Transcript: DCCC Chair Steve Israel’s remarks on the diversity of the House Democratic Caucus
Transcript of Rep. Steve Israel, Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, at a press conference introducing the newly-elected Democratic House Members on Nov. 13, 2012:
Thank you all very much. Thank you to Leader Pelosi for her tenacity and the – just an unprecedented work ethic. And to my new colleagues, welcome. Thank you all for being here.
The Leader told me when she asked me to Chair DCCC that it would be a labor, it really was a labor of love. I’ve enjoyed every single day of this job.
I think it says something about our unexpected pickups that you had to unexpectedly use your wide angle lenses to capture the incredible wealth of talent and diversity that we have.
With these new Members, the Tea Party starts to rollback and problem solving can move forward. And that’s what this election was all about.
These leaders wake up every single morning not thinking about left, or thinking about right, they wake up every single morning thinking about how to move their communities forward, how to move this country forward, how to solve problems. They are solutionists. They are Mayors who had to balance budgets and fill potholes. They are veterans who defended the nation. They are small business people who created jobs. They are doctors who delivered health care.
I make two other very quick points: the Leader mentioned this, and I think it really is a major takeaway from this election, these new Members reflect the priorities, and the diversity, and the values of the districts that elected them.
The Republican Caucus, if you look at it, it looks like a rerun of the show Mad Men. Our Caucus looks like America. Our Caucus looks like Congressional districts throughout America.
61 Democratic women, 43 Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, 27 Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, 10 Asian-Pacific Americans, as the Leader said: “The most diverse Caucus in the history of Congress,” she said in the history of civilization, and I think because of the addition of women, and African-Americans, and Hispanics, and Asians, it not only is the most diverse Caucus in the history of civilization, but that will make us a much more civilized Congress with the addition of so many that reflect that diversity.
It is that diversity. It is that problem solving, which is why we surpassed expectation in this cycle.
My counterpart, and my friend, who chairs the NRCC had predicted a gain, a net gain of 16 seats for the Republicans. Speaker Boehner predicted a gain of seats for the Republicans. The Cook Political Report, the day after the election said this was a better than expected night for House Democrats, when all the races conclude, when everything is tallied up, when everything is called, we expect that our Caucus will have 200 Members, a pick-up of 7 or 8t Members.
These Democrats, not us, not me, but these Democrats defeated 16 Republican incumbents. Pete Sessions said that they would pick-up 16 seats, these Democrats defeated 16 Republican incumbents and that’s, by the way, better than the 14 that we defeated back in 2008, which was a watershed election, 49 freshmen Members.
Final point is this: who they are, and what they look like, and who they beat is less important than what they stand for. That’s what’s most important. How we win is less important than why we win.
This is what they stand for: they and we are ready for solutions and not sequestration.
We are ready to seek common ground, hopefully on a higher ground as the Leader says. And we’re willing to compromise and we’re willing to find consensus with Republicans.
We will work with Republicans to open up more small businesses instead of shutting down more Planned Parenthoods, which is what they tried to do.
We will work with Republicans to balance budgets so long as those budgets are balanced fairly and the middle class is not asked to be first and the only to sacrifice.
We will find compromise, we’re willing to find compromise with Republicans so long as that compromise is fair, balanced, just, and moves this country forward.
We’re ready for fiscal responsibility and not a fiscal cliff.
This election is now over ladies and gentleman and we, we as House Democrats, newly-elected Democrats, and those who are returning, we are ready to govern. And the basis of governing effectively is solving problems, and standing up for the right priorities. And every one of my colleagues and Leader Pelosi’s colleagues, who were elected in this cycle, set that as a goal. And they are ready to deliver.