Jeffries Touts New Role as House Dem Caucus Chair with Media

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries at a "Congress on Your Corner" event
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries with a man who’s expressing his concern about a malfunctioned elevator at a subway station. (Photo by Tsubasa Berg)

Since his November 28 victory to become the next House Democratic Caucus Chair and fifth highest-ranking Democrat in the next House of Representatives, which convenes in early January, U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D- Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie, Mill Basin, Coney Island, parts of Queens) has gone on a victory tour with the media.

On December 4, he appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe whereCouncil on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass asked him about his views on the Trump administration’s plans over a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

“I think we should approach it with an open mind, but put it in the context of what’s been happening in terms of our economy,” he said.

“For the last 45-plus years, we’ve seen that the productivity of the American worker has increased, I think in excess of 285 percent. During the same period of time, wages have increased by less than ten percent, and so we have a situation where the great middle class and those who aspire to be part of it are in jeopardy. A lot that has to do with globalization, some of it is poorly-negotiated trade deals. A lot of it is the rise in automation. Some of it is the decline in unionization.”

When Peggy Noonan asked Jeffries what policies the incoming Democratic House majority intends to propose, he made it clear they plan to support policies that will help the middle class and vulnerable Americans of all backgrounds.

“We’re going to fight for lower health care costs, focusing on the high costs of prescription drugs. We’re going to fight for a real infrastructure plan, not the fake one that Donald Trump has put forth, and we’re going to try and do it in a bipartisan way,” he said. “and we’re going to work on cleaning up corruption in Washington, D.C., bringing our democracy to life, ending the era of voter suppression, trying to get unregulated money out of politics.”

When host Joe Scarborough asked Jeffries why Congressional Republicans were so against permitting former FBI Director James Comey from testifying in the Russia investigation, he called it “unfortunate” that Congressional Republicans have interfered with efforts to hold Trump accountable, blasting them as a “cover-up caucus.”

On December 5, NY1’s Errol Louis asked him where he stood on possible impeachment proceedings for Trump. “We have to deal with it responsibly,” he said. “We are a separate and co-equal branch of government. We do have a constitutional obligation to serve as a check and balance on an out-of control executive branch. We will do so, but we also shouldn’t go down the road of over-investigating, overplaying our hand, and falling right into a trap that will be set for us by Donald Trump and the Republicans.”

Jeffries also made it clear that he was confident in the caucus’ efforts to hold Trump accountable, citing successful efforts to make former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuse himself from the investigation and have Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoint special counsel Robert Mueller after Comey was fired.

He also told Louis that despite his newfound influence in Congress, he does not intend to abandon his constituents.

When Kings County Politics contacted Jeffries’ office for comment on how he would advocate on behalf of all Americans as much of the national leadership becomes increasingly concentrated in New York, he was traveling and thus unable to comment by post time.