Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-San Bernardino, was elected Thursday, Nov. 19, as vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus.
Aguilar now becomes the highest-ranking Latino in Congress.
“This means I’ve got a seat at the leadership table representing our region,” Aguilar said in an interview. “It’s not lost on me how important that is as we advocate for priorities that are specific to our region and San Bernardino County.”
Aguilar said the first priority is getting a relief package for COVID-19 signed by the president.
“Inland Empire families are struggling, local governments are hurting,” he said. “They’re going to have to take some difficult steps and Congress needs to help.”
Lowering prescription drug costs and homelessness are other top priorities, he said.
Aguilar noted that much of Southern California is diverse, including the 31st Congressional District, which he’s represented since 2014, after serving on the City Council and as mayor of Redlands.
“Communities of color want a better life for our kids — clean air, clean water, better schools,” he said. “The Latino dream is the American Dream.”
Aguilar was elected in a 148-to-82 vote by House Democrats.
He said his job as vice chair will be finding a way to bring together members of Congress from districts across the country, each who have constituents with different needs.
“It’s on each and every one of us as members of the caucus to understand the diverse districts that we come from — diversity not just geographically or ethnically, but the diverse viewpoints we have,” he said. “How we bring that caucus together, that’s really the core function of this job and that’s what I’m excited about.”