Congressman Hakeem Jeffries issued a sharp and colorful rebuke against President Trump’s divisive rhetoric and politics at his annual State of the District Address on Thursday at Fort Greene’s Brooklyn Technical High School.
“We are a gorgeous mosaic of people who came from all over the world,” said Jeffries. “And no matter what comes out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, nobody can take that away from us.”
“In Washington, we have to deal with ‘Individual Number One’, a master of deception, a reality show host masquerading as president of United States of America.”
During his 30-minute address, Jeffries, who represents the 8th Congressional District, including Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie, Mill Basin, Coney Island and parts of Queens, outlined his agenda for the coming year and vowed to protect the rights of all Americans “in these troubling times.”
“As a result of the 2016 election, our democracy is under attack, not from without, but from within,” Jeffries said. “In Washington, we have to deal with ‘Individual Number One,’ a master of deception, a reality show host masquerading as president of the United States of America.”
“But I am thankful that on November 6, the American people rose up,” Jeffries added, noting that during the recent midterm elections, the Democrats picked up 46 seats and regained the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The constitution says, that the House is a separate but coequal branch of government,” he continued. “We don’t work for Donald Trump, we work for the American people. And now, there is a new sheriff in town.”
And this new sheriff, Jeffries added, will continue to push back against the president’s border wall between the U.S and Mexico.
“We’re not willing to waste billions of dollars in taxpayer money on a medieval border wall that’s a 5th-century solution to a 21st-century problem,” the congressman said. “It’s unreasonable to expect that the newly ascendant House Democrat majority is going to fund his unnecessary vanity project. It’s not happening. Not now. Not ever.”
“It’s unreasonable to expect that the newly ascendant House Democrat majority is going to fund his unnecessary vanity project. It’s not happening. Not now. Not ever.”
Instead, Democrats plan to invest in infrastructure projects to fix the country’s bridges, roads, tunnels, airports and mass transportation systems. Jeffries also emphasized the need to increase the minimum wage, defend Dreamers, fix the Voting Rights Act to end voter suppression and to invest in affordable housing.
“I believe that we should invest $70 billion in fixing our crumbling public housing so that people can live with the safety, dignity and decency they deserve. I also believe that we should invest in the creation of real affordable housing, housing that you could actually afford to live in,” said Jeffries, expressing his support for the NY State Democrats’ plan to tackle rent reform laws this year.
“We must repeal vacancy decontrol, reform our preferential rent laws and limit the abilities of landlords like the Trump real estate organization from artificially increasing rents by claiming so-called major capital improvements,” said Jeffries. “We must enact the best and strongest tenant protection laws in the history of New York State, and we must do it this year.”
Citing one of his legislative achievements in 2018, the passing of the bipartisan First Step Act, the most substantial prison reform to date, Jeffries concluded with emphasizing the power of bipartisanship — and the force of a Democratic majority in the U.S House of Representatives.
“We were able to put together a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, progressives and conservatives, the ACLU and the Koch Brothers to pass historic criminal justice reform and convince this president to sign it into law. Who knows what the House Democratic majority can do on behalf of the American people. We’re just getting started,” Jeffries finished his speech to standing ovations from the audience.
For a glimpse of an all-around eventful evening, which also included a rally in front of Brooklyn Tech, followed by a full program of speeches, a surprise appearance by Senator Chuck Schumer, performances and a reception, take a look at our photos. (Photo credit: A. Leonhardt for BK Reader)