ICYMI: New Dems, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader Hoyer Hold Press Conference Celebrating the Coalition’s 25th Anniversary
Today, New Democrat Coalition Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Vice Chairs Scott Peters (CA-52), Annie Kuster (NH-02), Ami Bera (CA-07), Leadership Members Brad Schneider (IL-10) and Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06) held a press conference with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to celebrate the New Democrat Coalition’s 25th Anniversary and a quarter century of leadership, innovative solutions, and results in Congress.
You can read a transcript of the press call below and watch the full press conference here:
Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01): I'm Suzan DelBene, the Chair of the New Democrat Coalition, and I appreciate everyone being here today. Before I begin, I want to acknowledge that this has really been a painful time for our country. On Saturday, we saw the horrific, racist mass shooting in Buffalo, and we're still reeling from the leak of the Supreme Court draft decision that would take away a woman's constitutional right to decide her own health care. We're here in Congress so we can tackle these tough issues and improve American lives. And that's what New Dems do, and what we have always done.
So with that, I want to thank all of you for joining us today as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the New Democrat Coalition. We're excited to share with you all the history of the Coalition, the role New Dems have played in Congress over the last 25 years, and our vision for the future. For those who don't know, our Coalition was born out of the New Democrat movement in the late 1990s.
During President Clinton's second term, it was a time of tense toxic politics at the cusp of the new millennium. That's why a group of House Democrats who were fed up with the partisan gridlock established the New Democrat Coalition in Congress with the goal of bridging the gap between the left and the right to deliver on the issues most important to the American people.
Our founders understood the new information age would present never-before-seen challenges and opportunities that would require fresh ideas over stale thinking. And ever since that day – 25 years ago–we've worked to advance a forward-looking agenda to grow our economy, spur innovation, and strengthen American global leadership so that every American can succeed.
Our members have a proven track record of delivering on these issues over the last quarter century. And we've earned a reputation as the “Get Stuff Done” caucus in Congress. In addition to being serious legislators, our members are the Majority Makers in Congress and the reason that Democrats can make good governance work today. The bottom line is when our members win – we win majorities, and we get things done for the American people.
Before I turn it over to our leadership members, I want to recognize a few people who were instrumental to the creation of the New Dems in the early days: Our founders, Jim Moran, Tim Romer and Cal Dooley. NDN, Simon Rosenberg, who played an essential role in founding the Coalition. Helen Milby, who has been really been the New Dem glue for 25 years. Third Way’s Matt Bennett and Jim Kessler. PPI’s Will Marshall. Debbie Cox Bultan, Holly Page, Al From, and many, many others.
But now, I'm excited. We've had many folks join us in celebrating our 25th anniversary, and I’m so excited that we have with us today our Speaker Nancy Pelosi. So let me turn it over to her speaker.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Thank you so much, Suzan DelBene for your leadership of the New – the New Dems, the New Democrats. This is pretty exciting. And I salute you, the leadership team and our friends who have gathered here, and I really was enjoying your reading the names and the history over the 25 years of all who were a resource to the New Dems. I thank you, New Dems. The creation of New Dems – and the celebration 25 years later is indeed a cause for celebration.
The New Dems brought, with clarity, to our discussion an entrepreneurial spirit, not just entrepreneurial ideas, but entrepreneurial thinking – thinking with fresh eyes on the subject in a way that helped grow our economy with – for prosperity and progress. And to do so in a way that helped us pass the Affordable Care Act, help us pass other initiatives. So important. And just – if I can just use one example, recently, the infrastructure bill – so important, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. But any of us who care about our nation's children are deeply indebted to Suzan DelBene for her – not only leadership of the New Dems, but to leading the Coalition with her commitment to the Child Tax Credit, as a Member.
Now we are fighting for the COMPETES Act. And so many of the leaderships in that – leadership – so much of leadership on that discussion springs from the New Dem Coalition. What are we calling – the New Democrats, the New Democrats, what a great name. There's no better name than you can give anything than saying it's new, right? New. And the inference to be drawn from being new is that you're free from the past. They're not necessarily free from the past. They've shared values with the past, but new fresh thinking, new fresh eyes on the subject.
So I'm very excited. I can't believe it's 25 years that have gone by. Some of these Members – are any Members still here from 25 years ago?
Vice Chair Annie Kuster (NH-02): Not in this group.
Speaker Pelosi: Not in this – not in leadership. But that's, you know, the constant reinvigoration of talent within the group as part of its entrepreneurial spirit.
So with that, I congratulate you on 25 great years – for, again, leadership rendered to the country, difference – differences made in legislation and improvement in the lives of the American people.
Congratulations, New Democrats. I yield back.
Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01): I now want to turn it over to our Vice Chair for Policy, Congressman Scott Peters of California. Thank you.
Vice Chair for Policy Scott Peters (CA-52): Thank you, everyone, for being here. And thanks to my colleagues and to Speaker Pelosi in particular. We've accomplished a lot over our last 25 years in Congress and will always be focused on the future. In 1997, New Dems fully embraced the opportunities of the 21st century, and we centered our work on technology and innovation. As allies of the Clinton White House, we worked to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class so everyone in America has the chance to climb the economic ladder.
Under President Obama, who said in 2009, “I am a New Democrat.” Our Coalition played a major role in shaping and advancing the Affordable Care Act and getting it to the President's desk.
But we haven't just made progress under Democratic presidents. Under President Trump, New Dems held the administration accountable while working across the aisle to secure the passage of USMCA, which updated NAFTA for the 21st century.
And today, New Dems are working with President Biden to set the agenda in Congress. Our members helped write and unanimously voted to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to create jobs, strengthen our economy, and reduce inflation. We also passed the American Rescue Plan to turn the page on the pandemic. Right now, we're leading the charge on a bipartisan innovation bill to secure supply chains and ease long term inflation to bring down prices for Americans.
Tackling inflation is a top priority for our Coalition, and it's why we created the first of its kind Inflation Working Group to find policy solutions for lower prices. It's a great example of what makes New Dems special.
We listen to the issues that matter to our constituents and find new ideas to address the old challenges. We'll continue to push to pass bipartisan legislation to cut costs for Americans to make our community safer, and to expand economic opportunities. That's what Americans want. And that's exactly what we will do as New Dems.
And now I'll turn it over to our Vice Chair. My colleague, Ami Bera from California.
Rep. Ami Bera (CA-07): Great, thanks to Scott and Suzan, both my classmates.
We are New Democrats, but we're also 25 years old now. So yeah, when the vision of those 32 members came together in 1997, it was about getting things done. And that is, as our Chairwoman said, what we're about. We want to move forward, we want to have progress. And today we are almost 100 members, 98 members strong and continuing to grow.
It is about finding that middle ground to give every American a shot. And that's what we're really about. It's finding solutions to America's challenges.
We've seen in the last two years with the pandemic, the challenges that we've faced, the importance of being able to work together to find those solutions and get us through this pandemic. So, I couldn't be prouder of who we are as New Democrats.
We've got members from rural America, we've got members from the coast, we've got members from the cities. We're an incredibly diverse group, as you can see from the folks that are standing behind me, were a reflection of what America is and, you know, that's what this is all about. And our Coalition represents that center of gravity within the Democratic Party. So on this 25th anniversary, let's say, you know, here's to the next 25 years as we move this country forward, and solve the problems and the challenges of the 21st century. And with that, let me also introduce another one of our classmates, Vice Chair for Communications Representative Annie Kuster.
Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02): Thank you, Ami. Great to be with you all. I'm Congresswoman Annie Kuster from New Hampshire and I'm proud to serve as the New Democrat Vice Chair for Communications. I have always called the New Dem Coalition the ‘Can Do Caucus’. Our members work across the aisle and throughout the Capitol to find solutions to everyday issues that Americans care most about. Scott Peters and I have just come from a very successful bipartisan markup on bills that the New Dems identified relating to mental health and addiction treatment coming out of the COVID pandemic. This was true when the Coalition was founded 25 years ago, and it remains true today. When we were elected in 2012, the New Dems became my homeroom with Suzan, Derek, Brad, Ami and Scott.
I was elected in a red to blue district, defeating a 14-year Republican incumbent. And with the voices on the far ends of the political spectrum growing louder and louder, our New Dem members now are more important than ever before to the future of our country and the future of the Democratic Party. We are the steady, pragmatic and clear-eyed members of Congress. And we focus on good policies that will set families up for certainty and success in the long term.
Last month, as I mentioned, we endorsed a slate of bipartisan bills focused on addressing addiction and expanding access to treatment for mental health and disorders, and many of those bills were passed [in committee] today and will be coming to the floor soon. We're committed to working across the aisle with our colleagues on both sides to get this legislation over the finish line and to provide relief to American families. I'm proud to help advance many of these bills in Energy and Commerce but also in Agriculture, lowering costs for consumers, including prescription drugs, enacting the clean energy agenda, and lowering the cost of food.
New Dems knows that making progress is what's truly progressive. A strong center is the key to our governing majority and our battleground members are an important line of defense against extremist control of Congress. As we look ahead, we must continue to embrace the growth of the moderate members in Congress and communicate our critical work that we are getting done in Congress. So, with that, the Can-Do Caucus, I'll turn it over to our whip Chrissy Houlahan.
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06): Thank you everybody. My name is Chrissy Houlahan, I represent Pennsylvania's Sixth Congressional District, but I also am standing here representing the New Dems very, very proudly. I was part of the historic class of 2018, and my colleagues and I worked our hearts out to win our races. And as a result, we became the Majority Makers here in Congress. So, I know firsthand how important it is that our members are the future of the Democratic Party.
Americans entrusted us with the majority because we ran on kitchen table issues. Americans care about things like lowering health care costs, strengthening the middle class, and upholding our democracy. They then reelected us in 2020, and we continue to make good on these promises with the work that we've done with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the American Rescue Plan amongst others.
But as New Dems – we know that our work is never done. So, as we reflect on these last 25 years and look ahead to the future 25 years, we know what works and what doesn't. We know that working across the aisle and making progress on pragmatic policies, yields results, and it's what matters to our communities.
We know that to get things done, we need a Democratic Party that understands the value of compromise. And we know that we need to find new solutions that address the urgent issues that are facing Americans, issues like inflation.
And we know better than anyone how crucial this very moment that we're speaking into is. New Dems are on the front lines of our democracy. I'm grateful to have my homeroom be the New Dems. And with that, I will turn it over to Representative Brad Schneider.
Rep. Brad Schneider (IL-10): Thanks Chrissy and good afternoon. Today, we've talked a lot about working across the aisle and New Dems – that is the core of who we are. But I'm gonna take it a step further.
Our role is not only to reach across the aisle here on the Capitol, we do it at home in our districts and across the country. The work we do here in Congress is fundamentally the conversation with our constituents.
We can't survive if we're just a party that talks to ourselves. We have to reach out and talk to those who agree with us. Those who may not yet see it, how we see it, and those who disagree with us. There are disaffected Republicans all over America who feel the extremist rhetoric within their party is leaving them behind. Those constituents might have a pre-existing notion of who the Democrats are or what the Democrats believe.
The New Dems stand as a reminder that Democrats aren't monolithic in our thinking. We share the same values as a party, but there's a healthy debate amongst Democrats about the size of government or the way to spend taxpayer funds or the role of the private sector. And all that is a very good thing.
New Dems provide a counterbalance to the cartoonish image of Democrats that's shown on Fox News and other news stations every night. We want to lower the collective temperature in our politics, while raising the level of debate in our country and in the Capitol.
For Americans of all stripes who simply want government to function and get things done on their behalf – the New Dems are here. At a time of rising political tension in America, the New Dems’ role couldn't be more important.
We have voice, we're making a difference, and I'm proud to be a part of the New Dems and the future that we're charting over the next 25 years. And with that, let me turn it back to our Chairwoman Suzan DelBene.
Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01): We've had some folks come in and out. I know Congressman Horsford, Congressman Norma Torres are here. We're also joined by our Chair Emeritus Derek Kilmer. He has a has a translation of what “Chair Emeritus” means. We have a Bill Foster and Troy Carter with us too, and we're 98 members strong and the largest in the House Democratic Caucus...Let me turn it over to Leader Hoyer.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: “Thank you, Congresswoman [DelBene], I appreciate it very much. I was otherwise detained, but I knew that I wanted to get here before you closed, because I believe that the New Dems are such an important part of our Caucus, our Democratic Caucus, such extraordinary vision for the future. That's really what the New Dems have been focused on: the future. They've been focused on growing jobs For The People, and making sure that we were the successful economic enterprise that America has meant, not to our own people, but to the rest of the world. So, I want to congratulate all the leadership and all the Members of the New Dems who I feel very, very close to because they are focused on getting a job done for America and For The People. They have been very successful in that focus. So I want to thank the New Democrats for a quarter of a century of positive leadership for America, positive leadership for the Congress, and positive participation in the Democratic Caucus. They have and continue to make a real difference.
“We have a bill that we just talked about, the [America] COMPETES bill, which is focused on making sure that Americans Make It In America, that we create the kinds of jobs, we create the kind of self-sufficiency that's necessary so that we are not relying on the unreliable sources of materials to grow our economy. CHIPS is a perfect example of that. This group has been one of the strongest supporters of the COMPETES bill, or USICA as the Senate has called it. I want to thank all of you, because it will make and is making a difference for America.
“I'm glad I got opportunity – I got a speech here, but I'm not going to give it because I knew what I wanted to say about the New Dems. They are an extraordinary group of people. I want to remind everybody, they're not all the same kind of thinker. You can't target them as conservative or progressives or whatever and they take the gamut. Some of them are progressive, some of them are more conservative. What they all are, they share in common an understanding that we need to grow our economy, keep our economy vibrant and vital for our people, so that they will have jobs can support their families, and that they will have the benefits and opportunities that they need.
“That is why the New Democrats are so effective because they're focused on getting results For The People. Thank you very much for allowing me to work with you. I'm not a member of the New Dems, but then again, I'm not a member of any of the parts of the party because of course, I'm the Majority Leader of all of our Caucuses, but I so enjoy working with the New Dems because they're so oriented on getting things done. Thank you.”
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