon and thank you all so much for being here, and thank you so much for my colleagues. I’m not only a colleague up here, but I’m also a fellow Muslimah, so thank you. Thank you, Ayanna. I get emotional, but let me tell you. All of you, your solidarity means so much because when she said that … Right, Debbie? I mean, when she said that, she was evoking violence on Muslims all across our country, and so it’s important to know, of course, Ilhan Omar, when I check up on her, she’s like, “Sis, I survived war. I can survive this.” She says that so that I can stop crying, but I also know that this is hard. This is hard for all of us.
Rashida Tlaib: (27:22)
Women in politics, the violence towards us is increasing. I mean, Debbie, I remember when you were getting them. I remember all of us. I mean, it’s just overwhelming, and all we want to do is serve the community that raised us, the community that brought us here. We do it so much from love, and so I just want you all to know that I am so incredibly grateful that you all are up here and sponsoring a resolution. We shouldn’t have to beg and urge Republicans to do what’s right here. They have Muslims in their communities. I know they do. They call me to say, “Well, how can I talk to them? How can I get them to see us? Rashida, I have a clinic in their community. I do this nonprofit work in their community. How come they don’t see us as fellow, as neighbors, as fellow Americans?”
Rashida Tlaib: (28:06)
It is hard. It is hard being Muslim in our country right now, and this makes it worse. So, let me tell you, it is important for us to understand this is a national platform that we cannot allow her to use to evoke not only … This is not only hate, and I think Barbara Lee, you put it perfectly. It’s not just hate speech, which is God awful, but it’s also hate speech that’s evoking violence and danger towards a whole people in our country. You called a colleague a suicide bomber. You called her a terrorist. You are evicting [inaudible 00:28:39] by saying that you said it about all Muslims in our country, and you know it. You know exactly what you were doing, and you have to be held accountable.
Rashida Tlaib: (28:48)
We can’t continue to say that bigotry has no place in our society, that violence has no place, and then not take any action, to be completely silent, to dismiss it. My two sons deserve to grow up in a country where their faith or religion will not be used as a target. Muslims across our country deserve representatives on both sides of the aisle who will embrace them, not vilify them. That’s why we’re here today. That’s why we’re introducing this resolution. God, I want you to know this is so not political. This is so human and humanitarian. I mean, I just know that mother that’s sending their child with that backpack to school is thinking this, Pramila. I know it. We are sending a strong message that this is hate that will not be tolerated in the halls of Congress. We will not allow it to happen here, y’all.
Speaker 1: (29:39)
Rashida Tlaib: (29:40)
We will send a clear message to all of our Muslim neighbors, to everyone that is experiencing hate that we are standing with you, that you deserve and you belong in our country. You deserve human dignity, and you deserve to feel safe in your communities. Accountability is key here, and I’m glad Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley that you have stood strong, that you took this leadership role of taking this on. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for introducing this, and thank you to all my colleagues that have spoken up and not remain silent. It is so incredibly important. I got to tell you, this is creating a culture that is so hard. It is so hard.
Rashida Tlaib: (30:17)
I still remember my son questioning whether or not he can tell people he’s Muslim. I don’t want him growing up in a country like that, and we can’t allow a colleague to be able to evoke that. We can’t. It’s just wrong because it is increasing violence towards Muslims, and I don’t want to see the hate crime statistics go up. Behind every hate crime is a mother, a daughter, a sister, father, anybody. We’ve seen it over and over again, and I’m done. I’m done staying silent, and I’m so glad. There might be only three Muslims in Congress right now, but I feel like we have hundreds right now up here, standing together. So, thank you so much. Who else is up? Is it Debbie? Oh, yeah. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, come on up. Thanks sis for being here. Love you.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: (31:08)
On my watch, I will never be in a situation where when someone comes for anyone, that there will be no one left to speak for me because I did not speak up. That is a paraphrase of a poem that is on the walls of the United States Holocaust Museum. Right now, while Democrats are fighting to get free pre-K for America’s children and paid leave and childcare for working families, and we’re also at work to ensure the greatest generation has access to more affordable medicine, and the next generation has a healthy planet to live on, we are here once again, forced to confront a Republican member of Congress for making incendiary, bigoted comments directed at one of our own colleagues and endangering her and an entire group of Americans. These are the same kind of comments that result in actual death threats and workplace animus aimed at the members themselves. Worse, this incendiary rhetoric fans hatred toward Muslims much like the violence-laced bombast we heard aimed at Jews and other minorities in the streets of Charlottesville.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: (32:33)
Such hate must not be ignored, and staying silent is not an option, certainly not when it’s uttered by those who work in Congress. We must hold members accountable when their words and hate-filled rhetoric puts their colleagues and staff in harm’s way. We have seen what it can inspire. Ask Steve Scalise. Ask Gabby Giffords, or ask the capital police that were here on January 6th or any of my staffers who handled a pipe bomb after it was delivered to my district office. Ask the staffers who opened grotesque, threatening mail riddled with Swastika’s racism, Islamophobia and violent words and imagery every day in these buildings. To think that similar rhetoric and language is being perpetuated by a member who is elected to this body is just repulsive.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: (33:22)
Democrats are and should be focused on building real and symbolic bridges, both inside and connecting our communities, and we cannot lose sight of that, but failing to exact consequences for this dangerous bigotry will lead to more hate, and inevitably, it will lead to more violent threats or actions aimed at our own members and the communities they call home. Congress cannot normalize Islamophobia, and that’s what this member is doing. This member has repeatedly uttered anti-Muslim rhetoric, referring to a member in this body as a terrorist and enemy combatant because of her faith and appearance, and there has been no serious sign of contrition. History reminds us that we cannot ignore this type of hatred, and my conscience tells me I cannot simply look the other way.
Representative Pressley: (34:23)
Oops. Thank you. Sorry. Thank you. Okay. We’ll take the first question from CNN.
Speaker 2: (34:30)
Congresswoman Pressley, Speaker Pelosi has not yet supported this resolution publicly. What assurance did you have from leadership that this will be put to a vote on the floor, and if it doesn’t happen, what other steps are you all planning to take if this doesn’t end up going to the floor?
Representative Pressley: (34:47)
Yeah. Well, first and foremost, let me just say that Speaker Pelosi has always demonstrated her support for Representative Omar and others, their religious freedom, which is why she changed the rules so that Representative could wear a head covering on the House floor. We’ve been on ongoing conversation with Democratic leadership, and I’m confident that there will be action taken, and there must because inaction is to be complicit in Islamophobia. I don’t know about all of you, but Build Back Better to me is about much more than an infrastructure bill. We’re at an inflection point as a nation, and I refuse to accept that to be gay is for it to be par for the course to experience homophobia, to be a woman is it par for the course for you to experience misogyny, to be black is par for the course or immigrant or Hispanic or Asian that it’s par for the course that you will experience hate.
Representative Pressley: (35:44)
I’m just centering every day the words Angela Davis. I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I’m changing the things I can no longer accept, and inaction is to be complicit, so we need accountability. Representative Boebert should be stripped of her committees. As I said, the world is watching. This is not just about Representative Omar. It is about every Muslim that calls this country home, and I might add, also a formidable voting bloc.
Speaker 2: (36:11)
Do you have assurances from her that this will happen?
Representative Pressley: (36:14)
I am confident that we will reach a resolution resulting in accountability, and every option must be on the table because without accountability, we embolden further action like this, and as Representative Lee made eloquently plain, that hate speech leads to hate violence.
Speaker 2: (36:35)
Representative Pressley: (36:36)
Yes, in the gray.
Speaker 3: (36:40)
Quick question. [inaudible 00:36:42]
Representative Pressley: (36:42)
In the gray. Yes.
Speaker 3: (36:43)
Oh, the more handsome one.
Speaker 4: (36:44)
Any of you may address this. I’m curious, you just spoke about inaction and complicity. I’m curious at one point, given the difference in time between, say when the House moved to punish Rep. Gosar over his video of constant protest. At what point do you believe House leadership and Speaker Pelosi do become complicit failing to condemn Islamophobia?
Representative Pressley: (37:11)
Well, it’s no secret that Islamophobia has really been a part of our national discourse for too long, but again, Speaker Pelosi said it from the beginning that she would always fight Representative Omar’s freedom … for her freedom of religion. Again, it’s why she changed the House rules to allow people with religious head coverings on the floor. I expect that she will lead on this.
Representative Pressley: (37:29)
What I’m looking for in this moment is equitable outrage, but I also don’t want us to confuse things here because only one party’s president tried to ban every Muslim from this country. Only one party has said the problem in this country is Muslims. Only one party has members saying the opposition have suicide belts. So, in this moment, it’s about equitable outrage. It’s about consequences.
Representative Pressley: (38:00)
Representative Omar and every Muslim aid who submitted this open letter today on behalf of their families and their communities, speaking to the real vulnerability and fear that they live with every single day, they deserve and demand nothing less than accountability. Otherwise, we are emboldening hate speech and hate violence. Period. So, I’m confident that we will reach a resolution that there will be accountability. Rep. Boebert’s words have had consequences for Rep. Omar and the entire Muslim community, and now, there need to be consequences for Rep. Boebert. Any one of my colleagues can feel free to comment or to step up. Oh, and of course, we want to see this resolution brought to the floor.
Speaker 1: (38:53)
Representative Pressley: (38:54)
We want to see it passed. Congressional intent is a powerful tool, and every tool should …
Representative Pressley: (39:03)
… tool, and every tool of accountability should be on the table in this moment. Yes, in the brown.
Speaker 5: (39:11)
Representative Pressley: (39:12)
I’m sorry, I’ll get to this side, y’all. I don’t mean to be not equitable here. Okay.
Speaker 5: (39:16)
So this would be the third instance this year of Democrats looking to hold a Republican accountable for offensive remarks and the second incident in a month. What is your response to members that might be saying, “Are we going to do this every time somebody says something that is racist or that is homophobic or anything of that nature?” Do you think there’s the stamina to go through this the next time something like this happens?
Representative Pressley: (39:40)
Well, unfortunately, there’s been the stamina to remain quiet in the face of decades of these sorts of bigotry and racist tropes. So if we’re going to have stamina for hate, we sure as hell need to have stamina to denounce those things which we reject and to affirm those things with which we hold dear.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: (40:10)
Can I answer?
Representative Pressley: (40:10)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: (40:10)
Thank you. As some of you know, I sponsored the resolution that stripped Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committees, and in the last few weeks we stripped Congressman Gosar of his. And in each of those standards, it was because we’re the only party that actually has standards when it comes to holding members accountable. Usually, over the time that I’ve been in Congress, which is 17 years, each party has held its own member accountable when that was warranted. The Republican Party led by Kevin McCarthy has abdicated that responsibility. The standard that was used in the last two times in which we stripped a member of their committees was when they brought danger or promoted the killing of another member of Congress. In this instance, there is no question that when another member suggested that this member was a suicide bomber potentially or had explosives in her hijab that endangered her life.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: (41:13)
And when you endanger the life of another colleague, then you forfeit your right to have the significant responsibility of making policy in this body. We don’t have a lot of tools at our disposal, but neutering a member’s ability to be effective, maybe to send a signal to their constituents that you might not want this person representing you because they’re not going to be able to full throatedly represent you and make a difference for your life. That’s the kind of consequences no matter how much money she might raise off of it or beat her chest over how much attention she’s getting, there’s no way that any member wants to be deprived of their ability to serve on committees and make policy. That’s generally why we all come here. You threaten another member’s life, then we in our party are going to speak up and speak out and not be silent. [inaudible 00:42:12].
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (42:15)
And just on that note too, on this idea of stamina, isn’t that the point of repeatedly harassing and targeting people of color is the idea that we will tire of defending our values and eventually we will relent and then allow this violence to occur because it just happens so much? I think that the thing is, is that we don’t want a whole to-do. I know Representative Omar would rather just wake up and live her life and serve honorably as she continues to do. And like I said, we don’t need all of this. When these things happen, the next day, it should be almost as procedural. I’ll vote to uphold our values with a cup of coffee and then we can go on and continue Build Back Better. This shouldn’t have to take a whole day, all this energy, all this stuff. We have strict rules. You violate them, the consequence is consistent. It doesn’t have to be that big of a deal. But there does need to be justice.
Representative Pressley: (43:28)
That’s right. Thank you both. And, again, I just want to reiterate that there is growing momentum across our caucus in support of this resolution, and thankfully a full rejection and intolerance of this hate speech and these actions. And so, again, in this moment, what we’re looking for is equitable outrage. We reject antisemitism. We reject Islamophobia. We reject anti-Black, anti-immigrant sentiment. We reject homophobia, misogyny. These are very basic. And to Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s point, at the end of the day, we don’t want to espouse values that we’re not practicing.
Speaker 6: (44:17)
Can you just add to that?
Barbara Lee: (44:18)
Yeah. This is the very essence of democracy, which is what all of us have been saying. And I just want to remind you, once again, the Democracy Summit is taking place right now as we speak led by the United States of America. And so, at this moment in time, hopefully everyone will understand that it’s incumbent upon us in terms of our global leadership that we continue to move toward that more perfect union and what we’re doing today and with this resolution takes us another step toward that.
Representative Pressley: (44:53)
Okay, on this side, yes, in the pink tie. Yes, you.
Speaker 7: (44:58)
So we’re here talking about accountability. Is there any form of accountability that would be acceptable to you besides removal from committees like say censure or any other options on the table?
Representative Pressley: (45:09)
Well, right now, here today, we’re talking about this resolution which is on the table. Again, Congressional intent is powerful. We’re looking for accountability here and I think every option should be on the table. Yes, in the yellow tie.
Speaker 8: (45:24)
So you’re in these talks with leadership, where are the delays? It sounds like you agree that the comments were discussing. Pelosi has said that. You have said that. Why the delay? Where’s the sticking points in these discussions? Why have they not accepted this?
Representative Pressley: (45:39)
Well, the resolution was just introduced today, so I’m sure we’ll be talking after this. Okay, last question.
Speaker 2: (45:45)
Well, following up on that. How quickly do you expect, is this something that’s going to happen by the end of the year? And going back to this idea of accountability, this is, again, the third time you’ve done this. It’s not stopping this type of rhetoric, and some of them are actually wearing it as a badge of honor. What is the end goal with all these?
Representative Pressley: (46:08)
Well, I intend, and I’m sure I won’t be alone in this, that I will continue to speak out and to stand up in a front in resistance to hate. It’s really that symbol. We need to denounce those things which are repugnant and that we reject, that are in conflict with our values, our values as a country, as a democracy, as a Democratic Party, and affirm those things with which we hold dear.
Representative Cori Bush: (46:37)
Hang on. And let me add, I think we also have to remember our title. Our title is Representative. And so if we signed up to represent, we didn’t sign up saying, “These are the people that I will represent in my district.” We signed up saying that, “We will represent the district of whatever that is,” meaning all the people within that district. But we also signed up to be in federal office, which means that our words, the power that we have affects the entire country, which means every single person in the entire country. And it is our job to respect and uphold the dignity of every single person in this country. And if we choose not to, then we should not be in this seat. And you forfeit that by calling out a group of people and making them to be something that they are not. And I think that we’re talking about, how much can we deal with this? How long can we do this? When will leadership step up and all of that? His job is to be Rep. Gomez and to speak up for his community and to stand against the hatred like he’s doing, and whatever that looks like that’s how he pushes. The same thing with the leadership of Rep. Pressley. She stands up and she speaks out for her community, for her district, the way that she knows she needs to. So it’s not about how long can we make this happen? I’ve been Black in America for my whole life. We can stand and we can push and we can fight because if we don’t, this is not just about what’s happening right now. This is about the legacy of this country.
Representative Cori Bush: (48:13)
And if we feel like, “I’m tired,” we ain’t seen tired. This is not tired. We can continue to fight and push, and there is no amount of rhetoric or hurt that can come against us to make us say, “Enough is enough of us fighting something that we should not have to fight.” It’s our job. We signed up for Congress. It is our job out to make sure that our people are safe in this country yourself. [crosstalk 00:48:39].
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: (48:40)
I’m sorry, can I? I want to respond to what you said, because it’s important to understand that the threat of losing your committees is a powerful disincentive. We have already removed two members from their committees, and you say that it keeps happening and it hasn’t been effective, I would argue that it probably has been effective because there’s plenty of extremist members on the other side of the aisle whose staffs may have brought them tweets who might have thought about saying something and then thought twice because they know that there’s a consequence potentially hanging over their head. Even the introduction of this resolution demonstrates that you will be held accountable for what you say if you threaten another member. And I think that’s important to know.
Representative Pressley: (49:28)
That’s the final question.
Speaker 9: (49:30)
[crosstalk 00:49:30] Republicans take the majority?
Representative Pressley: (49:30)
That’s the final question. Thank you very much. Thank you to all of my colleagues and thank you to the ancestors.
Speaker 10: (49:38)