Skip to content
Sign up to receive our free weekday morning edition, and you'll never miss a scoop.

Aguilar on Schiff, border talks and the Super Bowl

LEESBURG, Va. — Our very own Heather Caygle sat down with House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar Wednesday at Punchbowl News’ “Cocktails and Conversation” during the House Democratic retreat in Leesburg, Va. Aguilar dished on his endorsement in the California Senate race, and how he’s viewing the Super Bowl matchup. The Network partnered with Punchbowl News to make the conversation possible.

Before the interview, Carrie Glenn, senior vice president of external relations at The Network, gave brief remarks.

Here are our top takeaways:

Aguilar made news by endorsing Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) Senate campaign. Schiff is running against two fellow House Democrats — Reps. Barbara Lee and Katie Porter — in the top-two March 5 primary. Schiff is leading the field in public polls.

President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings don’t bother Aguilar, who said he was confident “that voters are going to choose Joe Biden to lead us for the next few years.” Aguilar said the country’s improving economic landscape will be key to Democratic success up and down the ballot in November.

Aguilar said the failed impeachment vote of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “underscores the chaos, dysfunction and extremism that we see with House Republicans.” Aguilar added “there’s no way [former Speaker Nancy Pelosi] would have lost a vote like that,” labeling the GOP vote-counting mishaps “an exercise in self-harm.”

After Senate Republicans walked away from the bipartisan border security bill this week, Aguilar said “it just doesn’t seem that Republicans want to meet us halfway or that they’re interested in solutions at all” on immigration reform.

The California Democrat picked his home state team, the San Francisco 49ers, to triumph in the Super Bowl. But he cautioned that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is a hard man to beat in big-game situations.

If Aguilar could be invisible for an entire day in the Capitol, he said he would “spend a little bit of time with the professional parliamentarian team.” Uh, OK.

In a scenario where Aguilar was alone at Tune Inn with Speaker Mike Johnson, the Democrat said they would bond over their previous roles as conference vice chairs. Exciting stuff.

In addition to Aguilar, raising a glass with us at the Punchbowl News event were House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DCCC Chair Suzan DelBene and Democratic Reps. Steny Hoyer (Md.), Steven Horsford (Nev.), Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Joyce Beatty (Ohio), Annie Kuster (N.H.), Ami Bera (Calif.), Jahana Hayes (Conn.), Scott Peters (Calif.), Jim Himes (Conn.), Jamie Raskin (Md.), Marc Veasey (Texas), Brad Schneider (Ill.), Veronica Escobar (Texas) and Maxwell Frost (Fla.).

Also joining us: Reps. Jared Huffman (Calif.), Joe Neguse (Colo.), Nanette Barragán (Calif.), Shontel Brown (Ohio), Jim McGovern (Mass.), Greg Landsman (Ohio), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Wiley Nickel (N.C.), Betty McCollum (Minn.), Joe Morelle (N.Y.), Darren Soto (Fla.), Val Hoyle (Ore.), Jasmine Crockett (Texas) and Becca Balint (Vt.).

And Reps. Lois Frankel (Fla.), Nikki Budzinski (Ill.), Madeleine Dean (Pa.), Sean Casten (Ill.), Mike Levin (Calif.), Rick Larsen (Wash.), Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Lori Trahan (Mass.), Julia Brownley (Calif.), Paul Tonko (N.Y.), Mark Takano (Calif.), Glenn Ivey (Md.), Robert Garcia (Calif.), Hillary Scholten (Mich.), Gabe Vasquez (N.M.), Jennifer McClellan (Va.), Brad Sherman (Calif.), Morgan McGarvey (Ky.), Dan Goldman (N.Y.) and Greg Stanton (Ariz.).

— Max Cohen

Presented by AFP’s Personal Option

Why can’t healthcare be like a good ice cream shop? Countless flavors. Endless toppings. A Personal Option offers Americans unlimited healthcare options. The cherry on top? Lower healthcare costs for everyone. Get the scoop at

Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.