NY Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says he’s ready to lead House Democrats

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is marching toward becoming minority leader in the House of Representatives, and he’s focused on pushing forward his party’s recent legislative accomplishments.

Jeffries appeared on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” on Tuesday to discuss his bid to succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the top House Democrat in the 118th Congress. He argued that his party and President Joe Biden helped secure growth in jobs and infrastructure through recent legislation, but they still have more to do.

“Most of the opportunities that flow from these bills haven’t been brought to life,” he said. “So, there’s a real opportunity for us to work with the Biden administration to make sure that the promises that flow from those bills are actually implemented.”

Jeffries, 52, pointed to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which clears the way for $1.2 trillion in infrastructure spending over the next five years, as a way to create jobs for “millions” of Americans.

In the same breath, the current House Democratic Caucus chair also said he would push “back aggressively against any overreach from the extreme MAGA Republicans” in the next Congress. In the aftermath of the midterm elections, House Republicans have said they plan to investigate the president’s son Hunter Biden and his business dealings in other countries, alleging misconduct.

If elected House minority leader in closed-door elections on Nov. 30, Jeffries will become the first African American and the first New Yorker since Rep. Bertrand Hollis Snell – a Republican – in 1939 to hold that post. Jeffries is so far running unopposed for the role.

Jeffries has served in the House of Representatives since 2013, representing eastern Brooklyn and southwestern Queens. Before that, he spent five years in the New York State Assembly. His district included Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights.

He will also stand beside another Brooklynite in Congress, with Sen. Chuck Schumer holding on to his role as Senate majority leader.

When asked about what New York City’s grip on leadership could mean for the rest of the country, Jeffries underscored the diversity of his borough and his constituency.

“We’ve all have challenges that in some cases are unique, but in some cases are very common – particularly when you’re talking about the big issues around health care and housing, in dealing with inflation, and making sure that every single American has access to a good-paying job,” he said.

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